As the Steubenville rape case continues to unfold on the Internet, as well as in mainstream news programming and writings, Sheriff Fred Abdalla clearly has had his fill of computer hacktivists. He's telling anyone who will listen to let the judicial system operate.
"This case is still under investigation. It'll be under investigation until the trial starts and more information will be presented. We've got a good judge who's a no nonsense judge handling this case. You've got two prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General's Office handling this case," says Abdalla.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla does not shy away from controversy. He shares his thoughts on the rally, the videos, and hacktivists. He tells of receiving phone calls at home ever since the video first broke on Christmas Eve, and up until the first Occupy Steubenville rally last Saturday. Abdalla welcomed that rally, understanding their sentiments about the rape case. Something caused him to change his mind this week.
"When they came into the county last Saturday, I had respect for them. I thought their cause was right. They thought there was some injustice going on. You have a right to stand up for that," Abdalla said, "but when you cross the line and start character assassination, they've lost their mission." Abdalla believes hacktivists have steered away from their original cause, and now simply desire notoriety.
"When you're under character assassination, how do you defend yourself? It's difficult to do that but when these people come into this county and tell me it's a dirty county and they wouldn't live here and it's corrupt and they wouldn't live here then don't live here! But I do live here and so do about 70,000 other people live in this county." adds Abdalla.
Sheriff Abdalla says he's proud of Jefferson County. He views the video released Wednesday as "disgusting." Now that video has attracted more national coverage to the case.
"This is all over the world now. It's in the Huffington Post and New York Times but some of these papers are reporting this stuff based on what this Anonymous is telling them. How do you support what they're saying? Where's your proof? I thought newspapers where to be able to back it up with good, solid information. How can you do a story when someone is giving you information that's not even factual?" says Abdalla.
Cable News Network has dispatched a crew and satellite uplink truck in preparation for the Saturday rally. A emailed statement from Steubenville head football coach Reno Saccoccia asserts that a CNN report broadcast on "AC360" Thursday night contains inaccuracies. According to the statement, CNN was offered a live broadcast opportunity with Saccoccia. The network declined, and sent a reporter for a recorded interview opportunity, which Saccoccia declined.
As for the Saturday protest, Abdalla hopes things stay peaceful. He says both the Sheriffs Department and Steubenville Police Department have prepared for any number of contingencies.