Opinion: Damage to the Victim and an Entire Town, or How One Blogger Should Be Ashamed of Herself for Bringing Anonymous into a Rape Case

By Elizabeth Hall

We all should take a step back, particularly those of us who blog, and remember the scene from Aaron Sorkin’s (2010) screenplay The Social Network where the character Erica Albright gets upset with Mark Zuckerberg for calling her a name on the internet, and exclaims that “the internet is not written in pencil, Mark, it is written in ink”.  That being said, this article is to discuss the reality of what can happen when bloggers do not respect the normal criminal justice processes and attempt to convert the situation into something for themselves.  The case being referenced is the Steubenville Ohio Rape Case which has been reported on by bloggers, radio show hosts, and even the mainstream media and the results of the spectacle caused in the media, and particularly one blogger who is claiming credit and accolades of being a hero when in reality the resulting arrests, convictions, and actions by the justice system would have been the same without her involvement.  At this point, now that the justice system has ruled, we can shed some light on what really happened and why #Knightsec, and Anonymous came to be involved with this, the ramifications that came for the town because of their involvement, and the extra problems in the town, because one blogger was chasing her fifteen minutes of fame.

We here at Criminology & Justice have been following this saga through our involvement with Behind the Yellow Tape Radio Show which airs on Friday nights at 7PM PST 10PM EST and through that platform have heard what problems the KYAnonymous involvement has caused (Ortega, 2013). The same blogger, Alexandra Goddard, was the person who brought this issue to their attention, as she was working on the show at the time. We did notice that Mrs. Goddard seemed to bring controversy with her, as the topics soon went to Juggaloes, the Insane Clown Posse band, prostitution, and she was reporting to us that she was receiving death threats at that time from those involved in that controversy. C & J even left the show for a while as we felt that her influence was taking the show in bad directions.  Alex however seemed to thrive on the controversy. We noticed right away how the addition of Mrs. Goddard seemed to change the show.  We at C & J had to ask ourselves why, as we blog on controversial issues, have even taken our own shots at Anonymous, and we do not receive death threats. We also do not make up identities to further our causes. The difference is that those of us that respect the ethics of what we do; do not insert ourselves into the controversy for the sake of attention alone.

Now on to the Steubenville controversy, all was going well, as the host +Joey Ortega is known for asking questions and getting to the bottom of the issues, as he interviewed plenty of people including Sheriff Fred Abdallah from one of the jurisdictions involved over the multiple shows held on this topic (Ortega,2012).  What we learned from the sheriff, and what any criminal justice, law, and even forensic psychology major knows from their training is that the wheels of justice move in their own time, law enforcement does not regularly reveal all that they know in an investigation to the public, and that exposing evidence to the general public in the manner that Anonymous did only serves to disqualify that evidence in the courtroom.  It has come to our attention collectively (C & J and Behind the Yellow Tape) through an investigation by another individual, C & J’s own investigation, and the investigation done by Mr. Ortega, that that Mrs. Goddard not only orchestrated the involvement of Anonymous, but also used several different platforms and identities to make it look like there were more people than just her and her friend trying to get their attention.

In reality she is from the area, and had an opportunity to exploit the situation to her advantage.  In the world of cybercrime this falls into the category of trolling which is a far cry from the innocence she is claiming.  According to the Oxford Dictionary (2013) the definition of trolling is deliberately posting something online with the intention of inciting an angry response or a person who does this.  She not only trolled Anonymous, but Cody Saltzman as well.  Some of the evidence is displayed on a website done by the individual not with C & J or BTYT, which clearly shows that the IP address used for all of these personas ties back to Mrs. Goddard and her friends Michelle McKee and Holly Briley and can be viewed here; http://didprinniedoit.wordpress.com/prinnie/   

There are several reasons why C & J feels that we must expose this for what it is, mostly because this kind of behavior needs to be recognized, but also because we are sure that Mrs. Goddard and her friends Michelle McKee, and Holly Briley are not the only bloggers that attempt to do this and the public needs to be made aware so they can stop supporting this type of behavior.  Just because someone posts something online does not make it true, and there are many trolls out there.  So, back to the case, by trolling members of Anonymous, Mrs. Goddard posed as a persona named Fraulein Ava @ BrigitZahlten taunted them and followed them along with Holly Briley and Michelle McKee until they found a small subset of Anonymous called #Knightsec who apparently took her up on her cause.  The real kicker is that this group and the rest of Anonymous seemed to turn against each other over this.

What did this involvement cause to happen in Steubenville?  As explained by Sheriff Abdallah, parents were afraid to send their kids to school, and even worse the members of the Anonymous subgroup #Knightsec were going around the town, knocking on people’s doors and harassing them by staring the residents down from behind the masks menacingly.  Neighbors were feuding, and all of this was caused by Mrs. Goddard’s trolling of Anonymous. 
What about the victim? Not only was she receiving threats from others in the town as supposedly the groups were there on her behalf, but her embarrassment has been played on every major news channel before the trial.  To make this worse, now it has been played out all over the internet, which is, you guessed it, written in ink will be on display forever.  On her many blogs including Radio News, prinniefied, her new Facebook account under Alexandria Goddard, and whoever else’s blogs that she has believing her she is portraying herself as a hero.  This victim will never have peace now as her story is forever displayed. We are sure she will have a harder time recovering from one of the worst crimes to suffer from, due to the way the information is displayed, and of course the adverse affects on the area she lives in will not be forgotten or easy to get over as well. 

The lesson to be learned here is that before you jump on an internet bandwagon maybe you should look further than the story you are viewing to see if there is a troll behind it, or if someone might have skewed the story to insert themselves into it.  Anyone can print anything on the internet, but that does not make it true, just like it was found that Mr. Saltzman was not involved.  What about him?  This will follow him around as well.  Remember as you read stories on social media involving the justice system and crimes that it is the job of law enforcement to investigate, and the job of the attorneys, judges and juries to try the case in court where it belongs, not on the internet. The law is the law, and there is no room for opinion in a courtroom, so all of the public opinion in the world will not change the verdicts handed down or the timetable of events except to cause problems for those who are trying to do their jobs. 
Continued Evidence Snips 


Sorkin, A., (2010).  The Social Network- Movie site.  Retrieved From: http://www.thesocialnetwork-movie.com/awards/#/home
Ortega, J.  (2013) Behind the Yellow Tape: Episodes on Demand.  Retrieved From: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/behindtheyellowtape
Ortega, J., (2012).  Behind the Yellow Tape: Steubenville Case and Anonymous with Guest Sheriff Fred Abdallah.  Retrieved From: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/behindtheyellowtape/2013/01/05/steubenville-case-and-anonymous-wguest-sheriff-fred-abdalla
Oxford Dictionary, (2013).  Definition of a Troll.  Retrieved From: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/troll--2

The actual site put up by law enforcement to execute damage control from the lies spread by Anonymous, Prinnie and friends

Alex Goddard online profiles and links where she is either listed or registered and includes the use of:
Alexandria Goddard, Alex Goddard, Prinniefied (with cross search of KnightSec) and general online history traces.

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