State Police Investigate Beaver County Facebook Page
BEAVER (KDKA) — It’s the web page that has local Facebook followers buzzing with controversy. Dozens of teenage girls subjected to crude language and pictures.
State police are now investigating and lawsuits could follow.
“As soon as I woke up, it was all over. People were putting links to it. It came up like really fast,” Randi Zarilla told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
Zarilla is a recent graduate from Rochester High School and knows many of the people whose pictures are posted and those who are commenting.
“Most of those people are from Rochester,” said Zarilla. “I don’t understand why someone would want to put their hometown out like that.”
Now, the State Police and the Beaver County Detective Bureau are investigating, citing possible charges of cyber-bullying and harassment.
Nobody knows for sure who is doing this but Zarilla has her suspicions that it’s some guys trying to get back at young women who may have rejected them.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that it was a bunch of guys,” she said. “There was comments on there that it was five people, five guys that are making it, they’re getting messages from different guys, saying why these girls are hoes, what they have done. Some of them are extremely outrageous.”
For a short time, Zarilla’s own picture was posted briefly until her husband stepped in.
“I flipped out,” said Devaughn Williams. “I knew who did it so I immediately contacted them and told them to take it down. Even though they did it just because they didn’t like her, I was still upset because she doesn’t have that reputation at all.”
The couple hopes that authorities act against the perpetrators.
“All those girls their rights, they don’t have any rights now. They’ve been exploited, exposed, things have been made up about them. Things like this you see on the news and the following up is a suicide case,” noted Zarilla.
When it comes to the legal side of this, KDKA’s Jon Delano, who is also an attorney, says that just because you can post something anonymously on the internet – or steal someone else’s picture from another website – does not make it legal.
Impugning the sexual morals of anyone – unless it’s true – is treading dangerous water.
Zarilla says, “It should have been taken down even before the name crossed log-in.”
Zarilla says it impugns good people.
“One of them [is] a mother and she’s a good mother,” Zarilla said. “She obviously got pregnant very young, but she thrives now. She works full-time; she takes care of her kid, and she got put on there because she rejected the wrong guy.”
“The publication of an image of a minor without parental consent might certainly carry a criminal sanction,” says Albert Torrence, a Beaver County attorney, part-time assistant district attorney and school solicitor.
“Then, of course, you would have to look at the actual image being published and if there is any sexual innuendo or anything like that; then, it most certainly would,” he said.
Torrence says the perpetrators may also be subject to a defamation lawsuit.
“Those young people tend to believe that they are somehow permitted or immune because it’s on the internet, and that simply isn’t true,” Torrence said.
Zarilla says people are hurt by this and has these words for those responsible.
“To the boys, grow up. You’re not always going to be a little kid,” she said. “When you get older, these girls are going to remember that you were the ones who did this. And to the girls, keep your heads up.”
Even if this is some kids’ prank, thinking they’re being funny while ridiculing young women in their area, it’s a prank with serious legal ramifications.
Cyber-bullying and criminal harassment are offenses with fines and potential jail time.
A civil lawsuit for defamation can be costly, depending on the damages.
State police are asking those with information to contact them at their Beaver station: 724-773-7400.