- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2016

A grand jury indicted a Kentucky man on felony hacking charges Thursday in connection with the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case that yielded convictions for two former high school football players in 2013.

Deric Lostutter, 29, has been charged with multiple counts of computer hacking in the Eastern District of Kentucky, according to an indictment handed down Thursday in Lexington, Kentucky. If convicted, he faces up to federal imprisonment and $350,000 in fines.

Prosecutors allege Mr. Lostutter, using the alias “KYAnonymous,” participated in a hacking campaign beginning in December 2012 with the intention of intimidating and harassing an individual who ran a website dedicated to the Steubenville High School football team.

Two of its teenage athletes had been accused of raping an underage girl three months earlier, but the incident went largely unnoticed until hacktivists later that year began drawing attention to the small Ohio town and helped earn the case international attention.

As alleged in the indictment, Mr. Lostutter and a co-conspirator gained unauthorized access to the football team fan page and its owner’s email address and leaked its contents, then attempted to cover evidence of their intrusions.

After beaching the football fan site, prosecutors say hacktivists reset its administrative passwords and used the page to publicly disclose the stolen email data.

“The object of the conspiracy was that Defendant Deric Lostutter and others gain unauthorized access to the website and e-mail account of Victim 1, harass and intimidate Victim 1 and others and gain publicity for their online identities,” wrote U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey.

Mr. Lostutter revealed in June 2013 that the FBI had executed a search warrant at his then-residence in Winchester, Kentucky, in connection with the Steubenville case, and he had identified himself as “KYAnonymous” routinely in the years since, suggesting all the while that that a federal indictment was likely on its way.

Specifically, Mr. Lostutter is charged with one count of conspiring to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer, two counts of hacking and one count of lying to investigators. Prosecutors said Mr. Lostutter wrote a manifesto in which he admitted his alleged role in 2012, but he denied involvement later when questioned by investigators.

“We live in a world where black people get shot for selling CDs, activists get imprisoned and the people mishandling confidential communication become president,” Mr. Lostutter told The Washington Times on Thursday.

“An activist can face more prison time than someone who rapes a person. Dylann Roof can get a cheeseburger,” he said. “I have a family, and all any activist does is try to protect their family and others from the atrocities this world faces.”

Former Steubenville athletes Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, both 16 at the time of the rape, were sentenced in 2013 to one and two years behind bars, respectively. Both have since been released.

An individual using the alias “JustBatCat” is accused of assisting with the hacking campaign, which was widely propagated online at the time by hacktivists aligned with the Anonymous movement. The indictment only indicates that “JustBatCat” resided in Virginia at the time of the intrusions, and it does not indicate if the person has assisted investigators in any way. 

Representatives for Eastern District Court could not immediately be reached for comment.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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