To continue amplifying the voices of women and girls, CHIME FOR CHANGE partnered with Tribeca Film Institute and The Guardian to release Anonymous Comes to Town, a short film by Nancy Schwartzman, coinciding with Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. The film is a companion piece to Nancy’s feature length film, Roll Red Roll, a Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund recipient. Anonymous Comes to Town tells the story of Steubenville, Ohio, a sleepy town in America’s rustbelt, best known for high school football and being the birthplace of Dean Martin, until a teen sexual assault committed by two members of the football team surfaced. When the internet group “Anonymous” caught wind of the story, they decided to intervene. After publishing videos from the night of the assault to their millions of followers, they sparked demands for #JusticeforJaneDoeand unleashed a passionate mob. Their actions divided the small town, but in the process, gave strength to generations of women who were forced to hide a legacy of abuse that until then was ignored.
Some viewers may find the following film distressing
STEUBENVILLE, OH DECEMBER 2012
Anonymous: Greetings citizens of the world. We are Anonymous. Around mid-August 2012, a party took place in a small town in Ohio known as Steubenville. On this fateful night, a life was changed forever as a group of the football players of Big Red high school began taking advantage of an underage girl. The girl was sexually assaulted, raped and dragged unconscious from party to party. The town of Steubenville has been good at keeping this quiet and their star football team protected. You can hide no longer. You’ll now have the world looking directly at you. Op Roll Red Roll engaged.
Brendon: I knew a rape case happened over the summer. It just seemed like at that point, when I was hearing all that stuff, it’s kind of get swept under the rug. Like, nobody would talk about it for a while. And then all of a sudden, some guy comes on and he’s not even from the area and he’s like ‘I’m coming for you’. She’s passed out, it’s not OK. It’s wrong! As soon as Anonymous posted the video, I was like, I want to help.
ANONYMOUS COMES TO TOWN
News Reporter: RollRedRoll.com is a Steubenville high school football website hacked into last night, regarding an alleged rape case in Jefferson County. In the video, the Anonymous hacking group threatens to reveal personal information about people involved in the incident. Sandra: As far as I know, this was the first time anything like this had happened in town. It was a situation of where you didn’t quite know what was going to happen, not knowing exactly what Anonymous stood for.
Anonymous: All you need is a Google search engine to realize we are serious in what we do. Anonymous is nothing more than an idea that can be appropriated for a common cause.
Bill McCafferty (Chief of Police): I don’t think anybody knew really who Anonymous is. I could probably put on a mask and claim I’m Anonymous. There’s never been a case like this in Steubenville.
Geri: It is hard to actually even get anybody in this area to discuss rape and if they do, it’s kind of a little bit and then it’s like OK, I’ve had enough, put the subject away, let’s go on to something else.
Jerry: Young people today and even when I was young, when you have a group of kids and guys and girls and you put alcohol in the mix, things can get out of hand. People saw these pictures and it’s horrendous, they were ugly pictures, and I understand we need to correct that but we’re not bad people. I grew up within a 90-minute radius of Steubenville.
Unknown / Person with Anonymous: I grew up in the tri-state area of Steubenville. It wasn’t until Anonymous was called to a local place that I’d go then. We just put the information out there and then it’s free for anybody to do whatever they see fit with that information.
@MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Brendon: I was kind of the midpoint between Anonymous and Steubenville. It’s kind of like, the Spider-Man would put his mask on or something where, you know, Superman changes into his costume, it’s like, you’re kind of … you’re a superhero. And Twitter this, Twitter that, DMs, group conversations, private messages … It was kind of a social media civil war. People went through their Twitter pages, brought up old photos, old statuses, old tweets … Getting people from outside sources to hear the story. We can just blow it up, ‘Hey, this girl got raped, what can we do to make this story huge?’ So, they set up a rally for a given date.
Unknown / Person with Anonymous: The first rally was not a lot of organization. People really just stood in solidarity and that’s pretty much for a few hours what happened.
Unknown / Person with Anonymous: I just remember seeing like snowball fights. I’m looking at, like, it’s starting but it needs to move up, it needs basically production. At that point, they didn’t release the 12-minute Nodianos video at the end and I knew that was coming. That’s going to bring thousands of people and if it looks like this when they get there, it’s going to make a news for a day and that’s going to be that.
January 2nd, Anonymous
Releases “the Nodi video”,
taken the night of the rape.
Unknown / Person with Anonymous: Once that Nodi video came out, all hell broke loose at that point.
Unknown / Person with Anonymous: Yeah, it did.
News Reporter: National controversy is now growing out of a small-town criminal case in Ohio. People laughed and watched, took pictures, posted pictures …
News Reporter: The story has now gained national attention and has divided that community.
Scott: It was sort of surreal watching CNN pull into my backyard. At first I was very angry. It was a really negative thing to live through and honestly, since I’ve invested my retirement here and then built up this in. This huge negative publicity was not good.
Patricia: OK, I don’t like the Anonymous, the way they came into our town and they created havoc. You take it off, bro. Take it off, you take it off.
Unknown: And then Steubenville had a rally of their own. They say our city is divided. We must stand together and united.
Unknown / Woman Speaker: They say we should be ashamed to wear red and black. I say, wear it proudly.
Unknown / Man Speaker: You want us to be ashamed of our tradition, you want us to be ashamed of our success, you want us to be ashamed of our children, you want our children to be ashamed of the school that they go to. This case is in the legal system. Let them handle it!
Bill McCafferty (Chief of Police): A lot of the comments, a lot of the nasty phone calls I got, you know, I’m the chief of rape city, how do I let this go on, how can I let people get away with it … As far as I was concerned, we didn’t let anybody get away with anything. We had this case solved in the first two weeks.
Jerry: I think we’re being held hostage by, you know, maybe 50, 100 people. They hold this whole town hostage. They’re dictating our image, they don’t even know … The outside perception is that the people are nothing but supporters of rape … These church-going people, we all got labelled like we’re monsters here.
Scott: Everybody who lives here would like to see this story stop being in the media so we can get past it and heal and move on.
Geri: I’ve lived here about 40 years. I was sexually assaulted. When I called the sheriff’s office I said, ‘I want to see if I can prosecute’. The response that I got from the deputy that I spoke to was, ‘Oh, I know him, and the prosecutor has decided that he is not going to take the case.’ After that happened, I slept with a baseball bat, making sure the doors were locked all the time. I would go places where he normally wouldn’t be and there he would be. I was paranoid and I couldn’t depend on anybody else to look after me. So, I had to do it myself. If the Anonymous group hadn’t come in and brought national attention to this, I think it would have disappeared like so many others have.
Michele: This stuff goes on all the time, but it’s never been brought to focus in our community. What happened with Jane Doe was something different. I don’t get involved in … I can’t say the word … activist whatever. I didn’t get to the first rally. And then my sister-in-law informed me of all the tweets and all the pictures, and the video and I was like, you got to be kidding me. So, I went to the second rally.
@Master of Ceremonies: Welcome to Steubenville, if you got something to say come up.
Michele: I had no intention of going up in there and speaking but as soon as I got there and I saw these people talking, I just headed right up those steps. I wasn’t even thinking like, you know, Michelle what are you doing, what are you doing? I just took off on right up those steps and the girl got done speaking and I said, ‘I want to talk.’ I’m 51 years old. I was sexually molested when I was eight years old. Never told anybody and finally in my 40s I decided to get help.
Unknown: Once the testimony stuff started coming out, it just kind of felt like a lightning bolt hit me because now it’s almost turned into like a woman’s movement in a way. They just changed it.
Sandra: The day of the rally, my husband was like, ‘You’re absolutely not going, it’s too dangerous.’ That morning I had decided that if my husband wasn’t going to take me over then I would just walk. I just felt like, I needed to be there.
Alicia: My name is Alicia, I’m a citizen of Steubenville, I was raped in 2000, reported it to the police they called me saying that, that they couldn’t do anything for me.
Unknown: Some of the survivors that did speak out, had not gotten justice and in any way this was their first time speaking about what had happened.
Unknown / Several People: My name is Megan. My name’s Isobel. My name is Robyn, I was raped when I was seven. I’ve also been raped, I never told anybody.
Michele: It just made me feel like a brand-new person. It’s like I was set free for some reason, it just … it felt good.
Brendon: The town kind of came together and everyone was handing out masks and like if you want to help, this is what you can do. I’ve went to every rally, I’ve seen these women speak and that was a game changer.
Unknown / Voice-over: Well, as far as public shaming, it’s harsh, it is harsh but whatever I can do, I’m going to do and I hope that if someone’s thinking about doing something, something wrong, that they’re going to think a little bit. What if somebody found out?
Michele: Something bad like that would happen then yeah, I would like to see people pull together and rally and support one another. The steelworkers do it, when they’re going to lose their jobs they go to Washington, the coal miners just bust themselves to Washington. Sometimes you have to let stuff die but then, on the other hand, you don’t want people to forget what happened.
Unknown / Voice-over: The talk needs to be about where do we go from here and not only where do we go but where does the whole country go? This isn’t an isolated case. Survivors are poised and ready to be heard.
Two Steubenville High School football
players were found guilty of sexual
assault and served up to two years in
a juvenile detention centre.
Three Steubenville school officials
resigned and were not prosecuted.
Two were convicted for related
offences and served brief sentences.
The filmmakers reached out to “Nodi”
but he declined to comment.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS FOR THE GUARDIAN
CHARLIE PHILLIPS & JACQUI EDENBROW
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY MATTHEW BOCKELMAN
EDITED BY ISABEL PONTE
GRAPHIC ARTIST ROB FULLER
MUSIC BY NIMA FAKHRARA
ADDITIONAL CAMERA DAVID HOLM, STEVEN LAKE, ISAAC MATHES
TRANSCRIPTION LUCIE BOASE
COLORIST JASON R. MOFFAT
AUDIO POST PRODUCTION BY MOLINARE HOXTON
DUBBING MIXER KIM TAE HAK
AUDIO POST PRODUCER ALICE BOREHAM
LEGAL SERVICES PELOSI WOLF EFFRON & SPATES LLP, PRYOR CASHMAN LLP
INSURANCE SERVICES REIFF AND ASSOCIATES, LLC
SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PEOPLE OF
STEUBENVILLE, OHIO & WEIRTON, WEST VIRGINIA
ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE COURTESY OF HEAVY HEARTED, REBECCA KIGER, MASTER OF CEREMONIES
ORIGINAL MUNSIC RECORDED & MIXED AT ZOO CREATIVES, MARINA DEL REY, CA
FEATURED STRINGS NAVID HEJAZI
FEATURED GUITAR DREW DENTON
MUSIC ASSISTANT CECE WEN
MUSIC PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE PAYAM FAKHRARA
THIS PROGRAM WAS PRODUCED BY SUNSET PARK PICTURES
WHICH IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS CONTENT.
© SUNSET PARK PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
SUNSET PARK PICTURES
BRASS MILL MEDIA
Made with the support of
TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE