Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Woman charged with harassment over suggestive post

August 19, 2009

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A Missouri woman is accused of cyberbullying for allegedly posting photos and personal information of a teenage girl on the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist after an Internet argument.

Prosecutors said 40-year-old Elizabeth A. Thrasher posted the 17-year-old’s picture, e-mail address and cell phone number on the Web site in a posting that suggested the girl was seeking a sexual encounter.

St. Charles County Lt. Craig McGuire said Tuesday that the victim is the daughter of Thrasher’s ex-husband’s girlfriend. The girl, who has not been named, received lewd messages and photographs from men she didn’t know and contacted police.

Thrasher, of St. Peters, is the first person charged with felony harassment in St. Charles County under a law passed in Missouri after the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who was the victim of an Internet hoax in a nearby community that drew international attention.

Thrasher was freed on $10,000 bond, but the judge barred her from having a computer or Internet access at home. No one answered the door at her house in a neighborhood about 25 miles northwest of St. Louis. Neighbors said she and her two children had just moved in recently.

Her attorney, Michael Kielty, said what Thrasher was accused of was no different from someone posting a number on a bathroom wall, telling people to “call Jane Doe for a good time.”

“It may be in poor taste. It may be inappropriate, but it’s not criminal behavior,” Kielty said. He said the state law was poorly written and Thrasher was devastated by the charges.

Authorities said Thrasher and the 17-year-old’s mother had been arguing, and there was some back-and-forth bickering on MySpace among all three. “Who started what is up for debate,” said St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas.

McGuire said Thrasher then created the posting on Craigslist — whose “Casual Encounters” section warns that the pages may include adult content — that included the teen’s picture, employer, e-mail address and cell phone number. She received calls, e-mails, text messages and pornographic photos to her cell phone, police said.

If convicted of felony harassment, Thrasher could face up to four years in state prison, or up to a year in county jail, and a $5,000 fine, Banas said.

Under the harassment law that took effect last August, a cyberbullying offense can be charged as a felony if a victim is 17 or younger and the suspect 21 or older. Misdemeanor cases have been filed since then.

The law was spurred by the Megan Meier case, in which an adult neighbor, her daughter and a friend were linked to a MySpace page concocted to appear to be that of a teenage boy. “Josh” initially flirted with Megan but then made hurtful comments shortly before she hanged herself.

Comments

jaywalker 5 years, 11 months ago

"“It may be in poor taste. It may be inappropriate, but it’s not criminal behavior,” Kielty said. He said the state law was poorly written and Thrasher was devastated by the charges"

It should be, and I reckon it will be after this. His client is devastated by the charges? LOCK HER UP!!!! What the hell's goin' on outside St. Louis?!

lawthing 5 years, 11 months ago

Since it involved the internet I am surprised it was not considered Federal!

StirrrThePot 5 years, 11 months ago

When I was a college freshman about 16 years ago, the Internet was still pretty new to many people. I was using usenet and gopher and one day I forgot to logoff before leacing the PC I was on in the university's computing center. The next time I checked my email, I had over a thousand messages from men I didn't know who were answering my "ad" on the "alt sex wanted" section of the newsgroup I was logged in on previously. Ooooooooops. And that wasn't even after an online argument. I learned a powerful lesson there.

GardenMomma 5 years, 11 months ago

Consumer1, isn't this already done on the TV show - "To Catch A Predator?" I think that's what its called.

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