A group of vigilante hackers has promised retribution after the alleged rape of a high school cheerleader went unprosecuted.
Time US reports that Anonymous, an international band of internet activists, is targeting the rural Missouri town of Maryville after the Kansas City Star published a story about a possible rape case that went unprosecuted by local authorities.
Known for successful hacks of powerful organisations such as the Church of Scientology, PayPal and even the government of Brazil, an Anonymous synthesized voice recording warned Maryville Mayor Jim Fall and other officials to "expect us".
"If Maryville won't defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them," the statement says.
The Kansas City Star reports that in the early hours of January 8, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman and a 13-year-old friend climbed from a bedroom window to join their 17-year-old "friend" at his house.
At the time, the 17-year-old was a Maryville High School football star and Daisy was a freshman cheerleader.
The boy, also the grandson of a former state Republican, later admitted to police that he knew the girl was drinking at his house and that he had sex with her while she was drunk, according to the Kansas City Star. The encounter was allegedly recorded on a friend's iPhone.
Other witnesses told police the 17-year-old loaded the girl, in tears, into his car and left her unconscious on her front porch in freezing temperatures. When Daisy's mother found her the following morning her hair was frozen.
Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White told the Star that he "absolutely" expected the case to end up in court.
"Within four hours, we had obtained a search warrant for the house and executed that. We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions."
Instead, the charges were dropped, much of the town turned on the Coleman family, Daisy's mother Melinda was fired from her job, and-after the Colemans left town-their house burned down under suspicious circumstances.
(Daisy's mother gave the Kansas City Star permission to name her daughter.)