November 18, 2016
Rachel Cassidy: Ohio University Student Misidentified As False Rape Accuser, Forced Into Hiding

Rachel Cassidy has been forced into hiding after internet vigilantes incorrectly identified the Ohio University student as a woman they believe leveled a false rape accusation against a fellow student.

The incident stems from a report of sexual assault during the university's homecoming weekend. A young couple engaged in what appeared to bystanders to be a consensual sexual act in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, but the woman claimed that it was actually sexual assault.

A group of internet vigilantes on the image-sharing site 4chan decided that the woman was lying, and set out to find her identity. Linking to a video of the incident uploaded to World Star Hip Hop Uncut, some members ascertained that the woman resembled Rachel Cassidy, a sophomore student in the journalism program at Ohio University.

Peter Nolan, a men's rights activist who operates the site Crimes Against Fathers, picked up on the 4chan report and decided to take it a step further, posting her full identity.

Nolan said he uses the site to "name and shame" woman who be believes are bringing false accusations against men.

"It's a site that men could come to had they been a victim of a crime," he says, speaking with BuzzFeed. "The family courts are used to destroy men like this."

Nolan said he believes the video clearly showed that the incident was not rape, and published a cadre of personal information on Rachel Cassidy including pictures from her Facebook page. Users took the opportunity to insult her appearance and weight.

"No wonder she was so pleased at a bit of male attention," one user wrote.

The personal information was also distributed on 4chan and through some members of the site's activist spin-off, Anonymous. As a result, Rachel was inundated with hateful and threatening messages, and forced to delete her social media accounts and go into hiding.

But Rachel Cassidy has maintained that she was not the woman depicted in the video, and in fact she was nowhere near where the alleged sexual assault took place.

"I wasn't even doing anything related to Homecoming having fun, so that's annoying. I was probably asleep in my bed when this happened, and now I'm being blamed for it," she told the university's newspaper, The Post.

This has been backed up by both police and officials at Ohio University. Jenny Hall-Jones, the university's dean of students, said Cassidy is "100 percent" not the woman shown in the video.

The girl's parents made the nine-hour drive from Long Island to Ohio University to support their daughter, but said the damage is done.

"Our daughter has been victimized by the Internet, and in this day and age it's very hard to validate yourself," said her mother, Theresa. "That's our name, that's her name, and she's going to have to live with that for the rest of her life."

Peter Nolan said even if it's true that Cassidy was not the woman pictured, he doesn't care what happens to her.

"If Rachel Cassidy goes out tomorrow and buys a gun and blows her head off that's not a problem for me. I'm prepared to say that in the public," he says. "Now the reason I'm prepared to say that in the public is because I'm reflecting back the exact same attitude that it would be if it were a man."

Peter Nolan does see an opportunity in the Rachel Cassidy case, however. In a note explaining that the site is against its bandwidth limit, he encourages visitors who support his mission to check the site's donation page.