Goddard, a former Steubenville resident, discovered and preserved many of the messages, at least some of which are now in the hands of authorities. She first spotted the story in the small town's newspaper and started looking into the situation on a hunch that the highly regarded football team's members were getting special treatment at the expense of the victim.
"When I first came across the article, I just felt like -- because it was involving football players, and there is a culture there that football is very important -- that there was probably a little more to this story than what the local media was reporting," she told CNN on Thursday. "So I started doing my own research."
The case gained additional exposure this week when a group calling itself Knight Sec and saying it is part of Anonymous -- the loosely organized cooperative of activist hackers -- published a video purporting to show Steubenville students discussing the assault in joking tones.
In the video, a teenager makes joke after joke about the girl's condition, saying she must have died because she didn't move during one assault.
Anonymous and others in the video identified the teen by a name that doesn't match the two who were charged, but CNN cannot independently confirm his identity.
"Is it really rape because you don't know if she wanted to or not," the teenager says on the video. "She might have wanted to. That might have been her final wish."
Other male voices can be heard off-camera, laughing and talking about the alleged assault. McCafferty said he cannot say who shot that video.
"The subject in that video was interviewed. He wasn't charged," the chief told CNN. "The attorney general's office has all this. It appears to me after I watched the video he was intoxicated."
Anonymous has taken up the case, hacking a site dedicated to high school sports in Steubenville and separately publishing on one of its websites a trove of images, texts and accusations involving students, coaches and boosters. Those individuals have not been named or charged by authorities with any crime.
Anonymous says it is collecting detailed information about the personal affairs of football boosters and others in Steubenville who the group claims may have helped cover up the alleged attack. It's also planning a protest "to help those who have been victimized by the football team or other regimes."
"The town of Steubenville has been good at keeping this quiet and their star football team protected," an Anonymous member wearing the group's trademark Guy Fawkes mask says in a video posted to the group's LocalLeaks website.
The organization, he says, will not allow "a group of young men who turn to rape as a game or sport get the pass because of athletic ability or small-town luck."
The attorney for the girl's family told CNN that the girl is in counseling and is "doing as well as one can expect."
"She's trying to go about her life right now, which is difficult because of all the media attention," Fitzsimmons said. "It's as if she's just flown into this barnstorm. She'll make it through."
Speaking on CNN's "AC360," he said: "I think we lose sight; this is a 16-year-old girl. She's a high school kid, basically."