Twitter Pic Prompts Tulsa Public Schools Lawsuit

The mother of a Tulsa Public Schools student has filed a lawsuit against the school district, Twitter, and several students and their parents after a picture of her 16-year-old daughter in her underwear was posted to the social networking site following a bullying incident. DeAnn Cooks is seeking $75,000 in damages in a suit filed in Tulsa County District Court.  Cooks claims that her daughter was restrained by her teammates and photographed in her underwear in a locker room following a basketball game in November.  The students then posted the picture to Twitter.  Cooks says that in addition to the initial assault, her daughter has been the subject of further bullying after the picture was posted to the social networking site. In the suit, Cooks alleges that the school district was negligent in protecting her student from the initial attack by not providing adequate supervision in the locker room following the game, and that they were further negligent in failing to protect her daughter from harassment following the picture's Twitter release. Cooks reported the incident to the Sand Springs Police Department on the day of its occurrence.  Sand Springs Deputy Police Chief Mike Carter says that investigators attempted to follow up with Cooks but were unable to reach her.  He says the case is pending and may result in a misdemeanor charge of assault or disturbing the peace. However, such an incident could lead to charges beyond assault, as it could be construed as a violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act or the state's sexting laws: §21-1958 -No person shall communicate with, store data in, or retrieve data from a computer system or computer network for the purpose of using such access to violate any of the provisions of the Oklahoma Statutes. Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not more than five (5) years, or by a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such imprisonment and fine.

Because the picture was of the student in her underwear, and because the student was under the age of 18, the image could be considered child pornography, which may make it possible to prosecute the case as an internet sex crime.  Because the students published the picture on a social network--or used a computer to perpetrate the assault or harassment--the action could be considered a violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.

Advances in technology have made it difficult for state lawmakers to develop legislation that keeps up with the electronic media available.  Because of this, some people may be subject to serious criminal charges and prosecution for otherwise minor offenses.  If you have been accused of sexting or other internet sex crime, click here to find a sex crimes defense lawyer in Oklahoma.

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