New Cyberbulllying Suit says Internet harassment put teenage girl into psychiatric care October 8, 2008Posted by cyberpatrol in cyberbullying.
Tags: cyberbullying, megan meier
Clayton — The father of a teenage girl says in a lawsuit that a cyber bully so unnerved her with online taunts that she ended up admitted to a mental health clinic.
The 16-year-old girl is not named in the suit, in St. Louis County Circuit Court in Clayton. Her father’s lawyer, Joe Jacobson, said the identity of the defendant is not known with certainty.
The suit seeks reimbursement for medical expenses in excess of $25,000 and asks that a judge order the Internet social network Facebook and Web portal Live.com to provide information about who sent the messages.
The circumstances are reminiscent of the case of Megan Meier, 13, of Dardenne Prairie, who hanged herself in 2006 after a fictitious boyfriend turned against her in MySpace correspondence.
Lori Drew, the mother of a former friend of Megan’s, is expected to be tried in November in regard to that incident on federal charges of conspiracy and accessing MySpace computers without authorization.
Megan’s death prompted Missouri to create a new crime of Internet harassment, a felony for people over 21 and a misdemeanor for those younger.
The girl in the case Jacobson filed had already undergone outpatient treatment for 22 days in June and July for a psychiatric condition characterized, in part, by an obsessive relationship with a teenage boy, the suit said.
Someone using the fictitious name “Jennifer Litzinger” then created the Facebook account “for the purpose of creating a purported rival” for the boy’s affections, the suit alleges.
Asked about the identity of “Litzinger,” Jacobson said: “There are suspicions. We want good evidence that points firmly at somebody before we proceed.”
The lawsuit says “Litzinger” used a photo “of a well-endowed and attractive model or actress of the approximate age of 20 to 22 obtained over the Internet as her profile photograph so that (the victim), an ordinary attractive 16-year-old, would feel inferior to her purported rival with respect to her physical attractiveness.”
The suit also says that on the day before the teen was to finish outpatient treatment in July, she got multiple communications from “Litzinger.” Those said “Litzinger” had been talking and texting with the boyfriend every day and night, was more attractive than the teen, and that the teen “looked like a troll” and had “a worthless life.”
According to the suit, “Litzinger” knew the teen “would be severely emotionally distressed by the statements.”
The teen was taken to St. John’s Mercy Medical Center for a four-day admission to stabilize her condition, the suit says, and then she entered the Menninger Residential Clinic in Houston, where she remained until Sept. 16.
Her father, who lives in west St. Louis County, declined through his lawyer to comment to a reporter. The suit was filed Sept. 19.
The girl “is doing much better since Texas, but she is still very, very fragile,” Jacobson said.