Man who took control of fan website talks

STEUBENVILLE – The individual who gained control of a local Steubenville Big Red sports fan website said he did so to shed light on a local rape investigation involving two Steubenville High School student-athletes.

“I wanted to just get the word out,” Noah said. “The story sounded a bit shady, so I figured I would help.”

The 22-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., resident agreed to an interview with the Herald-Star and asked that his last name not be used, however, his identity has been confirmed.

The case involves two 16-year-olds who are charged with raping an underage girl after end-of-summer parties five months ago. Trent Mays of Bloomingdale and Ma’Lik Richmond of Steubenville, student-athletes at Steubenville High School, have been charged with raping the girl, also 16, at a party Aug. 11-12. Mays also is charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, the result of pictures of the naked victim that investigators testified were attached to text messages allegedly sent from his cell phone. Attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges in court

Visiting Juvenile Judge Thomas Lipps decided last week that the trial of the two will be held in open court on March 13. He denied a motion for a change of venue.

On Dec. 23, the website was compromised with a video and message posted from someone identifying himself as with “KnightSec” and also with “Anonymous” – an internationally known hacker-activist group.

After the site was compromised, the video and demands made went viral on the Internet and on social media websites. The effort drew national media attention and even the attention of celebrities like Rosanne Barr.

The two key players in the initial effort turned to Twitter and started a conversation with supporters and, to a certain degree, detractors. The individual who appeared in the video wearing the Guy Fawkes mask went by the KYAnonymous Twitter screen name, but that account was later suspended.

KYAnonymous also took credit for organizing “OperationRollRedRoll,” which put together the first protest rally in Steubenville.

Noah, who said his only role was temporarily taking over the local website, still maintains a JustBatCat Twitter account and, for many months, has used the “BatCat” name.

Noah’s involvement came by way of a conversation with KYAnonymous. “KY approached me,” Noah said. “I’ve only used the ‘BatCat’ name for this one hack. I planned from the beginning to delete ‘JustBatCat’ (Twitter name) after it was done.”

Noah said getting in and taking control of the website “took about 15 minutes.”

It was not a hack that involved cracking deep into code but relied on a combination of good luck and poor security measures. “I was able to get into his Comcast account by answering his ‘forgot your password’ (security) question correctly. His (the site owner’s security) answer was ‘Big Red,’ Noah said. “I then just used that to get into the web hosting (account).”

A file reportedly containing the personal e-mails of site owner and webmaster Jim Parks was released by the group. Also, KnightSec threatened to release Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and personal information about those it claimed were involved in the alleged rape.

The website was compromised a second time, days after the initial takeover, but was quickly secured and has remained secure since.

Noah said that was the extent of his involvement. “I don’t plan to have any further role (in the Steubenville case),” he said. “I haven’t had an active role in a long time.”

He did, however, gain more than 5,000 followers on Twitter almost overnight, and hid his true identity behind the BatCat mask until recently.

“It was going to come out anyways,” Noah said about the behind-the-scenes activity that resulted in his disclosure. He concluded that if his identity was going to be revealed, he would be the one to do it.

He posted several photos of himself on Twitter and sent one to the Herald-Star offices.

Noah said he was surprised at the recognition for his role and described how fast it grew into a national and international story as “astounding.” He said getting the chance to talk to Barr was probably the strangest aspect of the case.

Otherwise, Noah said he lives a typical Virginia Beach lifestyle and is interested in snowboarding, rally racing, hanging out at home with his pets, playing video games and traveling. “Pretty normal stuff,” he added. “I honestly take everything with a grain of salt and with a sense of humor. I think it is really important.”

As far as possibly facing legal action due to his role, Noah said, “I don’t think so,” and noted it was not a government site that was compromised.

Computers and gadgets are hobbies, Noah said, and he indicated he’s a civilian contract worker for the Department of Defense.

Noah said he does not harbor any bad feelings about Steubenville – a town he said he’s never visited. “I have no judgments on any of the people,” he said. “I’ve never spoken ill about any of them.”

The goal was to raise awareness about the case, Noah maintains. “I think we have got more eyes on the trial, which is good.”

He plans on deleting the “BatCat” account when the trial is over.