Teenagers In YouTube Attack to be Charged as Adults

The seven Florida teens who filmed a brutal attack on Victoria Lindsay, 16, for the YouTube video shown below will be charged as adults and could see some serious jail time. Mercades Nichols, 17, Brittini Hardcastle, 17, and Britney Mayes, 17, will face charges of felonious battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping in connection with the attack. Cara Murphy, 16, Kayla Hassell, 15, April Cooper, 14, Zachary Ashley, 17, and Stephen Schumaker, 18, will face charges of felonious battery and false imprisonment. Now, an innocent couple (thought to be the parents of Zachary Ashley) have been hounded when their telephone number was posted on YouTube.

The attack occurred on on March 30 when Lindsay arrived at a friend’s home. For the video, click here.

The video clearly shows not just the unprovoked attacks but by the barring of Lindsay’s attempts to leave. Kidnapping is harder to square, but is hardly needed. I have received inquiries about the false imprisonment charge. This charge works a little differently under criminal law than torts. However, the refusal to allow Lindsay to leave satisfies the elements of both in this case. If she was simply being attacked, it would have been harder. However, the portion of the video showing one girls putting her hand on the door and stopping Lindsay is probably sufficient. Indeed, Lindsay could sue in tort for battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault.

There also appear to be charged of witness tampering in the criminal case.

In another interesting twist, a Florida couple’n telephone number was mistakenly or maliciously posted by a YouTube poster with the number of the teens in the beating. Darlene and Jerry Ashley have received hundreds of irate calls. This is not the first such case, but the Ashley will have difficulty proceeding against YouTube for not taking down the number immediately. In the case of Zeran v. AOL, the Fourth Circuit rejected an appeal of a man who was mistakenly identified as the source of obnoxious teeshirts following the Oklahoma City bombing. He informed AOL of the mistake, but the company refused to take down the posting. A radio station later gave out his telephone number. Shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, an unknown person posted messages onto an AOL bulletin board falsely implicating Zeran. Zeran filed a lawsuit against AOL for the allegedly defamatory postings. The case concerned the question of whether AOL may be liable for allegedly being unreasonably slow to remove a series of allegedly defamatory messages posted on AOL message boards by an unidentified third party.

The United States District Court for Eastern District of Virginia granted judgment in favor of AOL, on the basis of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the “Good Samaritan” provision, which protects providers of interactive computer services from liability for defamatory information posted on the network by a third party. The Fourth Circuit agreed with the dismissal, citing Section 230(c)(1), which states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

To make matters worse, when Zeran sued the radio station, his claim was viewed as valid but he was unable to show specific damages in defamation to collect anything. Clearly, however, the Ashley’s can sue the original poster if they could find him or her. This would have to be done by subpoena or with the assistance of the police, as in the recent CraigsList case, click here.

This case is the perfect storm of the new Internet cases. It involves an attack that was intended for YouTube but triggered allegedly on statements made by Lindsay on MySpace and ultimately implicated the wrong couple on a posting.

27 thoughts on “Teenagers In YouTube Attack to be Charged as Adults”

  1. Jay:

    An eerie silence grows over the land as I say once again that I have to agree with you once again. Not evrything done in the name of Christianity is “Christian” just as not everything done against the religion is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Every case stands on its own.

  2. “History is replete with examples of Christian barbaric behaviour along with the required approval (direction) from Church hierarchy.”

    Hugh,

    I think I understand your overall point, but most would agree that anything done by “Christians” in contradiction of the teachings of Christ Himslef is not Christian. Religion can really mess up Christianity if one is not careful.

  3. Hello Kate Sim,

    I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. I like your idea of sharing this info with others. It will be interesting to hear their responses. I am wishing you all the best!

    Jill

  4. Dear Jill:

    Thank you! No, I feel completely safe in my school but it’s just that uncomforting feeling. After reading this article, I posted something in my school website for other students and faculty to read. Many of them are glad that we live in safe environment but we all agreed that it is necessary to reinforce the danger of wrong internet usage. Personally, my friends and I would like to make a get-well card for Victoria to show her our support and concern. =]

    Thank you,
    Kate Sim

    and Thank you mespo727272 for that information.

  5. Jay:

    If she was singled out for her religion and less likely to fight back, I am with you that this is a hate crime. I suspect it has more to do with more mundane teenage issues however. We shall have to wait and see.

  6. Jay,

    “I seriously doubt that these young ladies are “church-goers”. But even if they are, there is a significant difference between church-goers and believing, practicing Christians.”

    Tomás de Torquemada is only the most famous believing, practicing Christian who illustrates such hypocrasy. History is replete with examples of Christian barbaric behaviour along with the required approval (direction) from Church hierarchy.

  7. P.S. After looking a the pictures of the cheerleaders above, I have to ask: Those ladies were cheerleaders? Really? : )

  8. “But I would be interested to know how many of the perpetrators,and also if the victim (she also seems no stranger to conflict as she apparently has no trepidation concerning making inflammatory statements on her MySpace page)are regular church-goers. That would really get our usual debate off the ground! I bet most (and their families) are, what say you?”

    I seriously doubt that these young ladies are “church-goers”. But even if they are, there is a significant difference between church-goers and believing, practicing Christians.

    I’ve heard that there’s the possibility that the Myspace posts may have been posted by someone else with access–a setup or mean prank. And after watching the video, I also noticed that the young lady receiving the abuse did not fight back or defender herself, but otherwise attempted to leave the situation. What if that young lady was the only church-goer? Now, wouldn’t that be even more interesting if there was an element of hate-crime, i.e. singling out a victim based on her particular faith knowing full well that she was not likely to fight back?

  9. Dear Kate Sim,

    I hope you are not in any danger of being harmed by your friends or anyone else. No one deserves to be harmed or to be in fear of harm. If this is the case for you please bring it up, again and again, if necessary to your school, parent(s) and any adult you think will listen.

    If you need referals to websites for help with violence against young women, post back at this site, and I (and I’m certain others) will link to them for you.

    Jill

  10. Kate Sim:

    According to published reports, the victim suffered loss of consciousness, partial loss of hearing in one ear, blurred vision in one eye, was hospitalized (where she remains today) for trauma, and will not be permitted to return to her school by her parents. I agree that this is pretty serious.

  11. Jay:

    This isn’t Darwinism at all. Darwinism deals with evolution of the species by means of natural selection. This incident was not evolution it was de-evolution into barbarism wrought by immaturity and the need to make a statement. “Survival of the fittest” is not a biological concept associated with evolution, but more associated with Social Darwinism, which of course deals with rapacious capitalism, and Malthusian notions of human competition.

    Darwin used the term as a metaphor for natural selection. Biologists, like Darwin, use the term “natural selection” to mean that favorable traits will increase in successive generations of reproducing organisms. So Professor Darwin is off the hook here, although the moral bankruptcy you mention might be applied to unrestarined capitalism practiced by social Darwinists, but not Darwin himself who disagreed with its principles.

    My reference to intelligent design was more directed to the state of planning and execution by the perpetrators (allegedly) of the crime. If the schools are teaching intelligent design this crew must be flunking, regardless of the merits of the curriculum. We can debate ID another day, my comment was merely directed to the apparent stupidity of the deed and its memorialization.

    On the moral bankruptcy issue, I am sure you agree that the religious and the non-religious can both suffer from this affliction. But I would be interested to know how many of the perpetrators,and also if the victim (she also seems no stranger to conflict as she apparently has no trepidation concerning making inflammatory statements on her MySpace page)are regular church-goers. That would really get our usual debate off the ground! I bet most (and their families) are, what say you?

  12. I just can’t believe what happened. I mean, I’m sixteen and just thinking that these could be my friends, doing the same thing to me. How badly was the victim injured? I heard it was pretty serious but I don’t know the exact damage. I sincerely do hope that Victoria gets better and that these horrible people receive just punishment.

  13. Jay,

    I apologize for not being your favorite partner in good-natured argument, Mespo. But until he appears, I will do my poor-man’s best!

    We have seen societies in the past that were solicitous of the precepts of the Designer. And they took people, sealed them in barrels coated with tar and rolled said barrels, lit afire. down hills! They also practiced squasation, dunking, and of course live immolations! Not so different from our current era I suppose.

    No, religion is no guarantee of humane behavior, though ideally it prods one toward it in the abstract.

  14. “How’s that education system in Florida? Think they’re still teaching intelligent design? This group is exhibit A against the curriculum.”

    My Dearest Mespo,

    It might be funny if I didn’t think you were half serious. Really, how IS that education system in Florida? If anything, this incident is a pure, unadulterated, Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest, morally relative (and morally bankrupt) result of secular public education (undoubtedly with some poor parenting by similarly educated parents).

    It’s really too bad that these young ladies haven’t been taught to respect people, all people, even people we don’t like or people with whom we don’t always agree because we are all created in the image of God. Evidently, these young ladies feel the need to find self-confidence by tearing down others, rather than understand that true confidence comes from a place of moral courage and inner beauty found in a life of purpose and meaning.

    Ideas have consequences, and these ladies are but one example of a society that more and more rejects, to our own peril, the precepts of the Designer.

  15. Hi Jill,

    I didn’t actually look at the video. I have never, since coming to this site, looked at any of the videos that show cruel behavior. I imagine them pretty unbearable. 🙁

    Softie DW

    Your point is well made. There is a mix of good and bad, kindness and cruelty and the ratio favors the good side most times. With the 911 attacks on our country, we saw a flowering of over-responses and a kind of brutalization of the temper of the country as a whole. Normally it would have run its course.

    I think of our country’s response to 911 as being amazingly similar to the body’s response to infection by a pathogen. Once the immune system gets going, there is an overproduction of tcells etc. that can lead to inflammation and fever and it is the body’s immune response that leads to the feeling of being “sick”. Essentially we over-react every time to infections.

    And so America responded to 911, which was a system shock, with an enormous over-response on the part of our own immune system comprised of the police, military and intelligence agencies of the country. The only problem was that instead of a normal subsidence, we have embarked on a course of permanently being under siege of our own immune system even when the pathogens have been largely neutralized.

    Too bad for our laws, our civil rights, our tempered approach to challenges, and our society of trust and privacy.

  16. Hi D.W,

    I had to get up my nerve to read this post and when I did I just felt like crying. It takes a whole lot of work to get young people to act that cruelly. They didn’t get there on their own.

    I just had to focus on all the young people I know who would never do such a thing; who are funny, kind and compassionate. Those kids (and adults like them) are just as real as the others. So that’s my strategy. However, I’m coming back on a different planet!

    Jill

  17. My next lifetime, I am coming back as a fir tree on some remote Nevada mountain side. Enough human lifetimes for me, this species is becoming deranged!

    And getting worse!

  18. I truly like our modern day criminal (allegedly, of course). Not content to follow the quaint tradition of hiding the crime, they record the event to make their guilt easily provable. How’s that education system in Florida? Think they’re still teaching intelligent design? This group is exhibit A against the curriculum.

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