Reporter: If every picture tells a story, prosecutors say this is one of humiliation and helplessness. An intoxicated girl in the clutches of two assailants, 16-year-old ma'lik richmond and... See More
Reporter: If every picture tells a story, prosecutors say this is one of humiliation and helplessness. An intoxicated girl in the clutches of two assailants, 16-year-old ma'lik richmond and 17-year-old trent mays. It's one of many photos taken that night and circulating among the teenagers of steubenville. What did you think when you saw that? I cried. Reporter: Why? It's a very powerful image. Reporter: Within days of the incident, it's plucked off the internet by former steubenville resident alexandria goddard. A crime blogger who makes her living sleuthing through social media. She becomes a crusader on a mission to reconstruct that night and uncover how a night of teenage revelry turned into rape. I got all of the names of the football players and then I just started looking on twitter to see if they had accounts. Reporter: What kinds of tweets did you read? I think the first one that i found was, "some people deserve to get peed on." And then tweeting, "the song of the night is 'rape me' by nirvana." Reporter: I can't imagine your reaction to that. I was appalle I was shocked. Reporter: And there are other tweets, like, "i have no sympathy for whores" and " who's this sloppy drunk ?" Goddard puts the offensive tweets on her blog. Then yet another appalling revelation. I found that there was a video that had been uploaded with the tags, "drunk girl" and "rape." I knew that it was 12 minutes and 29 seconds. And I knew that michael nodianos was in that video. Reporter: And you knew michael nodianos was from steubenville. Yes. And one of the -- Reporter: And at the parties that night. And one of their friends. And so, I wanted to -- like everyone else, what's on it? Reporter: The video shows the former steubenville student callously joking about the incident. That's like rape. It is rape. They raped they raped her. This is the funniest thing -- they raped her harder than that cop raped marsales wallis in "pulp fiction." Reporter: Goddard's blog piques the interest of another social media watchdog, the mysterious hacker activist group anonymous, known for its agenda of targeting injustice. It takes things a step further, posting the video online. It goes viral, and suddenly nodianos is anything but anonymous. What if that was your daughter? But it isn't. What if it was? If that was my daughter, i woul I'd just let her be dead. You don't know if she wanted to or not. She might have wanted to. That might have been her final wish. I couldn't listen to it completely all the way through. It was just that upsetting. A room full of guys laughi about someone that they -- they're stating, "she was raped." Reporter: Angry protesters flock to the doorstep of the steubenville courthouse during a preliminary hearing, demanding answers to why more boys who knew of the crime, some of whom witnessed it, had not been arrested. We want justice! We want justice! Rape is not a sport! Justice for jane doe! Reporter: Some allege a coverup. That the football-obsessed town went to great lengths to protect its athletes from punishment. These boys are out walking around. I don't want that trash walking around where I live. Reporter: The group anonymous posts its own video, warning anyone they believe involved in the alleged crime to be on notice. The town has been good at keeping this quiet and their star football team protected. We will not sit and watch a group of young men get a pass because of athletic ability. This is a call to arms. Reporter: At the center of the storm, trent mays and ma'lik richmond. Before they were tried and convicted, their families gave "20/20" exclusive access to their homes, while the boys were under house arrest. The parents say the young men had been normal teenaged boys, never involved in anything criminal before. Linda mays is trent's mother. People that know him know that that's not him. He's always been what I think everyone would consider a role model. Even though I'm not ma'lik's mother, he knows how I feel about him. Reporter: For ma'lik, it's another twist in a life story seemingly ripped from a well-known movie script. Have you any place to stay tonight? Don't you dare lie to me. Come on. Reporter: Just as in the movie "the blind side," the agrestas took ma'lik in to help him escape a youth defined by poverty and violence. You had some rough times, didn't you? Yeah, we were sitting in our my living room and you hear a big gunshot. The bullet flew past my cousin's head and basically every house i lived in was the same exact thing. Being shot up. Reporter: His ticket out from bullets and broken homes was sports. At 8 years of age, ma'lik joined a pee-wee football team. Greg was the coach. He always caught my attention, because he was pretty gifted at that time. Much more than any other child. I said, this is a special kid. I'm going to do what I can to help him out. Reporter: They took on custody of ma'lik for two years, until he was 10 years old. They have remained close ever since. I was looking at your mant m over your shoulder at all the pictures of your family and ma'lik is in all of those pictures, or many of them. Was he really a member of your family? Absolutely. Reporter: But "the blind side" meets "friday night lights" now meets the accused. Accused of raping a high school sophomore from across the river. A girl from a close-knit family. The world knows her as 16-year-old jane doe. She's a nice girl. Reporter: Two teens on the verge of a rape conviction. All because a camera's eye captured evidence that would help the prosecution build its case.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.