A teenage girl who was subjected to a year-long campaign of anonymous online bullying discovered that the anonymous troll behind the hateful messages was her own mother.
Kendra Gail Licari, from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, was charged earlier this week following a year-long investigation in which FBI experts were called in to help track down the culprit.
Although Licari had used a VPN (virtual private network) in a bid to disguise where the messages were coming from , and peppered her posts with slang that made it seem as if they’d been written by a teenager, detectives were eventually able to tie the messages to Licari.
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After the victim went to her mother for help, Licari allegedly reported the bullying to authorities.
Licari had even gone as far as teaming up with the mother of her daughter’s then-boyfriend to “help” find the cyberbully who had been sending up to a dozen messages a day.
At first, school authorities were unable to help and local law enforcement didn’t have the resources to track down the culprit.
Isabella County prosecutor David Barberi told local radio station WKRC: “When the case first came into our office, it was bizarre and almost hard to believe”.
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He added that it was a sustained campaign of abuse: “We’re talking about several hundreds of text messages, over 1,000 pages of discovery in the case”.
Barberi said that the messages were: “mostly just harassing-type text messages, demeaning, demoralising, and just mean texts”.
But after computer experts from the FBI positively identified the messages as having come from Licari’s phone, she broke down under questioning and admitted the campaign of bullying against the boy and her daughter.
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Beal City school superintendent William Chilman said that Licari had been a basketball coach at her daughter’s school at the time of the offences. She has not been asked to return “due to a coaching change”.
Licari was arraigned on Monday December 12 and has been released on a $5,000 bond.
Using a computer to commit a crime is a felony in the US, carrying a potential 10-year jail sentence. Licari has also been charged with stalking a minor and obstruction of justice – both of which could carry a further five years behind bars.
Licari is scheduled appear in court on December 29, when prosecutors will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to take the case to trial.
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