In January My Bossier ran a blog post Cyber Bullying on the Rise by local attorney Samantha McAllister. The article was focused on protecting children, but Ms. McAllister made a good point by saying “Sadly, even adults are using the Internet to harass, stalk, bully and threaten. Hiding under the anonymity of the Internet, it is easy for these predators to attack you or your children.”
This week we saw the arrest of a local pastor who admitted to sending a number of sexually oriented emails to a woman who had visited the church where he had served as pastor since 2000. This is a well educated, professional person who is a graduate of Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and has a Doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation at Notre Dame University. Anyone else who faced this misdemeanor charge might be able to survive it without total disgrace, but not in this case. It is a tragic thing for his family and I admit I just can’t understand it. It's a curious crime.
A couple of weeks ago a Minden man was arrested and charged with cyber-stalking and obscenity. He had sent suggestive text messages and nude pictures of himself to a woman. After he was charged, another woman said he had done the same to her, so additional charges were added.
In February a local disc jockey was arrested for improper internet activities involving juveniles. The two fifteen year old girls he was planning to meet turned out to be Caddo Parish Sheriff’s detectives.
The Caddo Sheriff began the investigation after they received a complaint from the parents of a juvenile girl who had talked with the DJ on MySpace. He asked for nude or semi-nude photos in exchange for concert tickets, and promised back stage passes if they would meet him in person.
Last year a Shreveport man was arrested for sending a threatening email to a former teacher. He was charged in April in Bossier Parish; on July 1st of 2008 attorney Edward Mouton enrolled as his counsel and asked for a bond of $15,000. The bond was set at $10,000 and he bonded out.
The last entry on the Bossier Clerk’s website was the letter from attorney Mouton on July 1st enrolling as his counsel. Nothing else has been entered. We will attempt to find out what happened with this case.
What is it that makes people go online and harass people, whether it is a former teacher, a casual acquaintance or someone on a social networking site like the two fifteen year old girls?
There are many more cases that go unreported, and in some cases they have ended in death and violence.
Attorney McAllister outlined several steps that can be taken to protect yourself from these cyber offenders, and made the important point that “No matter what action you choose to take, remember, cyber bullying is a serious issue and you can stop a cyber bully before it is too late!”