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A judge has banned a Wisconsin man from the Internet after he used his neighbor's likeness in a prank involving Craigslist personal ads.
Jason Willis, 31, of Waterford, pleaded guilty to posting ads that solicited people to have sex with his neighbor, a woman whom Milwaukee's WTMJ-TV is calling "Dawn" to protect her true identity.
Unfortunately for Willis, his Craigslist prank went very wrong, taking a turn for the creepy and criminal.
Craigslist Prank Gone Bad
According to "Dawn," one of Willis' ads led to a man showing up at her house wearing nothing but a trench coat. He knew her full name and address, she told WTMJ.
Willis' prank of posting a fake Craigslist ad offering sex without Dawn's knowledge was criminal because it required an unlawful appropriation of her likeness. It's a crime even when it's done in jest.
First-time or low-risk offenders who are willing to accept a deal with prosecutors and plead guilty to a criminal charge are often able to swing probation by accepting a plea bargain.
In this case, Willis copped a plea deal allowing him to serve 30 months probation, but Racine County Circuit Court Judge Allan Torhorst included a peculiar probation condition: Stay off the Internet.
Willis now has 30 days to cancel his Internet service.
Internet Ban Is Like DUI Probation: Judge
Statutes determine when probation is possible, but it is up to the sentencing judge to determine whether or not to grant probation and what strings to attach -- in this case, a terribly amusing Internet ban.
Judge Torhorst told WTMJ the Internet ban was analogous to DUI probation conditions: "If you want to drive drunk, you're not allowed to drive." After all, Willis was cruising recklessly on the Information Superhighway (old school Internet joke!).
In reality, it may not be that easy to police Willis' e-abstinence. But if he's caught using the Internet, he would violate his probation and could be made to serve 18 months in prison and then be placed on 18 months of extended supervision.
Now might be a good time for Willis to digitally detox.