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Questions Arise About Swatting Prank That Ended In Death

There was a swatting incident on December 30, 2017 in Wichita, Kansas.  I’ve been reporting on it on my other blog.  Some of you might already know that my other blog deals solely with cyber abuse, whether harassment, stalking, swatting, threats, spoofing, or combinations.

Today after reading some articles and comments on Twitter about the most recent swatting incident, I asked myself if there is anything I could have done to make information more available; to inform the public that spill-over of internet harassment into the personal lives of target victims is dangerous.  However, as with other issues, people don’t seem to take an interest unless major media reports it first or unless it happens to them.  Then too, I’m only a drop of water in a vast ocean.

Swatting is a prank where someone makes a call to a police department with a false story of a happening crime involving killing or hostages and guns.  Police arrive and at times, SWAT is dispatched.

In order to pull-off the prank, an address is needed and that is generally obtained by doxing targets.  Doxing is the seeking and gathering of personal information of others to use to harass, cause them fear and distress, post publicly on the internet, and yes — to swat or encourage others to do so.

On November 23, 2014, I blogged about a civil case filed in Northern Illinois that involved swatting.  The plaintiff in that case was awarded $50,000 by a jury.

On February 9. 2015, I blogged about a case where a Nevada man swatted a resident of Naperville, IL and was extradited to Illinois for prosecution.  The State’s Attorney stated that he would seek legislation to make swatting a felony.

On May 20, 2015, I recapped those two cases in another blog post about a couple arrested for harassment by eletronic media.

In August 2017, I wrote a post about a Bill introduced by Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA).  The Bill is H.R. 3067 and is titled the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017.  If passed, it will make swatting and doxing federal crimes.

Now that the father of a 2-year old and 7-year old is dead because of a swatting prank,, the Post Gazette, and the New York Times among other news sources, are reporting on the introduced Bill and asking the question, who is at blame for Andrew Finch’s death? Read the rest of this entry

Couple Charged With Sexual Assault Wins Internet Defamation Lawsuit

A Texas couple, Mark Lesher, 63, and his wife, Rhonda, 50, were accused by a woman of sexual assault. Mark Lesher is a prominent attorney, and Rhonda was running a successful day spa. The accusation included a man who works on the Lesher’s ranch.   Before they stood trial in January 2009, there was a steady stream of attacks on the Web forum   The comments accused the couple of murder, encouraging pedophilia, drug abuse and other crimes that materially attack their characters.

In January 2009, the couple and their ranch hand were found not guilty on all charges.

Three years ago, the couple filed a 365-page lawsuit naming 178 pseudonyms used to post what they considered the most defamatory messages. They posted the lawsuit on Topix and served the company a subpoena to obtain the IP addresses. A Texas judge ordered Topix to turn over the identifying information about the anonymous posters. The Internet Protocol (IP) addresses led to a couple that owned a business, and accused the Lesher’s of sexual assault in 2008.

In July 2009, the Leshers filed an amended petition in the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas naming Shannon Coyel, the couple’s accuser; her husband Gerald Covel and his brother, James Coyel. Also named as a defendant was Apache Truck & Van Parts of Kennedale, Texas and two of its employers, Charlie and Pat Doescher.


Mark and Rhonda Lesher stand on the steps of Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas, shortly after their acquittal of sexual assault charges Jan. 16, 2009.

On Friday, a jury awarded the Leshers a judgment of $13.78 million.

Mark and Rhonda Lesher stand on the steps of Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas, shortly after their acquittal of sexual assault charges Jan. 16, 2009. On Friday, the couple were awarded

The Gazette reported a malicious prosecution suit is pending that names as defendants the Coyels and Red River County District Attorney Val Varley, who unsuccessfully prosecuted the sexual assault case against the Leshers. That suit accuses them of conspiring to convict the Leshers of a crime they did not commit. The newspaper reports that a jury trial is scheduled for August.

Ryan Calo, who teaches privacy law at Stanford Law School and is joining the faculty at the University of Washington School of Law, said

“Defamation is one area of law in which a jury or court have to figure out how much damage has been done. It’s not a car accident where you can calculate medical bills and how much work was lost after an injury. There’s something more ephemeral in a reputation.”

There is a difference between free speech, which states an opinion, and accusations stated as fact that have no basis in fact and causes harm to the personal lives of others.

There’s more on this story and other internet defamation stories on ABC News.

Read the rest of this entry

Friday Fill-Up -Standing Strong Against Cyber-Extortionists

Black butterflyNothing would give me more pleasure than to share some personal things with you about myself. I’m restrained from doing so because of people who take anything I say, twist it, and then go on doxxing expeditions.   Be aware – any attempts of defamation that can only point to “evidence” written by the person or one of their minions.  Their evidence cannot be trusted.

Ask them how they know the name they purport is the person’s real name, and they won’t be able to point to any “evidence” other than what another one of them has written.

Well, I’m going into this because since one cyber-extortionist was unsuccessful in his copyright infringement claims, and unsuccessful in getting a court ordered restraining order against a person he harassed, numerous people are being attacked for associating together. Read the rest of this entry

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