At least one of the girls appears to be related to Malik Richmond, one of the men convicted on Sunday.
“Let me be clear. Threatening a teenage rape victim will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement. “If anyone makes a threat verbally or via the Internet, we will take it seriously, we will find you, and we will arrest you.”
While the Attorney General’s Office did not release the names of the teenagers, the content of their tweets or how they came to the attention of authorities, there are plenty of clues online.
Twitter accounts that appear to belong to the two girls have been deleted. Searching their usernames pulls up a variety of condemning tweets, including messages like “your tweet has been screen capped and sent to the authorities” and “Threats noted & reported to police for prosecution and release to news media.”
Online watchdogs also complained about a third Twitter user who has deleted his or her account and who has apparently not been charged. But authorities told the Herald Star they were “pursuing information about a male juvenile who allegedly made comments about the rape victim.”
One of the threatening tweets read: “You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you b---- it’s gone be a homicide.” That matches a statement given by the 16-year-old girl’s sister and guardian, who told the Herald Star that she was “quoting a rap song in her tweet.” It comes from the song “Tramautized” by Meek Mill.
On Facebook, the same girl posted multiple photos of Richmond with messages like “I love my cousin w all my heart” and “I love you boys so much.”
An account that appears to belong to the 15-year-old girl tweeted that she would celebrate the verdict “by beating the s--- out of” the victim. She later apologized, tweeting: “I’m very sorry for my actions and only was posting things out of anger. I apologize if anyone was offended by my posts.” According to CNN, the girl turned herself in to police. A woman claiming to be her mother commented on a watchdog site that the girl was “in tears” and “more sorry than I’ve ever seen her” and that she had been banned from social media.
Both girls appear to have been threatened, themselves. On Twitter, dozens of users claiming to belong to the hacker group Anonymous told the girls they would hack their computers, steal their money and release their personal information publicly. One man tweeted the 15-year-old’s phone number, inviting people to call “this dirty hoe” and “ask her why she’s pro-rapist.”
The incident is only the latest twist in a case fraught by social media confusion and abuse. The rape itself first came to light through a series of tweets, Instagrams and Youtube videos from the party where it occurred. Prosecutors will convene a grand jury on April 15 to consider whether more people should be charged, apparently for circulating evidence of the rape on social media or failing to report it.
“This has been particularly hard for the victim and her family,” DeWine said after the verdict on Sunday. “As I said already, any rape is a tragedy. But, it is even more of a tragedy when that victim is continually re-victimized in the social media.”