Cyberbullying suspect appears in court for violating conditions of release, gets tougher conditions

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 14, 2012, at 2:21 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The 16-year-old former Orono High School student charged last month with felony terrorizing and harassment by electronic communication has violated the conditions of her release and now is subject to stricter conditions, a Penobscot County assistant district attorney confirmed Friday.

The charges stem from dozens of threatening, anonymous messages the teenager, formerly of Veazie, posted beginning in September on an Internet account of a former classmate she thought was flirting with her boyfriend, police said.

She violated the conditions of her release by contacting the former classmate on the social network Instagram, according to Assistant District Attorney Jim Aucoin.

The alleged cyberbully — a girl who used to go to Orono High with the victim but now attends a high school in southern Maine — was arrested and charged with the offenses on Nov. 1 by Veazie police Sgt. Keith Emery.

“I’ve handled harassment calls for 24 years and have never seen threats as violent, disgusting and vulgar as these,” Emery said last month of the anonymous posts, which began appearing on the victim’s Tumblr blog account in late September.

“They started out telling the girl she was ugly, a whore, slut, et cetera. As the messages continued through October, they got threatening,” the sergeant said. “Just very vulgar and horrific threats. There were dozens of these types of messages.”

Emery said last month that the suspect, whose name was withheld because of her age, confessed after she was interviewed at the Veazie police station in October. The terrorizing charge was elevated to felony status because the threats prompted the victim and her family to evacuate their home on several occasions, he said.

The suspect was released to her mother with specific conditions through the Maine Department of Probation’s juvenile division. Among other things, she was to have no contact with the victim, attend school and obey the rules of her home, he said. She was allowed to use the Internet only for school purposes and must be supervised while doing so.

Aucoin said Friday that the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant last week after the suspect violated the terms of her release by making contact with the victim on Instagram.

Instagram is a program and social network that allows users to share photos with other Instagram users as well as on a variety of other social networking services, including Twitter and Facebook. The program can be used on personal computers as well on smartphones.

The suspect turned herself in and appeared before a judge earlier this week at the Penobscot Judicial Center. Aucoin said that the suspect’s stricter release conditions include a requirement that she undergo evaluation.

Although the Bangor Daily News usually does not identify crime victims, Orono High School sophomore Alexis Henkel, 15, her parents, Norbert and Judy Henkel, and her twin brother, Austin, last month agreed to speak publicly about what they’ve experienced in the hope of educating others about the impact that cyberbullying has on those who become targets.

On Friday, Judy Henkel said the Instagram violation was one of about a dozen she reported to juvenile authorities. She said she has been told that the suspect also has been ordered to participate in counseling “rather than just sit there” and that she now is only allowed to leave home to go to school or to work.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/14/news/bangor/cyberbullying-suspect-appears-in-court-for-violating-conditions-of-release-gets-tougher-conditions/ printed on September 18, 2014