Two Teenage Girls Arrested For Fake Facebook Page

There is an interesting case in Granbury, Texas where two middle school students created a fake Facebook page for a 12-year-old classmate. That would normally result in a serious sit down with school officials and parents for the students, aged 12 and 13. In this case, however, the two were arrested for online impersonation, a third-degree felony. The case raises another example of how we have criminalized so much of our society. The over-criminalization of our society has taken misconduct that was once a matter of private or school discipline and converted it into felonies.

The Facebook page was active for a month and had 63 friends. Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds is quoted as saying that “They put cuss words and made threats toward other students and basically cultivated a bad reputation for the victim.” It is not clear to me why that is a criminal act. The girls spent nine days in the juvenile detention facility.

One of the mothers of the victims called police. Police monitored the site for a couple of weeks before arresting the girls. I have written about the need to crackdown on bullying in schools. However, the worst cases would seem ripe for civil rather than criminal relief. This is one such such where a lawsuit would seem more than adequate to deter this type of misconduct.

What do you think?

Source: Star Telegram

33 thoughts on “Two Teenage Girls Arrested For Fake Facebook Page”

  1. There is an outside chance that these gals could grow up to join with others of their ilk, then form an American edition of the Russian Band “Pussy Riot” (not sure how to say that in English) who are being tried for dissing Putin:

  2. nick spinelli 1, July 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Well Mr. Turley, I completely agree. But your profession is complicit in this pathology. The zero tolerance laws/rules in schools are Orwellian and they eliminate any common sense. But they do provide a faux “fairness.”

    The great John Wooden said it best. He would ask a group of people, “Can we agree we are all different?” The answer would be, of course, “yes.” Then he would ask, “Then how could it be that treating everyone the same be considered fair.”
    ==============================
    He is nuttin’ compared to my hero, Coach Bear Bryant.

    Once a linebacker was braggin’ on Da Bear about how fair Da Bear was.

    He said “Da Bear treats us very, very fair, he treats all of us like garbage”.

  3. Let’s not forget that there was more than one victim here. All the children whose names were trashed on the page by these two girls were also victimized.

  4. Backward US-UK witchunt Anglo-Fascists, next they’ll be dawn-raidin’ millions of proactive Adultophiles for predatory groomin’ Beiber online !

  5. Students frequently don’t realize the damage they do with their bullying. It’s unfortunate that the parents did get first chance to deal with their daughters, but it’s possible that the parents are so privileged that they don’t see the harm. Felony and detention seems a bit severe, but misdemeanor and community service. It’s hard to balance the harm done to the victim and the opportunity for the perpetrators to learn without excessive punishment.

    A middle school student was kicked out of school. His transgression deserved punishment, but not banishment. The vice-principal had previously stated that he was going to “get” him. Well, he did. I attended the procedure. In the hearing with the school administrator the v-p was extremely bellicose, expounding on everything this student had ever done but twisted each incident in the worst way possible to make it such that his statements were untrue. The student’s mother had hired an attorney but his value was nil. He spent his time before the hearing trading stories with the v-p and the school administrators. Their laughter made me want to vomit. There was no recourse. The student had to leave the community to stay in school. Fortunately, his father lived in another state so the family didn’t have to pay out-of-district fees which they couldn’t afford.

    What did the student learn from this – the punishment was out of line with the crime. His attitude about the school administration was so bad due to its unfairness that there was no way he could go back into that school system. Part of his family moved, that’s right, the family split up, so he could continue his education in the state. After he graduated, the family reunited. Fortunately, the school administration has changed so there are no repercussions for his younger siblings.

  6. Parents have abrogated their responsibilities of child discipline to the schools. Schools are fearful of being sued for handling disciplinary issues. So they think twice, or thrice, before deciding to do nothing, saying it’s a non-school issue, supporting the old Army adage, “An action transferred is an action completed.” Now these girls know that actions have consequences.

    If the only alternative is to call the cops, so be it.

  7. What Mike S. said. To put kids of this age in jail for any amount of time for a bullying event is overkill as Mike suggested. While we do have to take bullying seriously, it shouldn’t take two weeks of reading the facebook page to determine if this was bullying or something worse.

  8. I find it curious that Texans bleat so much about personal freedom and yet have so many examples of totalitarian overkill. Perhaps the freedom they mean is freedom for the wealthy.

  9. Mespo, Do you suggest I go w/ Tarkanian, or how about Paterno? There are no saints in college coaching but your hyperbolic take on Wooden makes me think you’re a USC grad.

  10. From the source used for this thread:

    ‘Texas has tough laws against online impersonation and harassment. After a series of nationally publicized bullying cases, state lawmakers in 2009 made it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
    The case should be a reminder to young people that impersonating someone online is not a joke, (Sheriff)Deeds said. Statistics suggest that most victims don’t report the crime.
    “It is definitely bullying, and this is still fairly new with Facebook and the social media that is out there,” (Sheriff)Deeds said. “It’s just like identity theft, but instead of trying to get a financial gain out of it you’re just flat trying to hurt someone socially.
    “It’s against the law.” ‘

    http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/07/20/4112680/2-hood-county-girls-arrested-over.html

    The article further states that the victim didn’t have a Facebook page so had no idea “why other students had started acting angry and making rude comments to” her. Her mother found the Facebook page but had no idea who had set it up so reported the matter to the police. The police investigated and uncovered the bullies.

    ‘When the girls were arrested, he (Sheriff Deeds) said, “I think they were very surprised and upset, and I know there were a lot of tears when we had them in the office.” ‘

    Over-criminalization? … not in my opinion when one considers the time and effort it took to build and maintain the page and the constant updating of “rude comments” about other children posted and then attributed to the victim. Nope, this was a concerted and dedicated effort to bring real harm to an innocent and definitely not a one-time prank.

  11. Maybe a lawsuit would have been better – but maybe the family of the victim couldn’t afford to bring a civil action.

  12. nick spinelli:

    “The great John Wooden ….”

    **************************

    I’d use another “hero” quote if I were you. “Aw shucks” John Wooden ran about the most corrupt program around and his idea of treating players differently involved allowing sleazy, Los Angeles money-launderer Sam Gilbert unfettered access to some star players to pay them, provide them with free cars, free apartments, and free clothes. He even procured abortions for some players’ girlfriends.

  13. The Draconian quality of this case is clear; after all, it is Texas. But another issue comes up: when we are dealing with Juvenile Court, we are allegedly making judgments with the children’s interests taken into consideration, although — also allegedly — the constitutional rights of the accused are to be equivalent to those of defendants in adult criminal proceedings. So there is always a quasi-criminal and quasi-civil feel to Juvenile Court proceedings. And they are secret proceedings. It occurs to me that this is the area in which “the life interest” — an interest utterly missing in American jurisprudence from the very beginnings, in Colonial days — should be played out most often.

    How could the victim of this fake face-book page prove her damages, if there were to be a civil proceeding?

    Who would be paying the legal fees for this complaining witness, if there were to be a civil proceeding?

    And since there is only a criminal proceeding in this case, with its concomitant prosecutorial discretion (receiving full protection under the 11th Amendment), how can errors of law or fact be dealt with fairly?

    Are there public defenders available to take appeals?

    What kinds of resources is the State devoting to these cases?

    I heard an argument in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland once about a middle school boy who was expelled from school. I don’t know the ramifications; how can he complete his grade school education? I don’t know. Can he go to high school? I don’t know. The crime involved was that he had written, in his own notebook, that he had not shown to anybody, some kind of a puerile rant concluding with the statement: “I wish I had a bomb.” Because of some kinds of weird powers of the Homeland Security Folks, his teacher was allowed to confiscate his notebook and get him thrown out of school. No details of how she came to think she should do that are provided; there was a certain hint of a “student informant” who saw the text and turned the kid in.

    The appellate decision was the result of the kid’s parents hiring counsel to sue the school and get the kid back IN. When I checked back on this case later I learned that the parents lost both the case and the appeals. I’m not saying this is similar because the boy’s conduct had no targeted victim, expressed only his personal wishes, and was not published, only written down with ink. Furthermore, the kid was not prosecuted, only kicked out of school. But that’s the point. You can take certain action against kids without the benefit of courts — which, if they want to oppose, they have to go to court to undo — that have enormous effects on their lives, and due process doesn’t get into the mix at all. I’m not sure which way (court or no court) it is worse; I’m also not sure whether criminal or civil proceedings have tendencies to be more ridiculous, especially when one of the parties to the proceedings is essentially powerless (which, absent the life interest, most kids are).

    This brings up a different question: Were the parents of the complaining witness perhaps influential in that town?

  14. Well Mr. Turley, I completely agree. But your profession is complicit in this pathology. The zero tolerance laws/rules in schools are Orwellian and they eliminate any common sense. But they do provide a faux “fairness.”

    The great John Wooden said it best. He would ask a group of people, “Can we agree we are all different?” The answer would be, of course, “yes.” Then he would ask, “Then how could it be that treating everyone the same be considered fair.”

  15. As you say….. So many acts that used to be dealt with by parents, schools or someone or something else are being made criminal acts….. I wonder why…. Could it be intelligence gathering for Law Enforcement?

    I am pleased that a number of big city’s are decriminalizing minor drug offenses….. Sometimes these minor offenses are used to enhance a defendant’s sentence…..ie a longer jail or prison stint…..

  16. Clearly therapy is better than criminalization. We have already won the gold medal for most citizens in jail.

    Telling 12 year olds that they are felons is over the top for this type of behavior.

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