Support Deric Lostutter

The Steubenville rape case helped spark a national conversation about victim-blaming and rape culture.

But the victim only got justice because Anonymous leaked significant social media evidence implicating the assailants — and for distributing those tweets, photos, and video, 26-year-old Deric Lostutter faces more prison time than the rapists got themselves.

Sign the petition here.

5 thoughts on “Support Deric Lostutter

  1. The two rapists in the case, 16 at the time of the offense, were tried as juveniles. That’s not an option for Lostutter. Almost any time you have an adult tried for a felony the maximum possible sentence for the adult is going to be longer than the maximum possible sentence (much less the actual sentence) for a juvenile, a juvenile accused of a more serious offence. That kind of got glossed over by the petition authors, who – what with the boldface type and the questionable insinuations about the Federal Bureau of Investigation being involved in some sinister cabal with some small-town high school officials – appeared to want to invest the discrepancy with some special but never quite explicit significance here.

    The really bothersome question about the petition, though, is this: By what mechanism do the petition’s authors hope (as the petition implies they do) that a widespread expression of opposition to Lostutter’s conviction will or should have a bearing on the outcome of the trial (apart from the separate fundraising aspect, which is also addressed)? Is there any mechanism by which a petition can affect an ongoing criminal judicial proceeding that is not, in principle, prejudicial to the rule of law and the administration of justice?

    In a curious irony, Lostutter’s defense attorney (to whom you can indirectly donate money, in a manner of speaking, via a link in the petition) successfully got a New Mexico jury to deadlock last year in a rape trial in during which the attorney argued that the victim was a money-grubbing “party girl” who had shagged his client consensually in the past and who was seeking to fleece his client in a separate civil suit about the alleged rape. The defendant walked as a result of the mistrial. (I have no idea, obviously, whether the defendant in that case was really guilty of rape or not.)

    So Lostutter has to feel pretty good about having hired a lawyer who will go the extra mile for his client in the interest of justice.

  2. Just as a follow-up, I now see that Slate already ran a piece essentially making the same point as my first one above:

    “Stop Comparing the Steubenville Hacker to the Steubenville Rapists. It’s Misleading and Wrong.”

    While we’re on the subject of the Derek Lostutter petition being “misleading and wrong”, I’ll add that the Slate piece tacitly raises another point I omitted, which is that (assuming Lostutter is charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – it appears that he has not been charged with anything yet and this is, at most, still at the grand jury stage), Lostutter’s case won’t really be about the distribution of the information, but the hacking of the school’s website. Can you imagine what a dangerous precedent would be set if no legal penalties attached to my hacking your department’s website (and hey, who knows what confidential information I might poke around in while I’m there) as long as I was looking for evidence of the commission of a crime by someone in your department – I, a private third party with no relation to the case – and simply happened, by good fortune, to have been correct in my private suspicions?

  3. Hmm. I agree with Nemo’s comments. Even though I do think what he did was admirable despite the fact that he broke the law to bring these people to justice as it were. He should also be prepared to face the penalty for the crime he committed while trying to help.

  4. A few points –

    1) On Lustutter’s attorney: Is it your position that by –probably unknowingly– choosing an attorney who had previously successfully won an acquittal for a defendant others believe raped another person, Lustutter is somehow less good for having done so? Is it more or less relevant to his guilt than whether the victim in the new mexico case you mention had previously had consensual sex with the defendant?

    2) Legal mechanisms, the worth of petitions: What Lustutter is actually seeking is funds to mount a legal defense. This linked petition seems largely useless, but there are others

    3) On Hacking – there’s a comment above that says he’s being charged with hacking the schools website, but my understanding was that he got the incriminating information of off publicly available information in the rapists’ instagram and twitter feeds – can you link to the report that he hacked a school website? And by “hacked” I mean actually had access to information that required a password, etc – not “figured out the url for a publicly available page”

    4) I’d like to point out that the Slate article is really clear that the 1-year sentence imposed on the 17-year-old rapist is because of “a good policy” and suggest that people weigh that assertion in their evaluation of the Slate piece.

    5) On the comment “He should also be prepared to face the penalty for the crime he committed while trying to help.” You’ve got to be kidding me – should someone who stops a rape in progress by say kicking the rapist or hitting them be prepared to face assault charges?

  5. Peter,

    Some of your comments seem to have been directed to me and some to Anaala, but:

    1. No.

    2. Agreed re the linked petition.

    3. There was no comment that said Lostutter was being charged with hacking the school’s website; in fact, I said that Lostutter did not appear to have been charged with anything yet. But the search warrant (publicized by Lostutter himself: makes clear that it was executed as part of an investigation into an alleged illegal “hacking event” (as FBI warrant put it) involving the school’s website and its administrator’s email account. If it turns out that there’s no evidence of this having happened or of Lostutter’s involvement, then this is probably all moot anyway.

    4. Sure, but let’s clarify that the “good policy” the Slate author is referring to there is laws that limit the length of penalties that the juvenile justice system can impose on minors.

    5. I don’t speak for Anaala, but does a hypothetical example of someone intervening in an emergency to stop a crime in progress really shed light on the situation here? I don’t think Anaala was implying any such thing. We don’t (in theory) let even trained, dedicated and sworn police officers, whose job it is to bring criminals to justice, get away with violating laws in the course of investigating crimes (if we catch them at it). If the police if they think there’s a pressing need to, say, gain what would otherwise be illegal access to someone’s computer or website, we make them go before a court, take oaths, meet standards, etc., and receive a warrant before doing it. Why on earth would society think it was OK for an amateur, unsupervised, unaccountable, unlicensed and unaffiliated private person to take the law into his/her own hands in a way we wouldn’t tolerate from an actual representative of the law?

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