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cyberbullying in Illinois, DuPage criminal defense lawyerTraditional bullying seems to have taken on a new meaning in the digital age. What used to consist of hitting, punching, teasing, or taunting, has in recent years led to digital abuse over online platforms that has led to the suicides of many troubled adolescents. The federal government has had significant difficulty in prosecuting and investigating claims of cyberbullying, that is, to harass, stalk, embarrass, manipulate, or taunt others via electronic means such as through computers, cellphones, or other devices. Such communication may be sexual in nature, may involve explicit photographs, or may eventually lead to blackmail.

This difficulty in prosecuting cyberbullying cases is due to a variety of factors. It can be difficult to determine a single cause that led to a suicide. With third-party parents, other youth, and online predators playing a role, it can be very difficult to pinpoint who is using a specific computer at a specific time, especially if multiple members of a household share a computer. Some think children are being too sensitive; others blame the parents for failing to supervise their children’s online activity. Regardless of where we wish to place the blame, everyone seems to agree that someone should be responsible when a child’s life ends after being endlessly harassed.

Illinois Makes an Effort to Combat Cyberbullying Regardless of the difficulty of enforcing such laws at the federal level, many states have taken on measures to prevent, what many consider, to be a cyberbullying epidemic. Illinois has now joined the ranks of the vast majority of states implementing anti-cyberbullying laws, though as many states, this law will only target one area of cyberbullying. Revenge Porn One particularly vicious form of cyberbullying involves disseminating personal or sexual photographs to unapproved third parties. This is an all-too-common occurrence among youth, and such proliferation of private images has been attributed to several adolescent suicides. Recipients of personal photographs may blackmail or threaten victims to give additional, more revealing pictures. The psychological pressures an adolescent may face with the fear of photo distribution can lead to tragic consequences. The New Laws The new Illinois law specifically targets this type of “revenge porn,” making distribution of sexual images without the photographed individual’s consent a Class 4 felony. Other related measures include allowing educators more freedoms in punishing children caught cyberbullying at school, whether on their personal or school-owned electronic devices. Many cyberbullying cases are simply charged as basic harassment claims, which are pre-existing laws at both the federal and state level. Illinois Cybercrime Criminal Defense Attorneys Cybercrimes of any nature are particularly serious, given that they are often charged federally. Even at the state level, a cybercrime of a sexual nature may lead to permanent consequences that may affect your ability your family, your work, your finances, and your social status. Prosecutors throughout the country have been creative with finding ways to punish cyberbullies; hiring an experienced DuPage County Internet sex crime lawyer is the best way to combat these tactics. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we understand the sensitive nature of these cases and what is on the line for your future. If you have stepped over boundaries on the Internet, you may be in trouble. Contact our DuPage, Cook, Kane, or Will County criminal defense law offices at 630-472-9700 to learn more about your legal rights today.

inside palmer house hotelOver the weekend of January 11th, the former stepson of White Sox Vice President Kenny Williams was at a hotel downtown with his girlfriend.  Dedrick Williams is the son of Kenny’s former wife and has not been in communication with his stepfather for years.  Early on Saturday morning around 3 am, the two had a dispute and hit each other in their hotel room at the Palmer House Hotel.  When the Chicago Police arrived both Dedrick, 30, and his girlfriend, 30, admitted to hitting each other.

Williams’ girlfriend suffered a black eye, a swollen lip and bruises on her arms.  Williams’ injuries were not reported.  She claimed that her injuries were the result of Dedrick punching her in the face with a closed fist.  Both were offered medical attention at the scene but both declined to be treated and were released.

Later, she had a female friend take her to Northwestern Memorial Hospital to receive medical attention.  At the hospital, she confessed that Dedrick sexually assaulted her at the hotel.  The police arrested Dedrick at his home at the 4700 block of North Central Avenue around 9:30 am.  He was charged with felony criminal sexual assault and felony unlawful restraint.  He was also charged with misdemeanor domestic battery.  When he was at bond court on January 14th, the judge set his bond at $150,000 and ordered home monitoring if he would post bond.

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According to CBS Chicago, a now former Maywood police officer is being held on a $200,000 bond. He is being charged with the serious offenses of criminal sexual assault as well as official misconduct for committing illegal acts while on duty.

It is alleged that 38 year old Deon Sims was in his patrol vehicle in Maywood when he noticed a young lady walking along the street. He asked her if she was okay and if she needed any help. He then offered to provide assistance to her. She then allegedly got into the patrol vehicle with him at that time.

DuPage County prosecutors state that he then drove back to the precinct with her still in the vehicle and concluded his shift. He parked his police vehicle and then he and the young lady left in his personal vehicle at that time.

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Following a hearing regarding the handling of the investigation of former Northern Illinois University (NIU) police officer Andrew Rifkin on sex assault charges by NIU police, the DeKalb County State’s Attorney indicated that all charges against Rifkin would be dropped. Rifkin was fired from the NIU police department in October, 2011, amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted a NIU student.

Rifkin’s case took an unexpected turn this month when it became apparent that the NIU police department had failed to turn over witness reports from the investigation indicating that Rifkin and the student in question had engaged in consensual sexual activity. Those reports later resurfaced in a personnel file, and a DeKalb County judge ruled that the police department had intentionally withheld the evidence from all parties. Following that ruling, the judge ordered the NIU police department to execute an affidavit attesting that all evidence had been handed over to county prosecutors regarding the Rifkin investigation, and university officials appointed a new administrator to oversee the department. That same day, at approximately 10:00 p.m., NIU Police Chief Donald Grady apparently ordered a campus police IT specialist to remove between 60 and 70 files from the chief’s computer, although the content of those files was unclear. NIU placed Grady on administrative leave the following day.

This case shows how easily a person can be accused of a serious crime, even without proper evidence to support those accusations. Although Rifkin will not suffer a conviction in this particular case, he is likely to already have suffered damage to his reputation and certainly to his career and future employment prospects due to the allegations that have been made. For these reasons, it is essential that any accusations of criminal activity, and particularly sex offenses, be taken very seriously.

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An Oak Park man was arrested in late October and charged with aggravated child pornography, “after more than 700 pornographic images were found on two computers in his home,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was released on a $500,000 bond, and the court date was scheduled for the last week of October. Joe V. Hymon, 44, was caught when the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force contacted Oak Park police, after an IP address that was “downloading and uploading files containing pornographic images and videos of children” was linked to Hymon’s home.

The ICAC is, according to the Sun-Times, a task force “comprised of state and local law enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute cyber enticement and child pornography cases.” The Chicago Police Department has an entire team dedicated to online safety, known as the Internet Child Exploitation Team. Not only does the team work with other law enforcement agencies, it’s also “committed to teaching children and their parents to be safe during their online activities.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Attorney General, there are an estimated 100,000 web sites that offer child pornography. The industry is worth $3 billion annually, and one in every five children is sexually solicited online. According to Illinois State Law, most child pornography cases, such as the one with which Hymon has been accused, are Class 1 felonies, which can result in imprisonment last four to 15 years. Additionally, those convicted of a child pornography crime can face fees ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.

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