back to article Woman charged with cyberbullying teen on Craigslist

A Missouri woman has become the first person to be charged with felony cyberbullying in that state after she allegedly posted photos and personal information of a teenage girl to the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist. Prosecutors said Elizabeth A. Thrasher, 40, posted the 17-year-old's picture, cell phone number, email …

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RW
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"a practical joke"

That usually means "especially reprehensible and inexcusable."

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Why new laws?

Why do legislators always feel the need to create new laws specifically to deal with cybercrime? What if this woman had placed adverts in the local paper or put fliers on lamposts instead? Isn't that sort of unacceptable behaviour already covered by laws on fraud/harassment/defamation or some other existing crime? What does the fact that a computer was involved have to do with it?

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A few pertinent details...

The girl's mother is the girlfriend of Thrasher's ex-husband. Thrasher was the one who filed for divorce, 2 1/2 years ago. While the details of the argument between her and the girl's mother is not publicly known, the above facts do suggest that Thrasher may be more than a wee bit unstable.

According to the Saint Louis Post Dispatch, the girl's message to Thrasher was "grow up."

Based on Thrasher's response, it was a piece of advice she really needed - though possibly not from that source.

As an item of curiosity, both Thrasher and Lori Drew hail from St. Charles County.

-d

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I still don't get it

Why do we need special laws against cyber-bullying?

I'm sure if I put an ad with somebody else's name and coordinates

in the sex column of a printed journal, I can also get prosecuted.

Not that I care about what happen to people who harass others...

on the web or otherwise.

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Appropriate punishment...

I think that an appropriate punishment would be that the same information that was posted to Craig's list for the 17 year old be posted about the 40 year old woman. She should not be allowed to change her phone number or employer for 4 years, must answer every call made by respondents, and listen to them for at least 5 minutes each call. Failure to do this would result in reinstatement of the original prison sentence (assuming she is found guilty). Call it alternative sentencing...the prisons are too crowded right now. She should be all for it since she thought it would be a good joke.

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WTF?

A Felony? That's overkill.

What's the saying.... ahh, yes.... "F_ck you if you can't take a joke!"

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@Rolf Howarth

The reason these laws are enacted in relation to the Internet and computers is because they make the process of committing such acts much easier, and because their use is now so widespread. Consider the effort involved in getting ads and posters printed up, published, distributed, and posted in public places, compared to the ease of simply typing up and dumping an ad on CL. That's why you don't see posters and ads bullying kids like this plastered all over your town, while cyberbullying is quite widespread.

While I'm adamantly opposed to the burgeoning police state, censorship, and oppressive laws increasing state surveillance and control, I've also seen first-hand the effects of cyberbullying on kids and this particular law is definitely a step in the right direction.

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Alert

Nip it in the bud

I'm all for these being felony cases. 40 year old women that can't leave teenage minors well enough alone ought to be put into prison. If she hasn't learned how to act by age 40, a STRONG message needs to be presented to her.

Think of it another way, people who would do this kind of thing don't just wake up one day from being social butterflies, they tend to have a long history of treating others like dirt, this is learned behavior that starts early and keeps up until someone puts a stop to it. Pity all those she came across before being caught this time.

This is what prisons are for, people who feel they have to elevate an attack on others for mere exchange of negatively slanted words. "Grow up" was right on target. Some people just don't like the truth and will fight until the end. Prison can be that end.

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@Steve Roper

Unfortunately, you have failed to explain why existing laws cannot be used in cases of so-called "cyberbullying"

The fact that computers make the crime of bullying (assuming there is such a crime) easier is hardly relevant.

Guns make murder easier but we don't have laws for "gun murder" do we?

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Coat

Re: Appropriate punishment...

You are Solomon and I claim my five pounds.

With a name like "Thrasher" some of those phone calls she'd get would probably be quite interesting.....

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Re: I still don't get it

Because in the previous case of a girl committing suicide due to cyberbullying the existing laws were not sufficient.

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A 40yo woman picking on a 17yo girl?

Thrasher was wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to start.

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Happy

rage against the dying of the light

What a privileged life you must have, JC 2! I agree that, at forty, Ms Thrasher ought to have learned how to behave, but unfortunately she hasn't. Some people don't get the opportunity. It's far more likely that she suffered as part of her learning.

So, more pity for Ms Thrasher. She might be obnoxious, but there are certainly other culpable parties who have remained free from indictment.

I hope against hope she finds someone she respects who teaches her better ways of dealing with her problems.

Chyurr, you just can't get the role models these days. Too many inflated egos. Too much bullshit in the media creating a cult of personality. Bring back Jesus!

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Cybercrime different

The audience reached via Ithe Internet (and therefore, the injury/damage to the victim) is likely to be much bigger than that reached through fliers or newspaper ads. Newspaper ads tend to be screened for unsuitable content, as the newspaper carries responsibility for what they publish.

The punishment should reflect the damage done. Trying to fuck up the social and working life of a 17 year old should probably carry a short prison sentence.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong law

It's not cyberbullying, it's some sort of misrepresentation, or impersonation offence. She did not bully she pretended to be the girl uploaded pictures of herself pretending to be her asking for sex.

And the girl can always change her phone number, so the damage she has from receiving these messages isn't greater than the inconvenience of changing her number.

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A practical joke

She should be locked up for 2 years.

I can see the fun in that.

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@Why new laws?

It seems odd that those creating new laws don't know of existing laws.

It seems odd that those prosecuting offences don't use existing laws to do it - instead they complain that the law isn't strong enough.

How standards have fallen.

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Grenade

Cyberbullying?

No need. In this case, we have good old laws against sexual harassment, especially sexual harassment of minors, and nice hefty prison terms to go with it.

I've no sympathy for Thrasher. Maybe she was abused herself, maybe she's got relationship problems, maybe she's just naturally a bitch. I don't care. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

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Grenade

Practical joke...?

Four years in jail...

... laugh that one off!

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@new laws

Why do people who are not lawyers always post whining there are existing laws covering these things, and then display their own ignorance by saying things like "Isn't that sort of unacceptable behaviour already covered by laws on fraud/harassment/defamation or some other existing crime?"

Which is basically the same as saying "I have no idea if a law exists to cover this, I don't even know how to describe the general area of law which might cover it, but I feel sure there must already be something, so i'm going to disregard lawyers and prosecutors, who do work within the law day in and day out saying there isn't, when it stands to (my own internal) reason that there is"

For fuck's sake.

Post which law covers it if you know, otherwise shut up.

If you don't know what you're talking about, don't talk. You embarass yourself.

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No appropriate laws

The problem here is that there ARE no existing laws. They tried everything to convict Lori Drew and all they came up with was a a shockingly lame "breaking the terms of service of Facebook" pseudo-offense.

If there had been existing laws that could have been applied, Drew would already be turning big rocks into little rocks.

I just noticed: Chris W already said the same thing, but it seems some people didn't notice that.

"What's the saying.... ahh, yes.... "F_ck you if you can't take a joke!" - says the anonymous man. Irony much?

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Grenade

Old Laws / New Laws

doesn't matter for the sake of understandig that behaviour as what it is, a crime.

Identity camouflage respectively identity theft.

Up to jail with her. Enough discussed.

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Good , bit harsh though

Good ,

A 40 year old doing something as irresponsible as that to a 17yr old girl?

I'm glad, maybe this will teach her deluded mind that such behaviour isn't acceptable.

Mind you 4 years is a bit much , maybe it should be a fine and up to a month in the clink?

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Well...

Thrasher's obviously an evil, vindictive thwarted cow with a vicious streak a mile wide. I'm rather glad there's an offence she can be charged with. The Lori Drew acquittal was predictable *in the absence of adequate legislation at the time against her hideous behaviour* ("There must be laws against this already...blahblahblah" - errr, no. Or they'd have used them.), but saddening. Looks as though someone's taken the lesson to heart.

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Anonymous Coward

@Goat Jam

In the U.S., we have laws that target guns when used in the commision of a crime, even though there was an original statute for said crime. Theft and theft with a weapon (not necessarily a gun for this case) are seen differently and with reason. We even have laws to make certain bullets illegal to use/own (most of which make some sense, but a few really don't). Using the gun in a crime usually adds some extra prison time.

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You missed the point, Wrong Law

@ Wrong Law: "And the girl can always change her phone number, so the damage she has from receiving these messages isn't greater than the inconvenience of changing her number."

According to the article, the Thrasher broad "posted the 17-year-old's picture, cell phone number, email address, and employer".

So she should change her phone number ... AND her email address ... AND her place of employment ... AND her appearance?

Stalkers follow her around, show up at her workplace, know what she looks like, can easily find out where she lives ... and this is not any great inconvenience? What about when she gets fired because of all the nut jobs calling her employer? Not to mention that at age 17 the girl is still legally a minor (in the States you can't enter into a legally binding contract until the age of 18)

WTF??!!!!!!

You, Sir, are a complete tw*t.

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Bah!

Had a freind in the UK whose daughter was subjected to this sort of mayhem by a gang of her so-called peers, and the worst offender was one of the gang members' mother.

The woman in this case solicited sex from a minor, albeit by proxy. There are all sorts of nasty punishments that could be dealt out for that, one that never goes away.

The woman should shut up and plead out for a light sentence. What she's been threatened with is nothing compared to what's waiting in the wings.

RW has the right of it.

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Anonymous Coward

New laws

As long as the new laws don't erode civil liberties etc etc etc (and in this argument I am assuming they don't as the argument is about new laws covering old laws) then what is the problem with creating new laws?

Lawyers make their money in part by arguing that a particular law does not apply or cover the current case.

why would life be worse if there was a separate offenses of "murder by gun" or "murder by knife" or "murder by assorted household implement"? As long as the generic "murder" offense remained on statute nothing would be lost.

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Wrong Law

If it's really true there was no existing law to cover these sort of actions (and I don't believe it for a minute) than than a cyber-specific law is STILL the wrong solution. The internet makes anonymous bullying easier, but it is by no means a requirement.

If someone were to pull of an equally successful harassment campaign offline, apparently we are to believe nothing could be done. Why don't they address THAT problem if this is really the case?

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Why more new laws

Erm, mostly because it's a legal system and NOT a judicial system. Were it the latter instead of the former, she should have already found herself in the stocks and whipped with cat-o-9; salted well; and sent home to think about her behaviour. I personally think she's lucky it's only the state extracting it's toll from her; had that been my sprog she would already have paid a far worse price.

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Anonymous Coward

@@Wrong law

"According to the article, the Thrasher broad "posted the 17-year-old's picture, cell phone number, email address, and employer". So she should change her phone number ... AND her email address ... AND her place of employment ... AND her appearance?"

"Stalkers follow her around, show up at her workplace, "

But that didn't happen and no reason why it would. You simply are extrapolating that it would happen based on your own exaggerated fears.

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Practical Joke Misnomer

Definition of a practical joke. Impractical, not funny.

Next time some one perpetrates a 'practical joke' on me I shall smash them in the face with an iron bar and say 'Well it made me laugh. What's wrong can't you take a joke?'

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