Deric Lostutter, the Clark County online activist known as “KYAnonymous” who helped draw national attention to an Ohio rape case, was indicted on four felony counts Thursday by a federal grand jury in Lexington.
The indictment says Lostutter violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act when he “knowingly and intentionally joined and voluntarily participated in a conspiracy” to access a computer without authorization. The purpose of the conspirators was to “harass and intimidate and to gain publicity for their online identities,” the indictment says.
The indictment does not identify Lostutter’s co-conspirator other than to say that the person lived in Virginia and used the online identity of “JustBatCat.”
The indictment comes more than three years after FBI agents raided Lostutter’s home in Clark County in April 2013. A search warrant filed at the time said authorities were looking for evidence of computer crime, identity theft and conspiracy.
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Lostutter, 29, whose Facebook page says he now lives in North Carolina, played a role in spreading tweets, photos and videos on social media that helped draw attention to the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, that involved a 16-year-old girl who was passed out drunk and a high school football team.
Two football players were convicted in early 2013; one was sentenced to one year in jail, the other received a two-year sentence.
If convicted in the Kentucky case, Lostutter could face a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison (no more than five years on each of three counts, and one year on a fourth).
The indictment says that on Dec. 21, 2012, Lostutter sent a message seeking the co-conspirator’s help “as part of a computer hack to draw attention to” the Ohio rape case.
Lostutter allegedly sent the co-conspirator a message with an instruction in how to gain access to a fan website for the Steubenville football team.
On Dec. 23, 2013, Lostutter and the co-conpsirator “gained unauthorized access” to an email account and obtained information stored in the account, including nude photos belonging to other victims. Lostutter and the co-conspirator then downloaded emails without authorization, the indictment says.
They also gained unauthorized access to a password-protected account management page for the website and changed the administrator’s password for the site, the indictment says.
Lostutter then recorded a video of himself in a mask and issued threats “that he would disclose the personal identifying information of Steubenville High School students” and falsely claimed that one person was a “child pornographer” who directed a “rape crew.”
(In interviews with various media outlets, Lostutter acknowledged wearing a smiling mask styled after Guy Fawkes, an Englishman who tried to blow up Parliament with gunpowder in 1605. The federal search warrant of Lostutter’s home listed “Guy Fawkes masks” among the items agents were looking for.)
The indictment says Lostutter later changed the administrator’s user name and password for the site to prevent a person from regaining control of the site. Lostutter also instructed the co-conspirator to delete electronic evidence of their access to the password-protected account in order to avoid detection of their actual identities.
Lostutter told the Herald-Leader in a 2013 interview that he never hacked anything, but became skilled at attracting public attention by spreading material that others gathered. Lostutter has maintained in other published interviews that he did not hack into the Steubenville team’s website, but that he only made videos and tweeted about the Steubenville case and others, a practice that he called “weaponizing the media.”
The indictment also says Lostutter made “at least one materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement and representation” to the FBI “by stating that he had not written the manifesto posted” to the website, that he had not accessed the password-protected site, and that he had not changed the administrator password for the site.
Lostutter’s actions in the Ohio case attracted national media attention, including a 2013 profile in Rolling Stone magazine, an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, and various other interviews with magazines, newspapers and websites from as far away as Britain and Australia.
In a 2013 interview with Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen, Lostutter said he studied for a semester at Strayer University in Lexington to learn more about computer forensics, saying, “I pretty much wanted to be a hacker for the government.”
Then he saw the film We Are Legion, which profiled the loose network of radical computer-hacking activists or “hacktivists” who call themselves Anonymous.
“It was like mind-blowing,” Lostutter said of the movie. “I was, like, there’s people out there with the same interests I have, so I’m not such a freak any more. I just identified with that.”
Court records did not identify an attorney for Lostutter. A summons ordered him to be in U.S. District Court in Lexington on Aug. 9. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves.