STEUBENVILLE - A visibly angry Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Friday night his department and other agencies are now investigating an unofficial Anonymous member who has claimed credit for last week's protest rally and a second rally scheduled to be held at noon today on Market Street.
"Anonymous can say whatever they want to say about me. But when you attack innocent people and young children, I am coming after you," Abdalla declared during a Friday evening press conference in his office.
"We have a good idea who this Anonymous person is. I know where he lives. I know his mother's name, his father's name and his brother's name. This is not the real Anonymous. Enough is enough. You had your fun. People will believe what they want to believe. But I credit the Steubenville Police Department for the job they did. They had the investigation into this incident wrapped up in four or five days after the rape was reported to them in August," continued Abdalla.
Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison announced late Friday afternoon the city will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. today to discuss the focus on the city regarding the rape investigation.
Abdalla said his office is working with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and other agencies to investigate the Anonymous group that has organized the protest rallies in Steubenville.
Earlier this week Anonymous released a statement alleging local officials had participated in a cover-up of the sexual attack.
"It's time to put up or shut up. If you think I am corrupt, then prove it. I stand up as the sheriff and I back down from no human. This person can say what he wants about me but when you do a hatchet job on children, then I am coming after you. With all the crackpots and sex offenders in the world why would anyone put children's names out there?" Abdalla asked.
"Parents are very concerned about their children. This is going to stop. This person is taking credit for uncovering a disgusting video of a young man talking about the rape. The Steubenville police have had that video and passed it on to the Ohio attorney general's office early on in the investigation. That specific video is disgusting and nauseating. But you can't arrest that person for being stupid. Now, this Anonymous individual is taking credit for uncovering the video and that is false," stressed Abdalla.
Abdalla said he has been asked, "Why I didn't take control of the investigation. But the parents of the young girl went to the Steubenville Police Department to report the rape. There were kids at two different houses and no one outside of law enforcement knows where the alleged rape took place."
"The police department interviewed 59 people. No new evidence has been uncovered since the early days of the investigation. Some of the evidence found by the police department will be used at the trial. Other names have been posted. And those people are innocent. Testimony was presented at a juvenile court hearing by three individuals who were there at the time of the incident. And they testified only two people had sexual contact with the victim," Abdalla said.
"Names have been posted on the Internet of innocent people. They committed no criminal acts. One individual wasn't even in Jefferson County, much less Steubenville, when the alleged rape occurred," added Abdalla.
The sheriff expressed concern about today's noon rally in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.
""I am sure it will be a peaceful rally. And, we will deal with any problems at this time," said Abdalla.
"The majority of the people who were at last week's rally and who will be there again this week are concerned about the victim. But there will be some people there who want to yell and curse the Steubenville police. And that is wrong," Abdalla said.