Anonymous Warns of Steubenville Redux in Maryville Rape Case

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A protester wearing an Anonymous Guy Fawkes mask takes part in a demonstration against controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as part of an international day of action against the increasingly-contested accord, in Zagreb on February 11, 2012. Tens of thousands of people marched in protests in more than a dozen European cities against a controversial anti-online piracy pact that critics say could curtail Internet freedom. ACTA was signed last year in Tokyo, and aims to bolster international standards for intellectual property protection, for example by doing more to fight counterfeit medicine and other goods. But its attempt to attack illegal downloading and Internet file-sharing has sparked angry protests from users, who fear it could curtail online freedom.  AFP PHOTO / HRVOJE POLAN (Photo credit should read HRVOJE POLAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Internet vigilantes of Anonymous have picked their next battle. The story of 14-year-old Daisy Coleman and her 13-year-old friend, allegedly raped and videotaped at a party full of older football players in Maryville, Missouri, began receiving national attention yesterday, with devastating echoes of Steubenville. (In Maryville: The charges were dropped, Coleman's mother lost her job, and the family's house burned down — catch up here.) Now the amorphous hacktivist group is pledging #Justice4Daisy in #OpMaryville, and warning the town that someone must be held responsible.

"We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy's case," the group said in a statement. "Why was a suspect, who confessed to a crime, released with no charges? How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players inside a court room?"

In Steubenville, Anonymous, along with a local blogger, were credited with not only collecting relevant information about the rape case from social media — deleted tweets, YouTube videos, etc. — but with shining a relentless, if sometimes inexact, spotlight on the town and relevant players. Although they are billed as hackers, Anonymous's real role in these stories is to make people pay attention. In addition to the #OpMaryville hashtag, the group has started using #jordanandmattarefree, in reference to the suspects Matthew Barnett (the grandson of Missouri State Representative Rex Barnett) and Jordan Zech, who allegedly filmed Barnett's assault of Coleman.

"Most of all, We are wondering, how do the residents of Maryville sleep at night?" the group added in its declaration of war. "If Maryville won't defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them. Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us."