Questions still surround the Steubenville Rape Case even after the guilty verdict that sent two of the perpetrators to prison for years. David Zirin argues that without the involvement of hackers the case was set to be dropped.

I really think that the heroes in this story are the hackers who got the photos out there because I think that actually led to a kind of shaming process that pushed this trial forward

It is hard to conclusively prove anything in this regard, as is the nature of counter-factuals, but there is some evidence to suggest that the school and law enforcement were not taking the rape seriously, at least initially. One of the journalists covering the rape reported that Steubenville residents were reporting to her that a coverup was taking place.

Soon locals began contacting me stating that they believed there was a cover-up into investigation of the charges. That’s not a new allegation for Steubenville. There is also a belief among residents of Steubenville that high school athletes are given a pass when it comes to accountability for bad behavior.

The notion of giving student athletes or “jocks” a pass on sexual assault or really a number of offenses is nothing new. Athletes are given preferential treatment in a number of ways as Zirin notes.

There is so much hero worship that goes on in high schools and colleges of these young men, and there’s so many adults who effectively pay these men in worship and kiss these guys’ butts…

They’re given women as if women are, in fact, part of a gutter economy that says, ‘You are great, here is what you get,’ and that does breed a culture where these young men don’t understand that ‘no’ means ‘no.’ And it normalizes a culture where young men and women, like in Steubenville, can see what’s happening right in front of their face and yet not see a crime taking place.

But for those on the outside it was easy to see these men for what they have now been convicted of being – sexual predators. Anonymous, independent bloggers, and reporters of all stripes never held or were at least able to bypass any reverence for these local football heroes.

While nothing happened in the rape case for months, Anonymous released a video about a former student talking about the rape. Many public officials including the county prosecutor and a judge had to recuse themselves because of their relationship to the football program. In what was known as #OpRollRedRoll Anonymous also did data dumps about local law enforcement who they believed were attempting a coverup. Anonymous also helped organize #OccupySteubenville protests to highlight the case and bring justice for the victim.

No timeline of the case can be completed without mentioning Anonymous. So back to Zirin’s point – were hackers the ones that brought this case forward and prevented justice from being denied? Are Anonymous the heroes of the Steubenville Rape Case?