Apr 26, 2011 at 10:38 PM PDT
Apr 26, 2011 at 10:42 PM PDT
ISSAQUAH, Wash. – A 12-year-old girl who was the victim of relentless cyberbullying on her Facebook page is speaking out about how the actions of two former friends turned her life upside down.
Investigators say the former friends, two sixth-grade girls from Issaquah, now face criminal charges after cyberbullying a fellow classmate through Facebook.
The three girls in the case were all friends at one time at Issaquah Middle School.
But police say an argument that began between them at school ended up splattered all over Facebook – and landed two of the girls in court.
The victim, Leslie Cote, says, “I was hurt and sad and very angry.”
Like any other 12-year-old girl, Leslie considers herself normal. She likes cheerleading, runs track and enjoys painting.
But the colors that surround her world turned dark when she found vulgar images displayed across her Facebook page last month.
“I just couldn’t control it and then I didn’t get any sleep,” Leslie says. “I kept crying the whole time, and it’s just all bunched up.”
Police says Leslie became the victim of cyberbullying after she accidentally saved her password on a friend’s computer. And after a fight, the 11- and 12-year-old former friends took over her account, detectives say.
“Technically this was a crime from the get-go, and as a result, a child’s feeling is hurt,” says Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum.
Leslie says, “Some people looked at me differently, and then judged me differently now because of what happened.”
Investigators say the two girls posted raunchy images on Leslie’s Facebook page, and also sent messages to other users talking about private parts and inviting them to have sex.
The girls allegedly edited pictures of the victim to depict a knife pointing to her head, drew devil’s horns and added word bubbles reading “I’m a slut.”
When Leslie told her mother and her mother’s fiance, they were floored.
“Extreme anger and honestly disbelief,” says the mom’s fiance, Jon Knight. “Parents do need to be aware of what’s going on, especially with the Internet.”
Cmdr. Behrbaum says, “Bullying is still bullying whether it’s face to face or using a computer, a telephone, text messages – it’s still bullying.”
Meanwhile, Leslie’s family has started a new community Facebook page for her called, “For Leslie.” It’s all part of an effort to raise awareness and put an end to cyberbullying.
If convicted as charged, the 12-year old girl could get up to 30 days in juvenile detention.
As for the 11-year-old girl, a court will determine if she understands that her actions were wrong before making a decision.