The man who claimed responsibility for the leaks that drew national attention to the Steubenville rape case now says Amazon.com recently fired him because of his association with the loosely-affiliated network of “hacktivists” known as Anonymous.
Deric Lostutter, 26, told The Huffington Post that he began his job at a new Amazon call center in Winchester, Ky., earlier this month, but was fired after his supervisors discovered his home had been raided by the FBI in connection with the Steubenville case.
“They pulled out a list of online articles and asked for my side of the story, then escorted me off the property stating that even though i havnt [sic] been charged, i could no longer work there because it made them feel uncomfortable that i have a political affiliation with anonymous,” Lostutter told HuffPost in a text message.
Lostutter said he was told not to come back to work after his first day on the job and officially fired several days later.
Amazon did not return several requests for comment. Lostutter sent HuffPost a picture of his Amazon insurance card as a verification of employment.
Employers in Kentucky can hire and fire people as they like, as long as that reason isn't an illegal one (like racial or religious discrimination). Lostutter's legal options are limited, said Kurt Scharfenberger, a Louisville, Ky.-based attorney who specializes in labor law.
“If it’s alleged you’ve done some sort of misdeed, your employer may suspend or fire you,” Scharfenberger said. “It’s certainly not fair, but it is legal.”
“Unfortunately the law is pretty narrow when it comes to termination,” he added.
Lostutter, who also goes by the screen name KYAnonymous, took credit in an interview with HuffPost for leaking "all the photos that the players had already posted then erased" in the Steubenville High School rape case, where two football players were ultimately found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl. A photo of the players carrying the victim while she was passed out, along with a video that showed a former Steubenville baseball player making jokes about raping a “dead” girl, helped draw widespread attention to the case and sparked outrage across the country. Lostutter said he had a hand in leaking the infamous video as well.
"The tweets, screenshots, Instagrams ... Pretty much everything you've seen in the media, that came through me," Lostutter told HuffPost in June. However, he noted, any images that went public were sent to him, and not the product of hacking.
FBI agents -- guns drawn -- raided Lostutter’s home in April. Agents took his laptop, flash drives, an external hard drive and two mobile phones, among other things.
According to Gawker’s Adrian Chen, the FBI targeted Lostutter in connection with the December 2012 hack of RollRedRoll.com, the fan site of the Steubenville High School football team, and the email account of its webmaster, James Parks. After the site was hacked, a video of Lostutter -- wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and threatening to disclose personal information of Steubenville football players if they didn’t apologize to the victim -- appeared on the website.
Although Lostutter gloated about the website hack during an interview with Chen -- but later asked Chen not to include that comment in his story -- he maintains he didn’t hack the site or email account. According to a report in The Herald Star, a man in Virginia Beach, Va., identified as BatCat, claimed responsibility for the hack.
Tor Ekeland, Lostutter’s lawyer who's representing him in the FBI investigation, told HuffPost that although there is a U.S. attorney assigned to his case in connection with the Steubenville fan site hacking, there is no indictment against Lostutter.
As for his firing from Amazon, Lostutter's next steps are unclear. He told HuffPost he started a new job on Friday, describing it only as an "IT consultant."
But it's not difficult to see why a company like Amazon, which handles sensitive customer information like credit card numbers and addresses and has a robust cloud computing business, might be hesitant to employ someone whose home was raided by the FBI in connection with hacking.
Lostutter said that he passed a drug test and background check before he was hired by Amazon, but it appears that the company didn't do a simple Google search before it brought him on. The FBI raid was covered extensively online.
"It’s not like I want anything from Amazon," Lostutter told HuffPost. "But I want to make it known that discrimination won’t be tolerated. We have rights just like anybody else has," he said, referring to members of Anonymous. "We’re not Al Qaeda. We’re not trying to destroy America and the American people. We’re the 99 percent.”
Hunter Stuart and Will Goodman contributed reporting to this article.
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place