Girl, 12, pleads not guilty in cyberbullying case
May 17, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
On the same day Issaquah Middle School students received a lesson in online security, a 12-year-old Issaquah girl pleaded not guilty to cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing charges.
Prosecutors said she and a friend posted lewd messages and photographs on a classmate’s Facebook page. The incident generated national attention and raised questions about bullying in the social media age.
The other girl charged in the case is 11. Because of her age, she is scheduled for a hearing May 24 to determine whether she understands the impact of the case. State law presumes children ages 8 to 11 lack the capacity to commit a crime.
The case-setting hearing for the 12-year-old girl is June 1.
Investigators said the girls accessed a classmate’s Facebook page, scrawled the phrase “I’m a slut” across a photo of the fellow sixth-grader and used the site’s instant messaging service to proposition boys for sexual acts.
The girl targeted in the case, Leslie Cote, is 12. The defendants and Leslie attend Issaquah Middle School together. Leslie sat in the courtroom during the arraignment May 10.
Under state law, the defendants face up to 30 days in juvenile detention, but community service is a more likely sentence.
The Issaquah Press usually does not name defendants age 12 or younger.
Issaquah Middle School students gathered May 10 for a seminar about online security hosted by Stefanie Thomas, a Seattle Police Department specialist in Internet crimes against children.
The event had been scheduled before the King County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against the girls last month. The school closed the event to television news crews.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.
Beaver Lake Middle School hosts online safety workshop
Parents can learn how to keep children safe on the Internet at a workshop hosted by the Issaquah School District and Beaver Lake Middle School PTSA.
The free workshop is from 7-9 p.m. May 24 in the commons area at the school, 25025 S.E. 32nd St.
Stefanie Thomas, a Seattle Police Department victim advocate and expert on online crime, is due to address attendees about social networking, sexually charged text messaging known as sexting, cyberbullying, gaming and virtual worlds.
The workshop follows a similar workshop for students at Issaquah Middle School. Prosecutors said a pair of sixth-graders at the school used a classmate’s Facebook account to post lewd photos and messages in March.
Participants at the Beaver Lake workshop can learn characteristics of bullies and victims, signs of addictive behavior, and methods for prevention and detection. The workshop also offers safety tips and information about parental controls.
Call Sarah Jakle, Beaver Lake PTSA parent education representative, at 391-6470 to learn more.