UPDATE

AS OF JANUARY 1, 2013 - POSTING ON THIS BLOG WILL NO LONGER BE 'DAILY'. SWITCHING TO 'OCCASIONAL' POSTING.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NIKKI CATSOURAS - ANOTHER VICTIM OF INTERNET PREDATION

During the flap over the Megan Meier case, we've met a few new and great bloggers who are out there - like us - speaking truth and trying to bring needed attention to victims of internet predation. As we all know telling is the first big step to healing.

Danny Vice, of The Weekly Vice, just wrote a wonderful post about a deceased young woman who, in death, like Megan Meier - was preyed on by attention seeking sensationalists. Someone(s) who could have cared less about her or the grief of her family and friends in doing what they did. We are reprinting it, with permission, below our commentary.

Internet predators are basically bullies and cowards. They are, as we have said, possibly narcissistic or (at their worst) sociopathic in their need for attention. It varies from cyberpath to cyberpath - do they want sex, do they want a high from illicit online "love", do they want attention, do they enjoy causing pain or heartache, do they just like playing with people's minds? The reasons for predation vary but they are all sick, twisted and wrong. The cyberpath believes they are powerful and anonymous behind a keyboard. And, as you will see in this story - and as Danny Vice so eloquently puts it:
Example after example, the story is the same. Internet predators who victimize the innocent with calculating, heinous acts of disregard, continue to go free. Their activities sometimes even condoned as "free speech".

What may be most troubling however is the ever present excuse making of our elected officials who continue to hide under a desk when the public calls upon them for justice in these cases.

In the case of harassing emails, why didn't officials track down the author behind these offensive attacks? The technology certainly exists. Why would tossing a cigarette butt out a vehicle window constitute a graver offense in the eyes of law enforcement, thus prompting immediate action while cases like these languish in silence?

The excuse lawmakers use to let themselves off the hook stem from the growth of the Internet and how fast it's changing. This is a sham. Chat rooms, message boards, instant messengers and email have been in existence for far over a decade now. While the software used to transmit messages changes slightly, the basic essence of using the Internet to send a message is largely the same. Is a decade or two long enough to establish some basic decency laws in regards to Internet usage? The Vice certainly believes it is.
EOPC believes it is too. The law needs to be expanded so vulnerable persons who may not have the money or resources (predators LOVE targeting these people figuring they will get away scott-free!) can sue for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress with proper proofs. Using a computer and the world wide web as a weapon is a crime. (Like these cyberbullies did using 'free speech' as a cover for slamming victims)

One prime example is the bigamists we have reported here on EOPC. These people use the internet as one-click-shopping for new victims, often on 'single parent' or 'adult social networking' - yet they get nothing more than a slap on the wrist and the police most often make victims do ALL the legwork (often with no money or support) of trying to dig up paperwork that is almost impossible to get without law enforcement's help! That's a great way to avoid responsibility, again! Bigamy victims are usually broke, have PTSD and all sorts of problems to deal with while the law lays back and still calls bigamy a "rare crime." (CLICK HERE FOR MORE)

Lawmakers and law enforcement's responses are piss poor to internet predators; unless they're a pedophile. There are laws on the books such as INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS or the COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT OF 1996 - yet they do nothing. Even when victims bring them proof after proof of what was done. They sit back and make the same lame excuses that the law did in Megan Meier's case. This has to stop. And only we, the public, can put pressure on the law to do the right thing and hold this sort of predator and harrasser accountable for their heinous & exploitive behavior. Usually the victims hear that either 'there is no crime here' or 'no law applies' or 'you were an adult you should have known better.' One of our victims was told the last response and when she got up to leave the police station the Sargeant said "oh, we forgot, you KNEW this guy for a long time!" Nice job validating people who are already completely ripped to shreds emotionally & mentally.

Some say what EOPC does is a crime. Probably the cyberpaths. We make sure our victims are NOT out for revenge and we make them jump through hoops for truthfulness & verifiability before we do an exposure. We are not lying to anyone, exploiting them, using them for money, sex or kicks, neither are we getting our jollies posting graphic and/or salacious materials on the net. No. Our goals?
  1. To help the victim feel less alone, less 'stupid & naive' and give them support
  2. To call the cyberpath into accountability for what they have done. This is not a faceless, nameless, victimless crime - there are people on the other side of the screen
  3. To offer direction to counseling for the victim, and the cyberpath - if they ask for it
  4. To alert webusers to the pervasive patterns all cyberpaths and cyberbullies follow
  5. To alert webusers to the patterns of blame shifting, excuse, disappear, non-closure and non-apologies all cyberpaths and cyberbullies follow
  6. To bring attention to these issue in hopes that the law will catch up and give our victims and other some measure of justice for their pain
So please read the story of Nikki Catsouras - a lovely young girl whose death allowed internet web-vultures to feed off of her and her family's pain:

Nicole "Nikki" Catsouras - Another Example Of The Internet Predator Problem

by Danny Vice

Meet Nikki Catsouras, a beautiful 18 year old who's life was brutally cut short in a gruesome car crash Halloween night, 2006. Traveling at what the California Highway Patrol estimates to be about 100 miles per hour, an intoxicated Nikki slammed her father's Porche 911 into a concrete tollbooth.

The accident is really nothing unique unfortunately, but the events that followed provide an extremely sobering example of the evil that lurks within the Internet. It also exposes the tragic reality of how unreasonably ineffective our laws are for dealing with online predators, bullies and harassers.

The details:

Shortly after Nikki Catsouras accident, photographs of the accident were taken by the California Highway Patrol. This is normal policy and a widely followed practice of accident scene investigators who are seeking to preserve the accident scene. Unfortunately for the Catsouras family, this is the point where the their daughter's tragedy would be turned into an ongoing nightmare.

While some details of the case have yet to emerge completely. We do know that someone from the California Highway Patrol leaked these photos to the public. Within a matter of weeks, the accident scene photos succeeded in saturating the internet.

The photos in question were extremely graphic. The twisted wreckage of the accident are convincing enough, however the most upsetting images were those of Nikki, who's nearly decapitated head was smashed open. Parts of her head were scattered across the scene while Nikki was still seatbelted in the driver's seat of the car.

It's important to give a description of the photos, so you'll understand the Heinousness of what came next, however the Vice has chosen to NOT display these images in consideration of the Catsouras family, and it's pending lawsuit against the CHP.

While the leaking of these images opens many issues about how law enforcement handles it's investigative material, the real outrage is what the Catsourus family was forced to experience next.

Soon after the release of these photos, while the Catsouras family were still mourning their daughter's death, the family began to receive taunting messages along with the most graphic images from their daughter's accident scene. The photos quickly made their way to an estimated 1,600 websites across the Internet.

Just a few days after the accident, Nikki's teenage cousin opened her cell phone and was confronted with an image of of Nikki's mangled remains. This was no isolated event as many members of the Catsouras family began receiving emails, text messages and links to websites which repeated these graphic images over and over.

The statements that accompanied the images were often cruel, poking fun at the beautiful girl who was no longer beautiful. Even the deceased girl's MySpace page had contained anonymous postings of the accident scene, and a tribute site that was created for Nikki was eventually found to be little more than another front for displaying the grizzly photos.

Christos (Nikki's father) and Lesli Catsouras no longer go online or use email accounts. The Catsouras' three children also avoid using the Internet.
"It's evil!" says Nikki's mother Lesli Catsouras. "It's evil, and this was done maliciously as a joke. And it has devastated our lives completely. People should know that this can happen to them."
"There was threats that people were gonna put the pictures on my locker, in my locker," said Danielle (Nikki's sister). "I remember her in such a great way, I don't wanna see it and have that image stuck in my head."

Nikki's mother agrees. "I've stopped using my email," she says. "I don't want to see these every single day. ... And you know, I take a risk every time I go to the computer.

"We talk about Nikki all the time," says Nikki's father Christos. "We've got pictures of her everywhere. We laugh about her, cry. I always called her Angel."
Tyler Offenhauser, the family's attorney laments the utter lack of legal recourse in cases like these. "The Internet is growing in leaps and bounds. The law is not," he explains.

The Catsauras family's lawsuit against the CHP for allegedly releasing releasing the accident scene pictures to the public was recently confirmed by a judge who set the case for trial before a jury.
"They were crime scene pictures that never, ever should have gone out," says Christos. "There was a big mistake made by the California Highway Patrol that was never really acknowledged, or they never wanted to help us once the mistake had been made".
While the CHP has admitted in a letter to the Catsouras family that it's dispatchers violated department policy, it has said it is not responsible for the Catsouras' anguish.
Vice Reaction:

Example after example, the story is the same. Internet predators who victimize the innocent with calculating, heinous acts of disregard, continue to go free. Their activities sometimes even condoned as "free speech".

What may be most troubling however is the ever present excuse making of our elected officials who continue to hide under a desk when the public calls upon them for justice in these cases.

In the case of harassing emails, why didn't officials track down the author behind these offensive attacks? The technology certainly exists. Why would tossing a cigarette butt out a vehicle window constitute a graver offense in the eyes of law enforcement, thus prompting immediate action while cases like these languish in silence?

The excuse lawmakers use to let themselves off the hook stem from the growth of the Internet and how fast it's changing. This is a sham. Chat rooms, message boards, instant messengers and email have been in existence for far over a decade now. While the software used to transmit messages changes slightly, the basic essence of using the Internet to send a message is largely the same. Is a decade or two long enough to establish some basic decency laws in regards to Internet usage? The Vice certainly believes it is.

In both the Nikki Catsouras case and the Megan Meier case, we're continually reminded of how inept our laws are to combat such egregious acts of lawlessness, however these same officials ignore the call to pass the laws they say would convict such acts. We'd like to know what the hold up is.

In very few instances have I ever seen such a great disconnect between lawmakers and the public it claims it serves. In very few instances have I seen such a clear, concise message being sent to lawmakers to act. It isn't every day that an entire nation becomes outraged at the lack of law, yet lawmakers fail to heed the call.

In many Internet stalking/harassment cases, perpetrators refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
In both cases here, we have a complete lack of real concern from officials towards victims of these cases. They simply continue to point out the lack of legal recourse as if it were a bragging right.

Why wouldn't voters be outraged at lawmakers who waste massive amounts of time running American troop activities into the ground, while our own children are exploited, harassed, stalked and even murdered - all the while excusing themselves from responsibility by casting it off as a freedom of speech. (and other adults Danny. Mostly vulnerable members of the population who are looking for support and get a cyberpath! Most of our victims did NOT meet their predator in online dating but something much more inocuous, where these cyberpaths lie in wait for the 'wounded' to come by - Fighter)

Laws that are eventually enacted are so weak, they often times rival the seriousness of a speeding ticket. It's really time the issue be fully explored as a priority at both the state and federal levels. Unfortunately we aren't optimistic that this will be the case - as lawmakers have already played the "freedom of speech" card in both cases here.

SOURCE

CLICK HERE FOR THE WEB PAGE ABOUT THE CASE BY THE CATSOUROS FAMILY'S LAWYERS.

UPDATE: We have been trading emails about the hits we are getting on this story under "Nikki Catsouras Crash Photos." We thought Megan Meier was getting loads of hits but no - in just the few hours this has been on our site, the hits are astronomical. This just shows how voyeuristic people are to be LOOKING for graphic crash photos of someone's child. Unreal.

We are not distrubed by the fact that Nikki was driving fast but that sick people find it necessary to SEND these pictures to her family and friends over & over & over to do nothing more than harrass & torture them. Any comments suggesting this is O.K. to do to her family & friends will be deleted.

2 comments:

OneOfSeven said...

Another great post, Fighter. Am also glad to hear there are other bloggers, who like yourself, are on the side of the victim, not the predator. I watched the Fox Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, and I must say they seemed very unsympathetic towards Megan and more out to get you! Hmmmmm? What is this world coming to?

shady said...

Oneofseven: that is because Mike and Juliet are douchebags... They are the worst TV show hosts ever... well, OK maybe Tyra is. And Rachel Ray... but they are close.

Anyway, another excellent post. And yet more examples of how the Internet truly is a shitty place sometimes. Anyone with an ounce of anger or ill-intent can now feed their hunger anonymously. It’s crappy. It’s another reason why parents need to be more involved. The need to know what their child is doing (p.s. I am a HUGE advocate of monitoring software – PC Pandora). There used to be ethics and etiquette classes in school (remember, like how to se the table)… there should be ones for the Internet. If your teen is being a bully on the Internet, you should be held accountable.

There should also be WAY more legislation to hold people accountable for their actions on the net. You wouldn’t publish stuff like that in a newspaper or a book (it’s illegal); why then is it allowed on the Internet? It’s really messed up the stuff that is allowed… makes you wonder how much good the Internet has done and is worth.

Really really heartbreaking.