Chicago police recently arrested a 14-year old boy for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. What makes this story different—aside from the young ages of both the victim and the perpetrator—is that the boy apparently streamed the assault live on Facebook. In addition to the fourteen-year old male offender, who has already been arrested, there are reportedly at least another five males involved in the attack. While the assault was being live-streamed, some forty people watched the assault in progress, yet failed to report it to police.
The boy who was arrested will face multiple felony charges, including dissemination of child pornography, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and manufacturing of child pornography. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stated that the young men responsible for the assault should be “ashamed of themselves, they humiliated themselves, they humiliated their families.” At least one arrest warrant has been issued for a 15-year old boy, and when the other perpetrators are identified, more warrants are expected.
The attack occurred in mid-March, yet the police were unaware of the assault until the 20th of March when the girl’s mother showed Johnson the video as he left the police station. After the girl’s mother reported the incident, detectives located the girl and transported her to the hospital. From early reports it appears the girl knew at least one of the offenders who lured her into a home on Chicago’s west side. At that point the boys did not allow her to leave, sexually assaulting her, taping the assault, and posting the assault on Facebook. The police investigation has been complicated further by the fact that the victim has been bullied on social media, and is extremely traumatized by the attack and the bullying.
Facebook Messages Being Allowed Into Mississippi Courts
In the state of Mississippi, Facebook messages are being allowed into court, so long as a witness can authenticate the messages through testimony alone. As an example, in the Mississippi capital murder case of Smith v. State, Facebook messages which were exchanged between the defendant and the victim’s mother were allowed in as evidence in the case. Particularly in cases in which the Facebook messages (or, in the case of the young girl’s assault, the video), can be corroborated by others, then that information can be presented to a jury as evidence. Mississippi courts have essentially said that when the evidence on a Facebook page is reliable, then it is admissible.
Mississippi Attorney General Warns About Posting Photos of Minors and Cyberbullying
The state of Mississippi dealt with a similar issue a few years back, when sexually explicit photos of minors were being posted on Facebook and Instagram, and bullying and harassing behaviors were occurring as a result. At that time, the Mississippi Attorney General warned that participation in these activities could be illegal, and that a person engaging in posting such photos of minors or using threatening language on Facebook or Instagram could be charged with child exploitation, sexting, cyber-bullying, and/or distribution/possession of child pornography. Hacking into another person’s social media account, setting up a profile, pretending to be someone else, posting embarrassing photos of another without that person’s consent, or even writing harmful lies or information about another person on a social media website are all examples of cyber-bullying behaviors.
It remains to be seen what punishments those who sexually assaulted the young girl will face, and whether the charges will include charges associated with the video posted on Facebook. As the police continue to sort out the sequence of events, we may once again see how social media can impact a criminal case.
Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, you need to fight for your rights and protect your freedom. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced Jackson criminal defense attorney immediately.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for our clients and we can build a defense that is designed to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.