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Investigation of Internet harassment apparently fell through cracks at Sheriff’s Office

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By Emile Hallez

A harassment complaint related to a 13-year-old girl’s personal information being posted to a pornographic website last year was never pursued, inadvertently leaving the case open and uninvestigated since July.

The open sheriff’s report was brought to the Courier’s attention by the girl’s mother, after her daughter was charged in connection with a Feb. 13 altercation at Columbine High School involving a hammer.

An unknown party allegedly posted the girl’s name, age and phone number to a well-known image-hosting website that includes pornography. Consequently, the girl soon began receiving lewd text messages and photos on her cell phone, her mother said.

“These guys saw on the Internet that she was 13. Why didn’t they get charged?” said Liza, whose last name is being withheld to help conceal her daughter’s identity.

The report includes transcriptions of some of the messages the girl received from unknown out-of-state phone numbers.

Though the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office has a safety net that usually prevents open cases from going into limbo, a spokeswoman said the department could not tell why the case was not further pursued, other than that the responding deputy did not perform a follow-up.

“The bottom line on that is that it did not get followed up by the patrol deputy who originally took the report,” spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said. “(I’m) a bit frustrated. … We need to look at all of our cases equally … and apparently that didn’t happen.”

The Sheriff’s Office will be pursuing leads in the case, she said. Though it is common for cases to remain “administratively open” in the absence of leads, it is unusual for one with leads to not be pursued.

“There are a couple of names in that report. Those two individuals will still be … looked at in some fashion,” Kelley said, explaining that interviews may take place. “I don’t know how valuable or viable they will be. But it is when all of those leads are exhausted that a case is administratively open, pending.”

The leads, related to the then-13-year-old girl’s acquaintances, will be examined, potentially by a school resource officer, she said.

“There doesn’t appear to be any follow-up that was done, and that will happen now,” she said.

 

Contact Emile Hallez at emile@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233 ext. 22.