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Author Topic: Girl, 14, sues MySpace over alleged sex assault
Chris Bridges
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MSNBC story about a 14-year-old girl who was apparently sexually assaulted by a man she met through MySpace who lied about his age. Her family is suing MySpace for $30 million,

"The suit alleges that MySpace has 'absolutely no meaningful protections or security measures to protect underage users.'"

I'm sorry she was assaulted, if she was. However, I really can't quite seem to see where it is MySpace's responsibility to prevent her from being a moron. She shouldn't be meeting anybody she doesn't know without adult supervision or, at the very least, several friends and a quick escape route. If this guy had been the high school he claimed to be and then assaulted her anyway, would she still have sued?

Maybe MySpace could respond by cutting off all access to their site to anyone under 21. Would that help?

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Stephan
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More detail on the event.

http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=4927571&nav=0s3d

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El JT de Spang
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That would help drive them out of business.

Parents who think protecting their children is everyone else's responsibility makes me crazy.

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Anna
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For crying out loud, when will people learn to take their own responsabilities? If they had met in a library would they sue the library? Why did the parents of the girl allow her to meet with someone they didn't know and stay with this person that long?
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BlackBlade
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I like the mall comparison, do you sue the mall for not figuring out some way to keep shady characters out of its walls?
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erosomniac
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quote:

Maybe MySpace could respond by cutting off all access to their site to anyone under 21. Would that help?

Who would be left, besides bands?
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camus
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quote:
The girl says a 19-year-old man lied in his profile about being a senior on a football team to gain her trust and phone number.
Huh? I can't imagine that the above statement is true and that she actually thought that being a senior football player automatically makes someone trustworthy.
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Katarain
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If someone says it online, it must be true.
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erosomniac
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[ROFL] [ROFL] [ROFL]

1) Someone LIED about themselves on the INTERNET? Woah, woah, hang on, let me go put on my surprise face.

2) He told you he was a senior on the football team? Oh, the deception in being made to believe he was a part of such a virtuous paragon of teenage society!

3) Clearly, this is MySpace's fault. How DARE they not raise your kids for you! No, no, wait, it's the INTERNET's fault. Let's sue the internet, it's richer - I hear they made it all in them dot coms.

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MrSquicky
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I can understand it though. Their poor parenting and her stupidity led to her getting raped. That's an awful thing to live with, so it's natural to want to blame someone else.

All they need is a jury of parents who find it too much work to look after their children and they could very well win the case.

---

Does anyone know if MySpace has a "These are many of the known dangers of socializing on the internet page."? While I don't think that it's their fault if they don't, it would be sort of a good idea and may help the win this case if they did. Or not, I know bugger all about MySpace. Hatrack is almost too much on-line communication for me.

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Chris Bridges
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They should also sue the restaurant they ate at, and the movie theater. Weren't they paying attention?

I don't mean to lessen the fact that this guy was a predator and that she was victimized. But suing MySpace for your own stupidity is just wrong.

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Anna
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*grumbles* Letting your 14 year old dating, and someone you haven't even met...
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BlackBlade
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It wouldnt be so bad letting 14 year old girls date if they didnt have their options limited to 14+ boys.

I've said it once, Ill say it again from the age of 12 to about 21 men are demon spawn and should be locked up.

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ClaudiaTherese
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I'm not sure just what MySpace could or should have done to keep this 14-year-old from meeting up with this 19-year-old. Surely the site can't verify claims that, say, he really was a football player (which certainly wouldn't have been any guarantee, anyway).

Are the parents and lawyer calling for intensive moderation of all messaging and discussion on MySpace to prevent people from sharing identifying details and/or hooking up in real life? Or do they want a general warning notice (and isn't this already in the TOS? -- guessing here, but I'd be surprised to find out otherwise).

Terrible situation regardless, just not sure what MySpace should be called to do differently.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:
3) Clearly, this is MySpace's fault. How DARE they not raise your kids for you! No, no, wait, it's the INTERNET's fault. Let's sue the internet, it's richer - I hear they made it all in them dot coms.

Wouldn't that make it Al Gore's fault?
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MrSquicky
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The "He was lying about being 19." bit seems odd to me. If what this guy was saying was true, he'd be 17 or 18 (or even possibly 19) anyway. Now, I wouldn't let my 14 year old daughter date someone I didn't meet and I obviously wouldn't let her go on a date with someone she had never met, but I don't really think I'd let her date a 17 or 18 year old anyway.
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erosomniac
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quote:
The "He was lying about being 19." bit seems odd to me. If what this guy was saying was true, he'd be 17 or 18 (or even possibly 19) anyway. Now, I wouldn't let my 14 year old daughter date someone I didn't meet and I obviously wouldn't let her go on a date with someone she had never met, but I don't really think I'd let her date a 17 or 18 year old anyway.
All I can point to here is that as an 18 or 19 year old, the guy committed a crime, whereas it would've just been a crappy situation if he was 17.
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Anna
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Raping someone is not a crime if you're underage? If they consensualy had sex you're right, if it's really rape I hope you're not.
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Stasia
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quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:

1) Someone LIED about themselves on the INTERNET? Woah, woah, hang on, let me go put on my surprise face.

[ROFL]
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camus
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Even if it he was 17 and it was consensual, it would still have been a crime because of the age difference being greater than two years, at least here in MN.
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erosomniac
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quote:
Raping someone is not a crime if you're underage? If they consensualy had sex you're right, if it's really rape I hope you're not.
None of the articles linked has said the girl was raped, and I think this strongly suggests that she wasn't (after all, media is sensationalist - what sounds worse, "14 year old girl sexually assaulted because of myspace" or "14 year old girl RAPED because of myspace").

I'm thinking she gave consent - or at least, she was consenting to have sex with who she believed him to be.

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Anna
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Maybe I wasn't clear - I meant if the sex was consensual then being 19 or 17 is important, if he raped her it's not. Being French I don't know about your laws but I'm pretty sure rape is a crime dependless of the age of the perpetrator.
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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I've said it once, Ill say it again from the age of 12 to about 21 men are demon spawn and should be locked up.

Well, not all of us. I was the nice kid all the mothers wanted their daughters to date. And the ones who did couldn't have been in safer hands. At the time I just thought I was extra-righteous. [Wink]
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erosomniac
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quote:
Even if it he was 17 and it was consensual, it would still have been a crime because of the age difference being greater than two years, at least here in MN.
That's one hell of a weird law, one I've never heard of before.

If that law had existed where I grew up when I was that age...I think the crime rate among teenagers would have tripled.

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Anna
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Ero : my mistake, I assumed assault implied there had been violence.
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ElJay
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quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:
None of the articles linked has said the girl was raped,

The second one does, actually.

quote:
They say he even took her out to eat and to the movies before allegedly raping her in the back of his car.
From Stephan's post.
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erosomniac
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quote:
Maybe I wasn't clear - I meant if the sex was consensual then being 19 or 17 is important, if he raped her it's not. Being French I don't know about your laws but I'm pretty sure rape is a crime dependless of the age of the perpetrator.
I understood that, and probably wasn't clear enough in my response: I'm sure rape is a crime regardless of the age of the perpetrator, but I don't think it WAS rape, so (to me) the question of whether it's a crime or not depends solely on the perpetrator's age.
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camus
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quote:
That's one hell of a weird law, one I've never heard of before.
Now that I think about it, I think you're right and I was mistaken. It applies to the couples where one is underage and the other is an adult but within two years of age, I think. I'll have to go look it up. I think I was confusing it with statutory rape.

Although, the second link did say it was rape. [Added] But I understand now what you meant.

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erosomniac
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quote:
Originally posted by ElJay:
quote:
Originally posted by erosomniac:
None of the articles linked has said the girl was raped,

The second one does, actually.

quote:
They say he even took her out to eat and to the movies before allegedly raping her in the back of his car.
From Stephan's post.

Oops!
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KarlEd
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Well, and even if she did give consent through the whole thing, it was still statutory rape if he was a legal adult and she was a minor. (YMMV by state, of course). So it's possible to say she was "raped" even if she was a de facto willing participant in the act.
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Robin Kaczmarczyk
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Spooky.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I've said it once, Ill say it again from the age of 12 to about 21 men are demon spawn and should be locked up.

Well, not all of us. I was the nice kid all the mothers wanted their daughters to date. And the ones who did couldn't have been in safer hands. At the time I just thought I was extra-righteous. [Wink]
Oh I certainly fit the bill as the "Nice boy all the mothers wanted their daughters to date."

But boys at that age are just too stupid to handle women. I guess you have to blunder sometimes to wise up, but its rediculous just how DUMB teenage boys are.

Don't get me started on the emotional instability of the adolecent girl. "I thought if I just gave him what he wanted and slept with him he would start loving me!!! <sob> <sob> <sob>"

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Stephan
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I think the lawyer is looking for a settlement for some easy cash.
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Evie3217
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This is ridiculous. I basically agree with everyone else here. While it's horrible what happened to her, she should know better than to meet some random guy from the internet and her parents never should have let her. I didn't read the article, the guy lied about being 19, or he was 19 and lied about being younger? I'm confused about that part. Still, I don't think the family should sue someone for their own stupidity. That's just stupid. Well, I guess then that would make sense, wouldn't it?
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Dan_raven
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I too was one of those nice boys. I was friends (and only friends) with the class nympho. She told me that her parents had strongly urged her to drop the other boys and marry me. I was never so scared in my life. She also told me if she ever had children (first one came 3 months after graduation) that she wanted me to be in the delivery room. Second most scariest moment in my life.

However I argue against your comment about the instability of adolescent girls.

quote:
"I thought if I just gave him what he wanted and slept with him he would start loving me!!! <sob> <sob> <sob>"
I've heard that from 30-something women. I believe my Grandmother quit riding the senior bus because the other retired women were saying much the same thing.
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KarlEd
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In case I wasn't clear, I didn't want so there was no problem trying to satisfy me. The most "trouble" I got in as a teenager was closed-mouth kiss on her doorstep after the date and that was only because I thought it was expected. (In at least one case more than that was expected and that's why she started dating someone else.) Now I won't argue that I wasn't a dumb teenage boy, I was just a latently gay one. Girls were very safe with me.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
AUSTIN, Texas - A 14-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by another user of MySpace.com sued the social networking Web site Monday, claiming it does not take sufficient steps to protect underage members.
Wow. Whatever happened to "No amount of money can assuage the pain and suffering our family has endured?"

I'm wondering if MySpace should sue the family, claiming that "it does not take sufficient steps to protect underage members."

--j_k

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cheiros do ender
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$30 million [Roll Eyes]
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BlueWizard
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First, I somewhat object to the way the news article used the word 'rape'. Yes, technically what the boy did was statutory rape and the details of the event don't change that, but that is quite different from a violent forced rape, and I think that is an important distinction, further I think it is a distinction that is important for purposes of accurately conveying the news.

As others implied, if it was a violent rape then the ages are irrelevant to the commission of a crime. If the nature of the 'rape' was consensual and it's just a matter of age, it is still a crime, but of a very different nature.

Consider this, while the law doesn't allow this couple to have sex (age 14 and age 19), it would probably have allowed them to get married. Of course, it depend on the particular state. I believe this occurred in Texas, and I'm not familiar with their laws, but it is possible.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to minimize the legal responsibility of this boy. He did what he did, but I think, the news reporters have a duty to make it clear what he did.

Further, she thought he was 15, one year older than her. Didn't she get suspicious when he showed up with heavy five o'clock shadow and was 6 feet tall? I realized I can't say those things with certainty, but the point is, there must have been some clues along the way.

I see a lot of responsibility occurring long before MySpace.com got involved. Certainly this girl used extremely poor judgement. Doesn't she watch TV? Dateline, or some similar show, has been trapping sexual predators for weeks now. The proper procedures for conduct and safety on the Internet have been known for many years. They are talked about on the news, in the papers, at school, and certainly should have been talked about by the girls parents. Then there is the just plain Common Sense aspect of it.

As to what MySpace can do to prevent this, well, they could restrict the site to people over 18 or 21, but how do they verify it??? It is just as easily for a teen to say they are 18 or 21 as it is for a 50 year old man to say he is a 20 year old lesbian. Or they could split it into two services, one for kids and one for adults, but still, what's to stop anyone from making false claims? Nothing, consequently it is up to the individual to use common sense, reasonable caution, and to not act like an idiot.

At some point, people have to take responsibility for their own actions. MySpace didn't tell this girl to communicate with this boy? MySpace didn't tell her to sneak out and see this boy? MySpace didn't do anything except provide a list of profiles of people. It is up to the individual what they do about the profiles they see.

And where were the parents in all this??? Did they monitor their daughters computer use? Did they do as recommended and place the computer in a common area of the house? Did they do anything to insure and assure their daughter's proper and reasonable behavior? Did they take any actions to insure her basic values and her on-line safety?

This girl went of her own free will. She spend an extended amount of time with the guy. What did she think it was all leading up to? I don't know, but the thought of possible sex would have occurred to any reasonable person.

Again, I'm not saying this guy didn't do anything wrong. He commited a clear and knowing crime, and should be punished for it. But to sue MySpace is, as others suggested, right up there with holding the restaurant or the movie theater responsible.

You can't hold the State responsible because you were foolish enough to jump off a bridge or run into traffic. You can't hold the construction company responsible because you were foolish enough to crash your car into the side of a building. The world simply is not idiot proof. When idiots act like idiots, then they have to accept that getting hurt comes with being an idiot.

With regard to the Sex Crime Laws in Minnesota, this is a very complicated process. I can't find a statute in Minnesota that clearly defines the 'Age of Consent', but it is implied in the various Criminal Sexual Conduct law as age 16. These laws define three age groups that are allowed, in a sense, to have sex; 13 to 15, 16 and 17, and 18 and above. So, depending on the circumstances a 15 year old could have sex with a 13 year old, but a 15 year old could NOT have sex with a 16 year old. A 16 and 17 year old could have sex, but a 17 and 18 year old could not.

These law are further complicated by 'age gaps', if the age differential between participant is over a certain amount the crime is compounded. In some cases, even when above the age of consent, as the age gap gets larger the crime is compounded. In that sense, the 'age of consent' is not really the age of consent. Although I can't find a reference to it at the moment, I think it is possible under the right circumstances for someone 18 or over and a much older person to be in legal trouble if they engage in some type of sexual activity.

I'm not complaining or anything, the laws do have a degree of flexibility in them, they define and cover a broad range of circumstances very specifically, but they also have a degree of complication. While your actions may be legal under one general law, you could be in trouble under a more specific law. The simpliest and safest thing to do is to stick with people within the age group boundaries defined above.

Further, in the example of a 16 and 17 year old who are going together. They are legal until the oldest one has a birthday, then suddenly at the stroke of midnight, they are illegal. That is a fine legal point that I think most teens would not understand.

The boy in question commited a crime and got caught, whether the girl consented or not, he still knowingly commited a crime. Therefore he should be punished for his crime. But in reporting the event, I don't think the news media should complicate things by using inflamed language. They have a duty to report in a fair, clear, and factual way.

Finally, I fail to see any real liability on MySpace's part. Now there may be specifics that we don't know that could show some clear liability, but based on what we do know, I think it's about turning tragedy into opportunity and a lot of cash.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bboyminn

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dkw
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quote:
First, I somewhat object to the way the news article used the word 'rape'. Yes, technically what the boy did was statutory rape and the details of the event don't change that, but that is quite different from a violent forced rape,
We don't know that it wasn't a "violent forced rape." From the fact that she immediately went home and told her mother I think it is unlikely this is a case of consensual sex and only "technically" rape because of her age.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
If the nature of the 'rape' was consensual...
By definition, statutory rape does not acknowledge the possibility of consent.
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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
I just thought I was extra-righteous.

I DO think that you are totally righteous.
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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
If the nature of the 'rape' was consensual...
By definition, statutory rape does not acknowledge the possibility of consent.
Yes, but there is legal consent, and there is de-facto consent. I do not believe that human maturity and experience restrict themselves to arbitrary legal definitions. It certainly wasn't always true that a 14 year old could not consent to marry or have sex. I'm not even sure it's the case universally today, even if it is so in the US.

Now, I don't point this out to in any way defend the man in this scenario, but there is a big difference between taking an underage girl on a date and having sex with her with her permission, and using force to have sex with her. While I don't have a problem with punishment for the man in either case, I don't think punishement should necessarily be equal in the two cases.

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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by Tante Shvester:
quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
I just thought I was extra-righteous.

I DO think that you are totally righteous.
[Big Grin]

[Wave]

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GaalDornick
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If both of them are under 18 and both consented, is it illegal?
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Teshi
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quote:
$30 million
Yeah, it seems ridiculously excessive, even if it were justified. Which I don't believe it is in the slightest.
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ricree101
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I'm having a hard time figuring out what they want myspace to do differently. As far as I can see in either article, most of the information was voluntarily given and they had a lot of communication outside of myspace's service. Furthermore, the only alledged misrepresentation that either article mentions is that the guy said he was on the football team, which doesn't exactly seem like a high priority for verification.

I'm sorry that she had something bad happen to her, but this lawsuit needs to be thrown out as soon as possible.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
quote:
$30 million
Yeah, it seems ridiculously excessive, even if it were justified. Which I don't believe it is in the slightest.
remember you have to aim high to get what you REALLY wanted. If they asked for a reasonable sum they would get less than that.

BTW, I am not saying I think the parents should get ANYTHING. I think them getting money fomr this would be one of the worst things for them and their daughter. Just pointing out that if I were going to sue somebody and expected say 10 million. I would sue them for 30-40 million.

Correct me if I am wrong Dagonee but do juries often reward the full amount sought in cases such as these?

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pH
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IIRC, Myspace makes the profiles of everyone who lists his/her age as under 15 private, meaning that only people who are listed amongst the child's Myspace friends can read her profile or access anything more than her default photo.

-pH

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
[Wave]

[Wave]
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