UPDATE: Anonymous has announced it will begin a "Twitter storm" for the hashtag #OpMaryville at 3pm ET on Tuesday. The group's goals are to pressure the attorney general to investigate the dropped rape charges and promote a peaceful protest at a Maryville courthouse on October 22.
The hacktivist group Anonymous threatened to take action against the town of Maryville, Mo., after charges against a football player for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl were dropped.
The loosely defined, Internet-based collective is best known for taking digital action against everyone from corporations and governments to school bullies. Anonymous played a key role in bringing national attention to the Steubenville High School rape case in Ohio last year — in which a 16-year-old girl was raped by members of the high school's football team while she was unconscious — by leaking deleted tweets and videos shared through social media which implicated the teenage perpetrators and helped the case to move forward.
On Monday, using the hashtags #Justice4Daisy and #OpMaryville, the group pledged to bring attention to the cases of two Maryville girls who say they were raped during an evening spent at a schoolmate's house in 2012. The family of one of the girls, Daisy Coleman, pressed charges against Matthew Barnett, a 17-year-old football player at Daisy's school. According to a police report, Barnett confessed to the encounter but said it was consensual and denied using any force. Another girl, 13, was raped by a 15-year-old whose case was handled in a juvenile court. A Maryville sheriff said the evidence gathered against the boys was "absolutely" enough to warrant prosecution. However, the charges were later dropped by the prosecutor for "lack of evidence."