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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

July 13, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Suspended sentence for 12-year-old girl in cyberstalking case

Posted by John de Leon

-- From Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan:

A 12-year-old Issaquah girl who posted sexually explicit photos and messages on a 12-year-old classmate's Facebook page was given a six-month suspended sentence on Wednesday for cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing.

The case against the girl will be dismissed if she stays out of trouble for six months and follows other regulations, such as not contacting the victim and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Earlier, a co-defendant in the case, an11-year-old girl, was sent to the Juvenile Court Diversion Committee, which will order her to complete community service.

"I want to apologize for making people go through all of this," the 12-year-old said in court on Wednesday. " I just feel real bad and if I could go back I would change everything."

According to the charges, the two girls used the victim's password information to post sexually explicit content on her Facebook page. They also instant-messaged "random individuals" under the alleged victim's name to arrange sex acts, Issaquah police said.

The Times generally does not name suspects charged as juveniles.

The victim, Leslie Cote, has asked the media to use her name in hopes of bringing attention to the issue of cyberstalking.

Issaquah police went to Leslie's home on March 18 after her mother, Tara Cote, called to report the vulgar postings on her daughter's Facebook page. A woman who mentors Leslie told the family she had noticed photos on the page had been changed to show Leslie with "devil's horns" and with the words "I'm a slut" scrawled across one image.

Prosecutors said Leslie had been at the home of one of the defendants in early March when she logged into Facebook. Leslie's password information was somehow stored on the girl's computer.

After the girls had a falling-out, the defendants used Leslie's password to access her Facebook page "with the intent of embarrassing and tormenting the victim," police said.

Tara Cote said Wednesday that the defendants' actions "made our lives a living hell."

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