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NJ Cyberbully Jailed For Forwarding Lewd Photos

By Minara El-Rahman on January 21, 2011 5:46 AM

How serious are cyberbullying laws in your state? Well, if you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you could serve jail time for it.

A New Jersey cyberbully will be facing 45 days in prison as a result of forwarding sexually explicit photos of a teenage boy to the boy's school, AP reports. Matthew Bean, a 20-year-old from Bergenfield, N.J., is accused of attempting to drive the teen to commit suicide.

This latest New Jersey cyberbully was part of an "electronic mob." They formed a web group that taunted the teen victim and even posted "[L]et's make this kid want to die," according to court documents quoted by the AP. The case has shown just how serious cyberbullying laws have become in the recent wake of suicide tragedies such as Rutgers student Tyler Clementi and others like Phoebe Prince.

The cyberbullying case took place in Philadelphia. Last year, federal prosecutors indicted Matthew Bean for distributing the lewd photos of the teenage boy, the Wall Street Journal reports. Matthew Bean admitted that he found the sexually explicit photos on a website and that he forwarded the photos to the teenager's Philadelphia school posed as a parent who was concerned about "such beastly behavior."

Matthew Bean initially faced as much as 5 years in prison under the initial indictment of child pornography and 18-24 months under a negotiated stalking plea. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Levy did not lobby hard for a term that long. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody acknowledged that while the 110 pound defendant could face abuse in prison, he deserved to serve time for an "extremely malicious" crime, the ABA Journal reports.

Judge Anita Brody also said that she hopes that the case teaches the victims and other teens about "the stupidity of sexting," according to BusinessWeek. It seems that cyberbullying is an issue that is quickly being addressed by state legislatures in the form of cyberbullying laws, but there are still some challenges. In spite of those challenges, legislators are aware of the often tragic consequences. "You have to be blind to what's going on in this world not to know the effect of cyberbullying on present-day society," said Judge Anita Brody.

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