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20-Year-Old Sentenced to 45 Days for Cyberbullying

This week, 20 year-old Matthew Riskin Bean was sentenced to 45 days for cyberbullying, following his involvement with a group of anonymous Web users who tried to induce a teen to commit suicide.

The victim in this case posted nude pictures of himself on the Internet when he was 12 or 13. This wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but then again, 12- and 13 year-olds aren’t always known for being especially savvy.

A few years later, Bean discovered comments about the photo on an online imageboard, and he e-mailed the images to the teenager’s school, claiming to be a “concerned mother“ of another boy at the school, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody described Bean’s crime as “extremely malicious” and said, “You have to be blind to what's going on in this world not to know the effect of cyberbullying on present-day society."

As the ABA Journal notes, Bean could have been sentenced to five years in prison if had been charged with distributing child pornography.

Instead, he got off easy with only a 45-day sentence and five years of probation.

Even so, a few minutes of bad decisions could haunt Bean for the rest of his life. I wonder what potential employers will think of him when he has to disclose on job applications that he has been convicted of a crime.

Side note: A defense attorney apparently requested an alternative placement for Bean on the grounds that his client’s young age and his small size -- he stands 5-feet-4-inches tall and weighs 110 pounds -- would make Bean a target for abuse. What goes around comes around …

Guest blogger Ruth Carter is a law student in her final semester at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Posted by Laurel Newby on January 20, 2011 at 05:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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