Benson teens charged with cyberbullying

staff writerFebruary 3, 2011 

If you make a threat on Facebook, you might get poked by the law.

Two South Johnston High School students are facing charges that they created a Facebook page to threaten a classmate.

Justin Ray Jackson, 17, of 1715 Creek Bridge Road, Benson, and Joshua Aarron Temple, 18, of 120 Oak Park Drive, Benson, were arrested Monday and charged with misdemeanor cyberbullying. It may be the first time cyberbullying charges have been brought in the Triangle.

Johnston County sheriff's spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said the father of the 15-year-old victim reported the bullying Jan. 19.

Investigators found the Facebook page, which was created specifically to threaten the victim and used his name and description, Amaon said.

"There was various comments on there implying they were going to do harm to him," she said, adding that Jackson and Temple made the comments under their own names.

According to arrest warrants, Jackson posted comments on the page about running over the victim with his pickup truck. Temple's warrant says he wrote "that he was bringing a gun to school to hunt [the victim]."

Amaon said no threats were made against the victim at school. The Facebook page has been removed, she said.

North Carolina's cyberbullying laws were enacted in December 2009 after reports of teens around the country committing suicide because of online bullying. In 2010, 14 minors and three adults were charged with the misdemeanor, although none were convicted, according to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. None of those cases were in the Triangle.

The law makes it a misdemeanor to intimidate or torment a minor, or a child's parent or guardian, using the Internet. Intimidation can include posting a photo of the child on the Internet, signing up a minor for a pornographic site, or harassing a child by e-mail.

Temple and Jackson were released Monday into the custody of their parents. They're scheduled to appear in court March 9. Amaon said they have been suspended from school for 10 days.

colin.campbell@newsobserver.com or 919-836-5768

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