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Judge: MySpace Guiltless In Child Assault

Frank Ahrens

Yesterday, a Texas judge tossed out a lawsuit against MySpace, the world's biggest social-networking site brought by the family of a 13-year-old girl assaulted by a man who found her through her MySpace page.

The man, 19-year-old Pete Solis of Texas, lied about himself on his MySpace page to gain the trust of the girl, who is identified as Julie Doe in the suit. He was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child last year.

Doe's family sued MySpace for $30 million and their case was joined by other families who had experienced similar assaults. MySpace is owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp, and is fighting legislative efforts to restrict access to the site at school and library computers.

In dismissing the suit, the judge wrote: "To impose a duty under these circumstances for MySpace to confirm or determine the age of each applicant, with liability resulting from negligence in performing or not performing duty, would of course stop MySpace's business in its tracks and close this avenue of communication..."

In the end, according to the judge, "If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace."

Your thoughts?

By Frank Ahrens  |  February 15, 2007; 11:37 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Comments

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I agree with the judgement.It is absolutely the responsibility of parents to keep track of their children.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 1:03 PM

Nobody wants to parent anymore. It's to difficult. It's easier to blame others after the fact rather than discipline and monitor kids so they do the right thing.

That said I think MySpace has a small degree of responsibility here.

Posted by: Mark | February 15, 2007 1:20 PM

For the amount of money I pay to MySpace every month, I expect the company not only to discern my child's lies and irresponsible behavior, but to feed and cloth her as well.

Posted by: Harry | February 15, 2007 1:24 PM

People could certify themselves/profiles online so that we could have safer communities

Posted by: Ric | February 15, 2007 1:25 PM

I am glad that someone saw the light here. Whatever happened to parenting and being responsible for kids. If myspace is responsible since a kid lied..then I guess..Targets and walmarts are responsbile for teenagers stealing things from them.

The current technology doesn't allow validating the age of a person without gathering a lot of personal information.

Parents cannot expect schools and business to do the parenting of kids.

Posted by: dude1 | February 15, 2007 1:27 PM

I love this judge! Too bad that Little Ms. Doe's parents have to have reality slap them in the face like this. They should have been parenting. They are obviously extending their track record as miserable, unfortunate failures into a new realm -- litigation. And shame on their chump lawyers who took their money to bring such a misguided lawsuit. I'll bet that the fees were not all contingent on winning the case.

Posted by: Scott | February 15, 2007 1:29 PM

I too agree with the judgment. Parents are responsible to keep track of what their children are doing online.

Parents also need to make it clear to kids that it can be anyone behind a screen ID, including people who hurt and/or take advantage of children.

Parents need to be involved with their kids lives, instead of using Myspace as an excuse for their ignorance.

I also believe that children should not have computers in their rooms where they can troll the web unsupervised.

Posted by: Kevin | February 15, 2007 1:30 PM

I do not allow my child to be on my space. There is too much that other parents do not restrict their children from posting on their sites. There are young girls that already have a thought that everything in life happens like it does in the movies and TV. They have been baby-sat by these devices without supervision. It is no wonder that things like this are happening. They believe what other people say because it does not hurt the charactors on TV.
I feel sorry for the child that was assulted. The children of this world are our future and it does not seem like many parents want to invest in that future. I know that alot of children that have this kind of parenting end of being the same kind of parent. I hope that the children have some one in their life that can help them break the cycle.

Posted by: Lisa | February 15, 2007 1:35 PM

It's the parents' fault, stupid. They must have their heads up their a**** if they imagine that someone else is responsible for mmaking sure their child is safe.

Posted by: Dave | February 15, 2007 1:37 PM

I agree with the judgement. Parents need to step up and be PARENTS. This includes educating their children about the dangers online.

Next parents will want the walmarts and the malls to stop their children from making purchases of certain clothes and makeup.

Posted by: Avi | February 15, 2007 1:39 PM

The parents raised a lying child. The parents raised a child who would hide "relationships" from them. So the kid and the parents are failing the responsibility gig here. So it is CLEAR it must be somebody elses fault. Just blame Society while we are at it. Oh yea, they ara a part of our society. OH well, I guess I will blame someone else for me not knowing the answer too.

Posted by: Nickf | February 15, 2007 1:42 PM

What is the world coming to? A logical decision by a judge to place responsibility where it belongs.

Posted by: wvstag | February 15, 2007 1:44 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with this judge. Myspace is not MYPARENTS or MyRESPONSIBILITY.. parents need to step up and take responsibility for their children's actions. If the judge would have ruled against myspace, that would have opened up a whole can of worms that would spread across the entire spectrum of internet websites, chatrooms, ect... the bottom line is once a person logs into a website, they must assume responsibility and if that person is underage, then it falls on the parents to have knowledge and supervision. If the parents cannot assume that responsibility, which realistically, it is hard to do these days..... that responsibility should NOT fall on Myspace or anyother website.

Posted by: Nas | February 15, 2007 1:45 PM

Where were the parents and the adults while this child was creating and maintaining this web page, and subsequently cultivating an online relationship with a stranger? This is yet another example of parents swiftly absolving themselves of any wrongdoing. Thirty MILLION dollars? These parents should be ashamed of themselves. If anything, this lawsuit should have been aimed at those responsible for this child's upbringing, protection, and education: the parents.

Posted by: Allison | February 15, 2007 1:46 PM

I agree with the judge's decision not to fault MySpace. MySpace provided the means of communication, but in no way influenced this event from occurring - as sad and traumatic as I'm sure it has been for this girl and her family.

However, there are many things that both parents and MySpace can probably do together to better ensure the online safety of minors. This website discusses MySpace forming an ad campaign to reach out to both parents and kids about safely using MySpace - http://news.com.com/MySpace+reaching+out+to+parents/2009-1041_3-6059679.html.

I'm sure there are ways that some teenagers would work their way around this, but could MySpace provide daily or weekly emailed reports that show parents who their child is talking to through MySpace? A valid parent's email account would then be required upon registering a new MySpace account, thus the parent would essentially be giving permission to their child to create an account.

By default, couldn't MySpace set its sites to be Private for anyone under the age of 18? I know that many people over 18, even, still set their page to private so random "MySpace Stalkers" cannot simply click on a picture, and view a person's page.

Those security settings may help deter some of these events from happening. Just my two cents...

Posted by: Jeff | February 15, 2007 1:46 PM

Her parents wanted to make a bit of money out of her tragic misfortune is all. Now they've failed her twice, first when they failed to supervise their kid and were directly responsible for her getting hurt and second, trying to exploit her.

Posted by: Gwen | February 15, 2007 1:47 PM

What! A judge with common sense? - My faith is temporarily restored.

I'd go one further and outright put the blame the two individuals who did the deed. It sickens me that everyone feels stupid decisions and illegal actions are the fault of everyone but the perpetrators.

And only people without would children feel PARENTS are to blame for every dumb thing a child can possibly do...

Posted by: EKW | February 15, 2007 1:52 PM

I agree with the judgement. Parents need act like parents and suprevise their children. Any child on a computer should be supervised closely.

Posted by: Sylvia Gisewhite | February 15, 2007 1:55 PM

Its about time the legal system FINAL stepped up to the plate and said 'hey , you are responsible for the consequences of your actions...not someone else". I find it sickening in this day and age where it is always someone elses fault. No one is accountable. I say here here to the judge!

Posted by: Sue | February 15, 2007 2:02 PM

"For the amount of money I pay to MySpace every month, I expect the company not only to discern my child's lies and irresponsible behavior, but to feed and cloth her as well."

Posted by: Harry


Um. Harry, is your child telling you they need money for Myspace? Because it is actually free. You may want to see what she's doing with all that extra cash!

By the way, it's about time a judge put a stop to people trying to get rich off their own stupidity.

Posted by: Katie | February 15, 2007 2:03 PM

It seems to me that parents are not taking the time to know their kids. I get to know my teenage son's friends by volunteering to drive them where they want to go (sometimes 5 or 6 at a time)and by participating in their interests. None of the other parents seem to be able to be bothered by or accepting of their interests. I take them to music concerts and supervise what they are doing and who whith. My son has a myspace page and I sit and snoop whenever I can.
I do not have any more time than the rest of the parents. I am a single mother that works full time -plus odd jobs to make ends meet. MY child is MY responisibility.

Posted by: Carrie | February 15, 2007 2:05 PM

The girl lies.
The parents fail to monitor their child's activities.
The girl was not raped, she was willing.
She's a horny, lying teenager and that's her own fault.

Posted by: Amie | February 15, 2007 2:05 PM


"For the amount of money I pay to MySpace every month, I expect the company not only to discern my child's lies and irresponsible behavior, but to feed and cloth her as well."

Posted by: Harry

Response by Katie:
"Um. Harry, is your child telling you they need money for Myspace? Because it is actually free. You may want to see what she's doing with all that extra cash!

By the way, it's about time a judge put a stop to people trying to get rich off their own stupidity."
____________________________________________

Katie,

I think Harry was being sarcastic and insinuating that Myspace is free by making the point that they are not actually responsible for feeding and clothing her...

At least, that is how I interpreted Harry's comment.

Kevin

Posted by: Kevin | February 15, 2007 2:10 PM

Please people! This CHILD made amistake and yes the parents are responsible for not being involved enough. BUT to talk like she DESERVED and even LOOKED to ne molested is SAD. Yes, teenagers have raging hormones - and they also lack the maturity to know what's best for them... that is why they NEED PARENTS to SUPERVISE. This CHILD did not DESERVE this!

Posted by: Carrie | February 15, 2007 2:11 PM

Well lets see here: There are checks and balances in place where a 13 year old cannot buy a pack of cigaretts, a six pack of beer and perhaps an airline ticket. Kids have allways found ways around these battles of witts. So to pile on more "Law" may seem meaningless; however, it is the obligation of society to protect children and adults from themselves and others. The Internet is a wonderful and powerful asset to society. Needless to say also with its share of scams and rippoffs awaiting the unsuspecting child or adult. An ounce of legislative prevention here may be better than a pound of cure after the harm is done. Yes we as a society owe protection above and beyond what is reasonablly expected to be provided in the "Ideal Home". The parents should have sued the 19 year old also if they were serious about their childs injury to her hornor and diginity.

Posted by: Fareed | February 15, 2007 2:12 PM

Katie, Harry was using sarcasm.

And yea, the judge made the right call. Good for him!

Posted by: Mike | February 15, 2007 2:21 PM

I agree with the judge, but let me ask you a different question...

Did you check the crash test ratings of your car before you bought it? The back seat where your kids sit? If not, you are more guilty than Doe's parents of not paying attention. Your kid is more likely to get killed in the back seat of your car then molested online.

However - the bigger question is "Should MySpace inform parents and children about the way their product can be used as a vehicle to bring harm to others?" The insurance Institute of America made information available to you to make a wise decision. Did you use it? MySpace gave your kid a release to sign. Did it give them enough information to ask their parents or make an informed decision?

Posted by: John | February 15, 2007 2:26 PM

I'm glad to see that everybody agrees that the parents are to blame. I somehow think that the girl's parents "still don't get it". And that's sad. Also for the girl to have such clueless parents. Great job they're doing preparing her for the real world.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 2:29 PM

Now I'd like to see Myspace go after these greedy non-parenting figures for all of the attorney's fees that Myspace had to spend to defend this bogus lawsuit.

Posted by: sk8rgurl | February 15, 2007 2:43 PM

Anyone who has actually raised children would not be the first to throw a stone....children do stupid and unexpected things with or without supervision....no one deserves to be assaulted whether they are stupid or their parents are clueless....we need to come together to think of ways to make the world safer for our children.

Posted by: Working mom of 3 | February 15, 2007 2:48 PM

"In the end, according to the judge, "If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace."

Well, sure parents should have an eye on a 13 year old. Of course. But what about this liar Pete Solis who assaulted the girl? Has he no social responsibility here? Of course he does. He has a moral duty to leave children alone and not to do violence to other people. At 19, yes, he does.

Why do we turn from the creeps to find fault with parents or Myspace? He ought to have to work to pay every nickle of what that child and her parents will need to care for what he's done to her. And he ought to have his picture in the paper, so we can see it, and know to keep our kids away from him.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 3:03 PM

I agree with the judgement. I am tired of the way parents act these days. They NEED to take responsibility for their kids and their kids' actions.

TV and/or the computer is NOT a babysitter.

The majority of parents I know are not all that responsible and I would not be surprised if their children ended up in some sort of problem somewhere.

The baby boomer generation needs to stop being selfish and take care of their little ones, no matter how little (or old) they may be.

Enough is enough. Quit suing and start parenting!

Wils

Posted by: Willow Reed | February 15, 2007 3:04 PM

Thank goodness, the judge made that ruling! I keep thinking of all the implications if he had ruled in favor of the parents. I am so sick of people not taking responsibility for their actions, and in this case, they failed to monitor their daughter's activities. TURN OFF HER COMPUTER if you are unable to keep track of what she is doing! Better, take the computer away until she is of age. Of course, this child did not deserve the assault. I don't blame her at all. I don't even blame her clueless parents. But I do think it was a crime for them to try and blame myspace and make money off a horrible crime.

Posted by: Rose | February 15, 2007 3:05 PM

This has been going on long before my space showed up.

Posted by: Tailgunner | February 15, 2007 3:05 PM

My house has totally changed since I took my son off myspace and aol. His behavior and demeanor towards others has all changed for the better. I totally agree with the judge.

Posted by: Karen | February 15, 2007 3:07 PM

Both my sons have MySpace Accounts. Guess what? I have an account too. I can read their profiles, blogs and comments. I keep track of who they are talking to and what they are talking about.

How did the 13 year old get to the parking lot? Hopefully, she didn't driver herself.

Take responsibility parents.

Posted by: Susie | February 15, 2007 3:07 PM

A very good judgment, its parent's responsibility to look after their children and to make sure what they are doing, where they are going, with whom they are going.
MySpace is not responsible for what happen, its just an avenue for social networking. To me it feels here parents were after free money 30 Million in damage.......

Posted by: Hershal | February 15, 2007 3:07 PM

I forgot to add that I am a working mom as well. I have two teenage children. I worked in the IT industry for ten years doing help desk work.

My kids were raised around computers so it was no huge deal for them to visit 'my space.' They also were raised to know better than to have personal dealings with anyone they do not know well.

I raised them to talk things out both together and with me, and I take part in their lives instead of letting the schools/tv/internet/day care do it for me.

My kids are my responsibility and I take that seriously.

I wish more people did. I am tired of hearing of the harm coming to kids because of their lazy, stupid, and selfish parents.

Wils

Posted by: Willow Reed | February 15, 2007 3:09 PM

This story is based on a false premise. It most likely was not the family or other famlies that sued.

It was a class action lawyer that noticed that News Corp/Myspace has deep pockets (in the $Billions) and saw dollar signs. The lawyers then needed standing and someone to sue on behalf of, and just did a simple Google search for names and locations of girls that were assaulted due to people they met on MySpace, and the lawyers went to these parents and told the parents that if they win they will get $millions and if the parents lose in court the parents won't lose a dollar since the class action lawyers usually work for free.

The parents were just pawns, all the parents did was let their names be used on a piece of paper filed with the courts, that was probably their extent of dealings with this entire case.

Class action lawyers probably knew they were going into this case with a 1-percent chance of winning it, a 1-percent chance is pretty good when you realize the number of worthless cases these class action lawsuits the sewer rat lawyers file; file enough and you are bound to strike gold sometimes.

John Edwards will tell you that, that is how he made his fortune and could afford to build the biggest home in his county in North Carolina. Throw enough class-action BS at the wall and something is bound to stick.

Posted by: Daniel K | February 15, 2007 3:11 PM

the bad people have been on every single site. its not a myspace problem. it is an internet problem. my child has internet n her room. with locks & parent watching programs & everyone i do not approve is blocked. it is important to let children use the internet for the right reasons. myspace is the wrong reason. there is a myspac ban in our home. i do not like the service or the type of people attracted to it. i am hoping that leading by example will help in my own parenting success.

Posted by: Mom | February 15, 2007 3:11 PM

Services like MySpace have and will always be abused.

There are hundreds of ways to prevent Children from getting involved in this kind of stuff.

Most firewalls now let users to block services and websites.

Web Browsers leave a lot of rubbish from websites which is ideal for snooping(Especially Internet Explorer)

Take away all privacy, again this can be done through applications.

It isn't that hard to restrict childrens access to the internet and remove all privacy.

The main problem is that most parents don't know how and some trust their children too much!

Posted by: Rob | February 15, 2007 3:14 PM

MYSPACE IS FOR 18 AND UP.... BOTTOM LINE... ITS FOR PEOPLE THAT LIKE TO TALK AND MEET NEW PEOPLE AND DESIGN PAGES... ITS NOT A SEX SITE... LEAVE IT TO MINDLESS MORONS TO MAKE A CLEAN SITE SOMETHING DISUSTING.. I AGREE WITH THE JUDGE.. I BLAME THE PARENTS.. WHERE WERE THEY? ITS CALLED PARENTAL BLOCK... LOOOK INTO IT....

Posted by: ELIZABETH | February 15, 2007 3:15 PM

I agree with the judgement. There are numerous software programs for parents to be able to monitor the electronic communications of their children.

Most people are able to use these forms of communication without problems, but parents who have children who use the Internet should be aware that predators are increasingly using sites like myspace to prey upon the vulnerable.

Perhaps it is something educators can become involved in as well. Education in the school setting and public forums on how to keep children safe online may be the first steps we as a society could take to protect our children online.

Posted by: Harley | February 15, 2007 3:16 PM

Of course it's the parents fault!!!

It is about time parents took responsibility and stopped trying to pass it off to television and the internet to do their job!

Finally a resonable ruling!!!!!!

Posted by: Common Sense | February 15, 2007 3:17 PM

i agree with the judge parents provide the kids with the computer and the net then blame others when the kids get into trouble what happened to parents knowing what their kids are doing and talking to ? i know my parents knew who i was with and when i was gone and where i was at all times if they had any doubts, they got up and looked in on me not just took my word for it , but thats what a parents job is.

Posted by: joella | February 15, 2007 3:17 PM

I hope this lawyer gets barred. Scum sucking lawyers who will do anything to get any monies from any co. persons.
The parents are bottom feeders too!

Shame on all them. Look into the mirror!!!!!

Posted by: I'm the father of Ann Nicoles Kid | February 15, 2007 3:18 PM

Totally agree with the judge's ruling!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 3:20 PM

30 million? Had these parents asked for 500k, they probably would have received it, because it might be reasonable to think that they might be entitled to some compensation for the horrible act that was committed against their little girl. MySpace probably would have even settled out of court for 500k. But 30 million? That's ridiculous. I know it's one of those things that a person can't put a price tag on, but it makes it seem like these parents are using this horrible event to get rich so that they don't have to work any more.

Posted by: Duane | February 15, 2007 3:21 PM

I know exactly what my child is doing most of the time. I know her logins to her email and web spaces . I look at her history and logs of chats. (I do it more for the reason as I want to know who's talking to her) I'm her parent and thats my job, to protect my young. I also believe that the Judge should place the parents in front of his desk and bring them up on charges of neglect. Any parent who isn't aware of what their child is doing in this day and age of lost innocents need their head examined. It's not their children that are bad it the ill intent in the world towards children

Posted by: Gerry | February 15, 2007 3:21 PM

The parents wanted to make millions off their child's misfortune.

Makes you sick.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 3:27 PM

I don't think anyone here is saying that the child 'deserved' to be assaulted. The parents have tried to establish that someone other than the perpetrator is partially to blame for the asault. Perhaps the telephone she used to call the perpetrator, or the ISP that provided internet access were to blame. Or perhaps the parents who were there the whole time and managed not to prevent it. Nice to see some common sense.

Posted by: cs | February 15, 2007 3:28 PM

They are entitled to $0 Duane!

They neglected their child and gave her privilages she should never have had.

There are a lot of things parents can do to prevent this from happening!

A bit of common sense helps!!!!

Oh by the way MySpace is 18+, in my opinion they have no obligation to protect children as they have to LIE ABOUT THEIR AGE to use the service!!!

Posted by: Rob | February 15, 2007 3:29 PM

I agree with the judge and most of the posters here, except the comment about lazy baby boomer parents. At 60, I'm at the front edge of the boomer wave. At 50, my sister is at the trailing edge. Our children are grown, safely and well, thank heavens;our in-between brother's kids as well. If you have to point fingers, how bout that Me generation? My point: there have always been involved parents and uninvolved parents. And fingerpointing doesn't usually help, anyway.

Posted by: Maggie | February 15, 2007 3:30 PM

Fathers of America can easily olve this problem since law enforcement is so hampered by bleeding heart communists and other Democrats.. simply create your own myspace account which portrays you as a young girl seeking older companionship... make an arrangement to meet the perverts who find you.. and use a .357 to remove their instrument of perversion... both the head between the legs and the other between the shoulders... after all myspace is not responsible... you too can be a hero.

Posted by: Concerned Father | February 15, 2007 3:30 PM

MySpace is as responsible for Julie Doe's safety as the cement supplier is responsible for a rape that occurs on a sidewalk somewhere.

Posted by: Ryan | February 15, 2007 3:30 PM

For those parents who think they are "not allowing" their children on Myspace, think again. Your child likely has an account through a friend's computer, the school network or any number of other methods.

I know personally of two Myspaces being put together by somebody other than the owner of the page. Meaning that friend "a" snaps a picture of friend "b" and builds a myspace page for friend "b" regardless of parental consent.

Good luck regulating your children, I do not envy your position here.

Posted by: Kaligula | February 15, 2007 3:31 PM

Wow, where is the compassion. A piece of trash 19 year old took advantage of a 13-year old inexperienced little girl.

His parents were absent I will agree with that. Also the girl's parents were as well.

But the fact is My space is basically a bastion for predators and retards who can't socialize like normal people. Do our kids and humanity a favor turn off FreakSpace aka MySpace.

Posted by: Joe | February 15, 2007 3:33 PM

This new time of myspace is here to stay. Suing myspace for your lack of parenting skills isn't necessary. If anyone should be sued it should be the parents. 1 thing everyone is forgetting though is the 19 year old who pretended to be younger than he is. What's going to happen to him? Everyone claims to know what's really going on with their kids, yet I doubt this. Parents need to sit down and flat out break their little hearts with the harsh reality life is. Life is not all fun and games many horrible things happen EVERYDAY to good people. Let's not let our kids become so protected in their false sense of security. How about teaching them not to talk to strangers. Why was a 13 year old on myspace?! The parents need a harsh kick in the A**... as sad as that is. They need to worry about what should have come first-their daughters well being. Now she has a long hard road to go down due to her parents idiocracy.

Posted by: Kurt | February 15, 2007 3:34 PM

[quote]Please people! This CHILD made amistake and yes the parents are responsible for not being involved enough. BUT to talk like she DESERVED and even LOOKED to ne molested is SAD. Yes, teenagers have raging hormones - and they also lack the maturity to know what's best for them... that is why they NEED PARENTS to SUPERVISE. This CHILD did not DESERVE this![/quote]

The child got exactly what she wanted, or at least exactly what she asked for, this was a 19yo guy, not some 35yo pervert, girls these days look ridicuously old because their trashy parents let them dress like trashy $2 hookers. My bet is on the guy dumping her after sleeping with her because he figured out she wasn't 18 or something like that, and then the girl got pissed and told her parents that he attacked her, trying to get him in trouble, then the parents of course flipped out called the cops, and then look for a scapegoat to blame for their "little angel" being attacked. Stuff like this makes me want to get in politics so i can fight for laws to have people who are dumb enough to file lawsuits like this be thrown in jail for trying to abuse the system and waste everyone's time and taxpayer's money.

Posted by: Draxis | February 15, 2007 3:34 PM

FYI: Because I didn't believe it, I went and checked the Terms of Service on myspace.com -- it's limited to people 14 and over, NOT 18. Of course, that still means Julie lied about her age, but still, there are scads of "children" who are permitted to be on the site.

I agree with the judge's decision. However, I'm not sure I agree with many of the posters above that the proper response to online child predators is to take the children off of the internet -- or off of MySpace -- completely. Children will be exposed to various unsavory types in their lives; if not now then later in life. I think it's better to let them be on MySpace and teach them not to be stupid enough to meet strangers in private places or to give out too much personal information than to pull the plug from them completely. They have to learn how to watch their own backs sooner or later.

Posted by: DC in DC | February 15, 2007 3:36 PM

Yep, the perpetrator was at fault. We all agree with that.

The issue in this lawsuit was not "Who is at fault?" but rather "Who had the responsibility to protect the child from the perpetrator?".

The answer is "Her parents". Just like the Judge said.

Posted by: Doc | February 15, 2007 3:36 PM

MySpace, like many other internet "friend network" sites, have security controls. You can control what others can and cannot see in your profile. This is no different from the internet chat rooms, just a variant of the medium. I have a little sister who has profiles on MySpace, Facebook, etc. and I (along with my parents) have reminded her of the dangers of "strangers with candy." This is NOT a new concept. We were all taught a very young age, "Don't talk to strangers." I realize, that the younger generations have a leg up on their parents. I have met co-workers, classmates, and many other people who have kids of their own, but know little or nothing about how MySpace (or the Internet for that matter) operates. When something tragic happens, we often like to blame others for our own shortcomings as parents, employees, etc. "It's MySpace's fault" may have garnered a lawsuit, but the judgement was just. Talk to your kids. Ask what they're doing. Be nosy. Read up on MySpace. Restrict profile access. Get a "NetNanny" like program. Get involved. Be a part of your kids' lives. In short, be a good parent and remind your kids, "Don't take candy from strangers."

Posted by: Chris | February 15, 2007 3:39 PM

Why make things so complicated? Since our kids wasting so much time on myspace its parents fault. Parents who canno't achieve a simple task! Go to the "Tool" on the top toolbar, "Internet Options", "Privacy" and there an option to block specific web sites!!! You can even set up password. For god sake people, stop crying on your kids and teach them some discipline and in the same time educate yourself...

Posted by: Sergei | February 15, 2007 3:39 PM

i agree with the judge parents provide the kids with the computer and the net then blame others when the kids get into trouble what happened to parents knowing what their kids are doing and talking to ? i know my parents knew who i was with and when i was gone and where i was at all times if they had any doubts, they got up and looked in on me not just took my word for it , but thats what a parents job is.

Posted by: joella | February 15, 2007 3:40 PM

Following the logic of these parents (or non-parents), if my child shoplifts a candy bar from Walmart, I should sue Walmart for not monitoring the activities of my child during his/her entire visit to their store and for not securing their merchandise adequately to prevent my child from simply picking it up off a shelf. Walmart must be guilty of contributing to the delequency of my child by providing an atmosphere where abuses can happen. I am sure the parents gave their child a long "time-out" for her unwise use of the internet. I will leave that lack of effective disciplinary action for another discussion.

Posted by: Garry | February 15, 2007 3:41 PM

The Judge's ruling leaves legitimate parents a small sliver of a toe-hold on the ledge of common sense. Our growing national obsession of blaming others tends to invalidate the bigger and more important virture of personal responsibility. The fact is kids will be kids and this stuff will happen even when parents raise their children right. From my vantage point blaming others when these type things happen is easy to understand when their is pain and hurt, but far harder to justify. Pursuing others with big dollar lawsuits claiming breach of duty erodes common sense, undermines civility, and reduces us all to a level of irresponsibility that will coarsen society and damage relationships of all kinds, including the vital relationship between parent and child. If we don't deal with this issue now, or if left to inflame more and more of our culture, the consequences will take generations to reverse. Rarely do money damages solve much. They (especially) won't solve the absense of common sense. There is a cost for everything we do and there is no such thing as a perfect outcome. People make mistakes. At what point are we willing to say enough is enough? How much longer are we going to be willing to live with our creeping dose of "festering blameitis"? It is one ugly sucker and hardly becoming on the face of a nation beset with more than a few societal and cultural issues to deal with!

Posted by: Juan Kanobe | February 15, 2007 3:43 PM

My guess is most of you are not parents of preteen or teen kids and those who are have been lucky.

"I raised them to talk things out both together and with me, and I take part in their lives instead of letting the schools/tv/internet/day care do it for me." Admirable and very important, so did I. Sometimes, no matter what you do kids seem determined to fight boundaries.

Yes, I agree witth the judgse ruling HOWEVER, as a parent who fought to protect her daughter who was 'raised right' when myspace, schools and the public library fight to protect "freedom of speech" I can tell you, from my personal experience that it is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it can be a living hell.

I have three types of monitoring on our computers. That alone requries time to review/update and you better have an iron stomach if you're going to read that stuff. Many people criticized me for not allowing her privacy. (I suspect some of you would jump on THAT particular band wagon, too!). One guy she chatted with taught her how to work around the monitoring. These kids are savvy and believe that nothing bad will happen to them.

"I do not allow my child to be on myspace"
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! Truth is, you can't stop them and most experts will tell you that you shouldn't.

"Parents cannot expect schools and business to do the parenting of kids."
I signed papers not allowing my daughter access to a computer in school When I saw that she was online on myspace I contacted the school and asked how she could possibly be on the internet when she was supposed to be in class all they cared about was how I KNEW. It turns out she was in the library signed on to their system with a friend's id when she was supposed to be in class. The school responded as if I was a criminal for 'tracking' my child that way. She just moved over the public library instead.

The police can't do anything unless there is a specific 'threat'. Myspace would never respond, it is not their responsibility even when they've been notified that a 12 yr old is 'hooking up' with older guys on her profile. Their attitude is that it is not their problem.

It's very east to throw blame on the parents. God forbid you ever have to go through what I, and many other parents, have gone through. Yes, it's the parents responsibility and there are many parents out there like myself that fight every step of the way to protect the children, from themselves and from others. Most of the fighting is against schools, myspace and the public library when we should be working together. The world we live in makes it very hard for good parents to BE good parents.

When we try to limit library access or school access there is little support.

Doesn't society share some responsibility, too?

Posted by: a frustrated diligent parent | February 15, 2007 3:44 PM

Carrie, give me a break. Of course it's ultimately the child's decision and frankly, her stupidity. Even if her parents were stupid enough not to cover the basics like, "Don't take candy from strangers," "Don't get in cars with Strangers," "Don't believe anything that anyone tells you," etc etc, it's still impossible to ignore the rest of society telling them to think before acting.

Especially with strangers and with the internet. Schools, PSA, heck, even Myspace, has cautions and warnings about being careful. I have a hard time believing a child that age is that kind of naive in these days. Overconfident, curious and guilliable maybe but not naive.

Even if she wasn't planning on sexual activity she has to take steps to be safe. Meeting strangers that you met online privately frankly doesn't quality.

Posted by: KarKar | February 15, 2007 3:44 PM

"Do our kids and humanity a favor turn off FreakSpace aka MySpace.

Posted by: Joe | February 15, 2007 03:33 PM "

---------------------

Joe, we all realize that the perp should get hard time. No question. But to insinuate that a website is to blame is ridiculous. There was recently a man apprehended near my home-town for harassing women over pay phones. Should we outlaw phones? Someone was killed by a drunken driver. Should we outlaw alcohol? Or cars? No. This, "bury my head in the sand and hope my government protects me" attitude is what's wrong with society. It is NOT the law's job to protect us from being inept. Yes, this was a horrible crime that should by punished accordingly. But don't say a website should be shut down because of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 3:47 PM

I too agree with the judgement. When my child was younger I had her my space url and i read her site if I had questions or a bad vibe about someone communicating with her I questioned her. It was my responsibility to protect my child and know what she are doing. Seems to me the family structure has stopped communicating altogether and when something happens due to our lack of communication we try to pass the buck and try to use censorship as a means of control. That's sad.

Posted by: Delilah | February 15, 2007 3:49 PM

"Well, sure parents should have an eye on a 13 year old. Of course. But what about this liar Pete Solis who assaulted the girl? Has he no social responsibility here? Of course he does. He has a moral duty to leave children alone and not to do violence to other people. At 19, yes, he does."

Pete Solis went to jail. He clearly has a social responsibility and was punished for violating it.

This part of the proceeding isn't about Solis-- it's about if myspace should share some of the blame. If they sued Solis, they'd win easily. However, he doesn't have the money myspace does.

Posted by: Jordan | February 15, 2007 3:51 PM

a frustrated diligent parent,

"Most of the fighting is against schools, myspace and the public library when we should be working together. The world we live in makes it very hard for good parents to BE good parents.

When we try to limit library access or school access there is little support.

Doesn't society share some responsibility, too?"
----------------------------

Perhaps it's because you're too busy fighting the symptoms, rather then the cause of the problem.

WHY are your children trying to hook up with older guys?

This was a good ruling. Myspace has no obligation to police your children, nor should they.

Posted by: Jordan | February 15, 2007 3:56 PM

Whoever posted that nonsense about this being a class action suit is off-base. This was not a class action suit and this sort of claim would not be susceptible to disposition as such.

The ruling is available online at the WDT web site (in the CourtWeb database) if anyone cares to read it.

Posted by: Elvis | February 15, 2007 3:57 PM

I could not agree with the judgement any more if I tried. He is absolutely correct.

The internet comes with the most full proof monitoring system EVER, it's called involved parenting, and parental monitoring.

If more people tried it- then perhaps this entire era of thinking that the legal system and everyone else in the world should raise our child safely, instead of us, would be a thing of the past.

Posted by: Crystal | February 15, 2007 4:07 PM

It's nice too see the Judiciary taking the right course. Parents need to pay attention to their children and what their children do. Parents today don't parent, they expect the schools too, they expect business too. Parents need to open their eyes or not become parents to begin with.

Posted by: It's about time. | February 15, 2007 4:08 PM

I myself have grown a loathing of Myspace for some time now. I even joined that site, but I immediately stopped coming after the waves of teenage gossip stories and rumors that swarmed the site's members' bulletins. This is just another sad chapter in Myspace's history to be remembered by. I can only hope that the site is eventually shut down.

Regardless of the foolishness of the members and parents, this site is a major hazard for youth. The best decision is to shut down the site before any more of these tragedies become more frequent.

Posted by: Moddex | February 15, 2007 4:08 PM

Please go to the Austin Statesman and look this all up. It happened in Austin when I was living there. The child set up a date, was picked up from school by a stranger, went to a movie and dinner with the guy that assaulted her and the parent(s) had no knowledge. The girl is to blame, her parent(s) are to blame, but worse of all lawyers are to blame. Within 24 hours of this happening a law suit was filed... Were the lawyers waiting outside the hospital where the girl was most likely examined for rape??? The lawyers that filed this ridiculous lawsuit should be billed for all the time and effort this took away from the court system. And the girl's parent(s) should be jailed for neglect and abandonment... Parents parent your children. This all reminds me of the lawsuit against Ozzie Osbourne over the song "Suicide Solution", grieving parents looking to skirt responsibility but also cash in... at the expense of their child.

Posted by: Steven | February 15, 2007 4:08 PM

As i have already said, I believe that of course the judge is ABSOLUTELY right, but I will have to say that it isn't the easiest thing in the world to raise a child nowadays. The biggest part of the problem is of course, the parents, whether it's their lack of interaction with the child in general or the lack of creativity in thinking up punishments. With all this BS about child abuse and what not in today's world, the EXTREMELY bad parents are making it a nightmare for the middle-class parents. When I was growing up, if I did something bad enough to warrant it, I got my A** beat. Today, if you LOOK at a child wrong you get threatened with some sort of abuse. With technology today, home's are nowhere NEAR private enough, I'd almost bet money that a creative child could get on google and search for "ways to turn in parents for child abuse" give themselves or have their friends give them a few bruises, and next thing you know, we'd be hearing about them on the news.
Watch shows like WifeSwap and the many nanny shows, and notice how bad some of the extreme cases of this are, i can name like 5 different episodes where underage girls are posting pics of themselves almost nude on the internet.

As for you parents that are trying to say you can't control your kids, because even if you block them they can get on it anyways, well, maybe you should try being a parent instead of a judge/policeman. When you try to stop a kid from doing something instead of showing them why they shouldn't be doing something, all you're doing is making them look for otherways, if you don't have a healthy relationship with your kids, all that "sheltering" them is going to do is make them TRY to make you mad and do things against your wishes. Some would call it a cry for attention.

Posted by: Draxis | February 15, 2007 4:11 PM

It's the Digital Age people. When I was growing up we'd go out to the park and play with other kids for hours. Today, kids sit home in front of their computer screens bored out of their mind, getting fatter and lazier each year. I'm not speculating, I see that in my family as well. Parents would rather buy a Playstation for their kids to shut them up instead of spending time with them and actually being a parent.

As the law suit, it's America baby. Coffee is too hot, there is a finger in my soup, it didn't say not to put my hand in the blender... Everywhere else it's common sense. In America it will make you rich.

Nice job on the most obvious verdict there ever was.

Posted by: Slawek | February 15, 2007 4:15 PM

to say you have to let them on myspace because they will do it anyways is the reason so many kids are doing it. my child is not on myspace because i act like a parent & do my job.

Posted by: mom | February 15, 2007 4:17 PM

Not that I agree with doing this but I know that some folks set up fake alias online and tried to talk-up their kids. This was geez, back in the elder days of Compuserve and Aol chatrooms. Just to make sure that the kids were mature enough to handle it or turn to their parents when solicited/contacted. Also gave them peace of mind to know that their kids were savvy enough to know that not every idiot online is their friend and that they have basic guidelines for online-offline behavior.

Like I said, it's kind of manipulative and dishonest but they wanted to be sure that their kids could handle situations that do come up, like unsolicited friendships and creepy crap.

Posted by: KarKar | February 15, 2007 4:18 PM

Eligibility. Use of and Membership in the MySpace Services is void where prohibited. By using the MySpace Services, you represent and warrant that (a) all registration information you submit is truthful and accurate; (b) you will maintain the accuracy of such information; (c) you are 14 years of age or older; and (d) your use of the MySpace Services does not violate any applicable law or regulation. Your profile may be deleted and your Membership may be terminated without warning, if we believe that you are under 14 years of age.

Taken from Myspace's TOS agreement. The girl was in clear violation of the TOS agreement and therefor the entire lawsuit was null and void.

For that matter too, the parents should have seen all the reports on dateline. They should have blocked the website.

Posted by: Anthony | February 15, 2007 4:21 PM

It's the Digital Age people. When I was growing up we'd go out to the park and play with other kids for hours.

Posted by: Slawek | February 15, 2007 04:15 PM
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


It's more than just that Slawek, now we're more aware of how many pedeophiles were watching you play with the other kids in the park for hours. So people would rather have their kids home if they can't sit for hours in the park watching them play well with others. I bet even then that your parents talk you basic safety rules too. Don't go off with people you don't know, don't tell them where you live and where the secret key under a rock is, etc.

Well, the same stuff applies. Regardless of how your kids interact with people outside your family, there are basic safety rules. They need to be aware that the world is scary and that they need to take protective if common sense measures. If you want to make friends/date/whatever that's fine but you do it safely. And if it's not what you expected and if they lied, you leave.

Posted by: KarKar | February 15, 2007 4:24 PM

No, myspace can not police all of it's users. However parents can talk to their kids about sexual predators. If you think your child is old enough to surf the internet unristricted and unaccompanied, then there shouldn't be an issue with discussing that topic. Besides my parents always warned me about strangers. What? do we not do that anymore or something? maybe instead of "don't take candy from strangers" it should be "don't add strangers to your friend list" Or, and this is a stretch because I realize most parents are not good with technology, set your parental controls on your browser and restrict access to myspace. Why does a 13 year old need to network socially anyway?

Posted by: formlessness | February 15, 2007 4:24 PM

maybe this will be a wake up call to parents to start taking responsibility for their children... and people in general to start taking responsibility for themselves...

Posted by: stefan | February 15, 2007 4:27 PM

Yeah I've got kids and yes they do stupid things more as a result of immaturity and not thiniing through the consequences. I absolutely agree with the judge on this one. Could this have been prevented with better parental supervision? Maybe maybe not..friends could have provided the computer. Communication is the key to limiting these situations from happening; and it was certainly lacking here. However the judge made the absolute right judgement call here and it's about time a message is sent that people are responsible for their own actions and that instead of pointing the finger they might just want to take a look in the mirror. Shame on you parents for pushing this frivolous lawsuit instead of thinking how could we have done a better job of protecting our daughter?

Posted by: Working dad... | February 15, 2007 4:29 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with the judge. As the parent of two teens, I'm well aware of the dangers of MySpace. And so are my teens. Any 13 year old who is on the MySpace site is old enough to know the consequences of their Internet actions. It's not easy being a parent these days, but parents of teens must be vigilant. Many parents are too self-absorbed these days. They'd rather indulge their own interests from morning til night instead of taking the time to get to know their kids, to understand what may be troubling them, and to observe uncharacteristic behavior. That said, Solis belongs in jail and hopefully he'll be there for a long time. But suing MySpace is not the answer for the parents. Spending more time with their daughter is.

Posted by: Paula | February 15, 2007 4:34 PM

I agree with the judge completely.

However, i think that we need more ways to teach parents about things that they werent raised knowing about.

You cannot simply forbid a teenage to go somewhere, because more than likely they will find a way to get there. How many of you have snuck out?

Parents need to develop trust and understanding about their teens owning accounts to such websites. Myspace, Friendster, facebook and other social networking sites are here to stay and not only is it the "in" thing, but they are shaping and developing today's youth. Today's youth is more networked and interconnected via electronic mediums.

Parents need to understand it, and help their children to have proper judgement with it.

Just like we tell kids not to do drugs or smoke. We need to teach kids not to trust everyone on the internet or be too liberal with their private information.

Posted by: Sean | February 15, 2007 4:35 PM

I agree with the judge! Why did parenting responsibilities stop with cell phones and computers? We raised our daughter without a computer in her room and no cell phone. She is doing quite well with no emotional damage from the monitoring of technology at home.
The internet is just another communication medium and how it is used is up to society. I'm tired of irresponsible parents blaming someone else for their children's problems. Try love, hugs, patience, and open communication. Then maybe we won't have so many teenagers with self-worth so low they resort to MySpace to find attention.

Posted by: Larry | February 15, 2007 4:38 PM

I consider myself socially liberal, legislatively conservative, and I recognize that as a contrast to those who are socially conservative and legislatively liberal (wanting to make a lot of laws that would ram negative-Christianity down our throats, and reach deep into our very bodies and bedrooms.) Also, I am a Christian, just not an in-your-face and let-me-tell-you-the-one-way-to-be kind. That said, I agree with the judge. It is always the parents responsibility, even though our American business culture (Capitalism) makes the job of protecting and guiding our children damn hard, really damn hard.

Posted by: Sarah S | February 15, 2007 4:38 PM

I agree with the judge. I personaly hate myspace and would love to see it fall, however, if we don't enforce pornographic websites from confirming age more than mearly clicking "Yes I'm over 18 years of age" how can we expect myspace to do this. When myspace is used primarily to keep in touch of friends.

Posted by: Josh | February 15, 2007 4:40 PM

Did someone say they had to pay for myspace.

For the amount of money I pay to MySpace every month, I expect the company not only to discern my child's lies and irresponsible behavior, but to feed and cloth her as well.

From what I know, the only way myspace makes money is advertising. You don't pay them unless you click them. I don't understand how this is a valid point.

Posted by: Whoa Whoa | February 15, 2007 4:41 PM

In as much as it hurts to admit, and in as much as I feel for the victims, one has to admit the Judge is right. Parents have to STOP abdicating their parental responsibilities to government, and become parents again, period.

Posted by: hhtp://OsiSpeaks.com, http://OsiSpeaks.org | February 15, 2007 4:41 PM

Did someone say they had to pay for myspace.

-----------------------
For the amount of money I pay to MySpace every month, I expect the company not only to discern my child's lies and irresponsible behavior, but to feed and cloth her as well.
-------------------------
From what I know, the only way myspace makes money is advertising. You don't pay them unless you click them. I don't understand how this is a valid point.

Posted by: Whoa Whoa | February 15, 2007 4:42 PM

I agree with the judge. He made the right call in releasing myspace from any culpability. Being a member of the Internet generation, I know how easy it is to be irresponsible on myspace. Having a parent constantly over my shoulder, monitoring my every move on the web is not the way to solve this. If anything that would cause a rift to form between my parents and myself. I agree that the parents could have done more than just sue myspace over this, but I remember being 13 and trying new things that I didn't want my parents to know about. Point being the only way to prevent something like this from happening is to either learn, or be taught how to avoid it by someone. Unfortunately for Jane, this was a learning experience. A painful one, but now she knows.

Posted by: Howie | February 15, 2007 4:44 PM

Agree that the primary responsiblity is with the parents and that they need to tell the kis how dangerous and unreliable it is to meet people on internet. In addition, I think it will be good to require social network site to post a warning to this effect...

Posted by: Don | February 15, 2007 4:45 PM

My kids both have Myspace accounts. I don't. But what I do have is a FreeBSD server in my basement that I built with squid as a proxy server and every URL that gets requested get's logged. I know where they're surfing on the net. I can go back historically thru every page, link request, etc. Most parents aren't tech savvy, but I am and I use the same methods at home to police my kids that I use at work to police our users.

A lot of parents aren't keen on parenting. I keep close tabs on my kids without making them feel like I'm intruding. There's a fine line to walk with today's youth if you want to make sure they keep confiding in you.

I'm also not afraid to lay some discipline down like some parents are. If they only knew the kind of hands on discipline that I had gotten as a kid...

Posted by: Phil | February 15, 2007 4:46 PM

I totally agree with this judge. I knew a friend who has literally had his life ruined because of actions like this. Even though the girl lied about her age she really looks, acts, and gets people to believe she is 18 when in fact she is 15. Now this kid is going through counseling and $15,000 later I don't think his life is going all that well either but he's accepting his responsibilities and doing is best to prove to everyone else he is not some child abusive sex offender. By the way his charge is with a minor not with a child. Where were her parents? why won't they monitoring her life so they could see these kinds of actions? Where were they when she was intimate with the two older males that she confessed too? Her parents just wanted to blame someone else for her daughters actions. Don't get me wrong I think everyone was a victim in this case and I think there was a lot of damaging factors in it but it's just so wrong for people to blame there problems on other people rather then there own parenting skills. Sorry to seem so pissed but it bothers me that in todays world everyone is greedy or trying to place their blame on someone else.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 4:49 PM

I think the judge made the right decision, and I agree in principle with most of the prior comments.

However, at the risk of having fire rained down on me, I also blame the girl. True, she's only 13. But Darwin explained it all to us, and it's non-negotiable. We have to accept nature's operating principles.

A child who puts herself in harm's way is breaking the rules of common sense, and even though we humans would like to insulate her from her mistake, we can't. She has to do some of that herself. (Darwin, pages 1 - 1000).

God doesn't make exceptions for children. She of course didn't deserve what she got, but neither does any member of any species that doesn't make it. We can't blame MySpace and we can't blame the parents. We can't blame her, either.

All we can do is observer that mistakes have consequences and nowhere is it written that any child has a right to break the rules and survive. Parents, tell your children...


Posted by: John Holmes | February 15, 2007 4:49 PM

Kudos to a wise judge for throwing out this example of trash lawsuits. It's as silly as the people who sue E-bay because the baseball cards they bought there were fakes. The Internet is a great portal to the outside world: Use it wisely, and be responsible for your actions.
When I was a teen the closest thing to a chat room we had was the CB radio. I would have never gone to meet a stranger I met there, my parents drilled some common sense into me. My kids would not go and meet someone from MySpace either! Common sense, please, not lawsuits for your stupidity!

Posted by: Jim | February 15, 2007 4:55 PM

As much as my instincts as a parent compel me to scream out in horror at this ruling against the family, I have to agree with it. There's no question that what happened to 'Julie Doe' is a horrible thing for her and her parents to have to endure. But to lay the blame for it at the feet of MySpace (which just so happens to have really deep pockets), is not only wrong, it's irresponsible. All of the blame lies with the rapist, period, and launching this lawsuit only detracts from society's proper focus on this criminal's behavior.

Suing MySpace in this context is no different than suing your local newspaper because you answered a classified ad for a car and ended up buying a lemon with faulty brakes. I don't really know how the girl's lie about her age at registration factors into this legally, but I'm sure it didn't help.

I say this hoping my words never come back to haunt me, but this whole MySpace lawsuit is yet another example of frustrated parents blaming pop culture (Ozzy Osbourne in the 80's, Beavis and Butthead in the 90's, the Internet today) for not exercising greater control and discretion over what their children are doing.

Heaven forgive me for laying blame on top of misery, but the judge was right when he said that the duty to protect Julie Doe was her parents'.

Posted by: ned | February 15, 2007 5:08 PM

So, this court case wasn't so much for MySpace, but for all online communities. I myself am not a MySpace fan, as I think they do nothing to help protect its users
However, this call was a necessary one.  Although social networking
sites should do what they can to help protect its users, they can't be held
responsible for lousy parenting!
In today's society, everyone is always trying to blame someone else, or sue
someone else.  No one takes the blame for what they've done and the
mistakes they've made to cause badness.  And who pays the price? Well,
sadly, one of the people who pays the price is kids.  What happened to the
day when parents' top priority was their kids?  Nowadays, parents are more
concerned with money and the "easy way out", than taking care of their kid.
Why on earth was a 13 year old girl able to talk to some stranger online,
meet with him, without her parents ever knowing? Yes, the guy is a scoundrel. 
Yes, she was just a little girl.  But why weren't her parents there to
protect her? Why weren't they there to know exactly what she's doing online,
talk to her, find out why she feels the need to meet people online (probably
lonely, not many friends at school, not many boys interested in her at school,
etc.).  And not just confronting her and telling her "you're grounded, no
more internet".  They need to find out the cause of her feeling she
needs to do this, and try to help.
Lastly, not every guy online is a scoundrel.  Maybe this Pete Solis was,
but if the girl's parents had been there to talk to her, and maybe even offer to
go meet this guy with her - what kind of guy who's looking to assault a 13 year
old would agree to that? He would bail out in a second, while on the other hand
any guy who has a shred of decency would accept.  That's the other problem
with parents these days - they automatically assume the worst, and of course
teenagers know this.  So the teenager has no way of trusting their parent,
because they know that just bringing this up with them will mean "no more
internet".
So, the real issue here is, why are parents allowing their young girls to get
conned online, and what are we doing to resolve this issue?

Posted by: Marcos Boyington | February 15, 2007 5:12 PM

I too agree with the decision.

What next...will the parents try to sue the manuafacturer of the car she was picked up in?

The only way to stop frivolous lawsuits is to force people to step up and take responsibility for their actions and the actions of those they are responsible for.

What happened is a tragedy, no doubt. But the girl was a victim of a predator, and bad parenting, not the internet.

Posted by: Brian | February 15, 2007 5:18 PM

What I don't get is why people are singling out MySpace for sexual predators.

After finding this kind of scum in the parks selling ice cream, leading Scouts, teaching our kids and preaching in services, don't we just a$$ume that they're everywhere and teach our kids accordingly?

No matter where they go and whoever they meet, they're a potential predator/nutjob. So we teach our kids basic precaution/safety.

Posted by: A9kf0 | February 15, 2007 5:23 PM

To the comment about a guy wanting to assault a 13-yr old, Dateline has made a lucrative business out of people looking to sexually assult young children.

How do we know that these people really are over- or under-age? Or if they really have a fortune waiting in Nigeria if we give them our bank account number.

We don't so we have to take basic safety precautions and use some common sense. Unfortunately Julie Doe didn't.

Posted by: Kar | February 15, 2007 5:27 PM

A few rednecks lookin for a $30 million lottery ticket. they should be ashamed of themselves. I feel bad for the girl but it seems much more likely that the parents were upset and looking for a scapegoat and a handout. Maybe they should try a little more parenting and less finger pointing ... unless it's in the mirror.

Posted by: Aaron | February 15, 2007 5:34 PM

Well, was the 13y.o. hot?

Posted by: combatmage | February 15, 2007 5:58 PM

When the original story hit the news, I wrote a blog about it, basically saying that the parents are the ones responsible, and to hold Myspace accountable for what happened was insane... you might as well hold the cell phone provider responsible as well if he called her.

It's nice to see that not only the judge has the common sense to throw the case out, but everyone else on here agrees with what I'd originally written. Most of you have restored at least a little bit of my faith in humanity.

Posted by: SilverLeaf Ivy | February 15, 2007 6:02 PM

How about a little sentence add-on for people who use the internet to commit their crimes? Say, an extra 10 years for the guy who went on-line to seduce this gir?

Posted by: Dave | February 15, 2007 6:08 PM

myspace is simply evil, if you use the service, your just adding to it. the worst thing ever developed for the internet. both design wise, and for human interaction.

theres a reason newscorp owns it too, its a monopoly, u cannot interact without creating your own pedophile account.

die myspace. its been too long.

Posted by: ugh | February 15, 2007 6:33 PM

The majority of people that have kids should not be doing so. Just because one can breed doesn't mean they should.

No one parents as both are working full time to fulfill their "american dream" of possessions and greed.

Kids are just another form of possession, like a dog or a car and after awhile, the owner tires of said possession and moves onto something else.

Until people learn that having kids requires 1000% of their energy, time, love and willingness to educate them to prevent them from becoming just another future welfare recipient, they should refrain from having kids.

Posted by: me | February 15, 2007 6:53 PM

you wanna have kids?

you need to be a parent.

don't blame your bad parenting on a website...


(and i do wonder if this girl was "completely innocent" in this...)

Posted by: ken | February 15, 2007 6:54 PM

It is discomforting to see that a site used for communication can be so easily manipulated into a site for sexual predators.

Posted by: Callmebyron | February 15, 2007 7:02 PM

It's wonderful to say parents are responsible. I agree.

Myspace's crime is that not only do they not provide any way for a parent to limit access, they actually go out of their way to prevent it.

As a responsible parent, my desire for myspace is simple...I want to block it from all the PC's in my house. I own the PC's, I own the house, and they are trespassing.

However, try to block it and you encounter a conspiracy with hundreds of proxy servers set up to circumvent blocking it. I purchased the newblocker.com product and it has to block over 400 URL's to keep myspace out. I actually pay money to keep that POS site off the property.

Myspace needs to offer something, perhaps a special cookie that the parent can place on the PC to lock them out. The virtual equivalent of forcing guns manufacturers to provide trigger locks.

Myspace actively tries to circumvent the ability of the parent to control access. They are no better than if a cigarette company tried to sell smokes to my kids from my driveway.

Note to Rupert...I actively avoid all your other products because of myspace.

Posted by: responsible parent | February 15, 2007 7:05 PM

It's wonderful to say parents are responsible. I agree.

Myspace's crime is that not only do they not provide any way for a parent to limit access, they actually go out of their way to prevent it.

As a responsible parent, my desire for myspace is simple...I want to block it from all the PC's in my house. I own the PC's, I own the house, and they are trespassing.

However, try to block it and you encounter a conspiracy with hundreds of proxy servers set up to circumvent blocking it. I purchased the newblocker.com product and it has to block over 400 URL's to keep myspace out. I actually pay money to keep that POS site off the property.

Myspace needs to offer something, perhaps a special cookie that the parent can place on the PC to lock them out. The virtual equivalent of forcing guns manufacturers to provide trigger locks.

Myspace actively tries to circumvent the ability of the parent to control access. They are no better than if a cigarette company tried to sell smokes to my kids from my driveway.

Note to Rupert...I actively avoid all your other products because of myspace.

Posted by: responsible parent | February 15, 2007 7:07 PM

There are a lot of comments saying how "myspace is bad" or that "myspace should be shut down." I personally think these comments are somewhat ludicrous; to shut down an entire business because of a case like this is actually more likely to cause some sort of social upheaval than a sigh of relief. Being a high school student myself, I realize that myspace is becoming more and more corrupt, and I am not a fan of it myself. Hackers and advertisers regularly trick users into "giving their password" and end up advertising spam through their accounts. And yet, people continue to use this site, and why? They think it's fun. It gives them something to do in their free time, a way to communicate with friends, and for some sick, twisted people, a way to trick people.

But, 99% of its 100 million+ userbase, use it as a completely harmless way to spend time, uploading pictures and leaving comments for their friends. By taking away something that gives these teens something to do in their free time, they aren't magically going to pick up a book, or ride a bike; instead, they will more likely than not decide to go out and drink, maybe smoke up a little, then hang out downtown while under the influence.

As for the < 1% of the users that use myspace to pick up younger girls, they will find a way, another site or method, to do what they have been doing already. Myspace is only brought to our attention because it is such a huge enterprise; other sites are probably also being used as we speak to do these same things.

Posted by: Darryl | February 15, 2007 7:10 PM

We live in a free society and businesses have every right to resort to legal means (as Myspace is doing) to entice customers. It is parents' fundamental responsibility to teach their children morals, virtues, ethics and right from wrong. Parents who fail in this are the ones who should be sued along with their lawyers to deter such frivilous lawsuits in the future. Parenting is a privilege and NOT a right.

Posted by: MightierPen | February 15, 2007 7:26 PM

The judge is absolutely right on about this one. Whatever happened to personal reponsibility?

Posted by: JJ | February 15, 2007 7:46 PM

The judges decision is 100 percent true. The internet is an open avenue for information and communication and shutting MySpace down wouldn't put a stop to the petafiles at all. It would jus put a stop to the communication of many friends and family who wouldn't have connected otherwise. People just need to educate children on safety and cautious social networking procedures. I'm 18 years old and have been socializing on the internet since I was 11... as long as the child is aware of what's out there he or she will be safe on the internet.

Posted by: Alisha | February 15, 2007 7:53 PM

I disagree with this ruling. While parents should be more responsible for their children, MySpace is a growing nest for child predators, and MySpace is not doing enough to monitor the safety of children online. Perhaps it should be only for ages 18 and up because of this. But MySpace should step up their actions to pursue online predators...and lawsuits like this being tossed out will result in more children being stalked online.

Posted by: Drew | February 15, 2007 8:05 PM

Dear "responsible parent";

I don't think MySpace is actively "coming onto your property", Myspace is not circumventing anything. Maybe umm -- your children are circumventing your attempts to keep them away from myspace.com. Maybe you should talk to them, have a chat about why they want to participate in myspace?

Posted by: Jay | February 15, 2007 8:05 PM

Does anyone else realize that both of the people in the are still in their TEENS. That other guy is an idiot but he still is very young. They both probrably thought that it was cool to hook up. I remember being a teenager too. The parents need to take responisiblaty for their 13 year old not myspace.

Posted by: sara | February 15, 2007 8:07 PM

When I was a kid (I'm 21 and independent now), and I used AIM or such, my parents very nosy as hell and never left me alone....ever. And they were both busy managing their landscaping company...so good call on the judge's part. And to mother of three, If you believe that you are too busy sometimes to watch the kids safety, you should possibly consider putting one or two of your kids up for adoption because apparently you don't have the capability to handle 3 kids. 'Nuf said.

Posted by: Chad L. | February 15, 2007 8:14 PM

When I was a kid (I'm 21 and independent now), and I used AIM or such, my parents very nosy as hell and never left me alone....ever. And they were both busy managing their landscaping company...so good call on the judge's part. And to mother of three, If you believe that you are too busy sometimes to watch the kids safety, you should possibly consider putting one or two of your kids up for adoption because apparently you don't have the capability to handle 3 kids. 'Nuf said.

Posted by: Chad L. | February 15, 2007 8:15 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

So true!

"If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace."

Parents needs to stop using MySpace.com as their crutch for negligent parents.

Get a clue, or stop having children.

Posted by: Nancy C. of Los Angeles, CA | February 15, 2007 8:15 PM

This ruling shows again just how much power Rupert Murdoch has in the USA. It doesn't matter if he is honest in his dealings, he has the politicians and the law wrapped around his finger.

Posted by: Mel Baker | February 15, 2007 8:16 PM

I'm scared of the dark.

Posted by: Little Timmy | February 15, 2007 8:18 PM

Three cheers for the Judge! People need to get a clue, if you don't want to do parenting, DON'T HAVE CHILDREN!
Parents have to take more responsiblity for the actions and judgements of their offspring ... period.

Posted by: garey johnson | February 15, 2007 8:28 PM

Parents cant keep track of their children at all times, no matter how hard they try. Children can spend up to 8 hours at school, which is a signifigant portion of the day when the parent is not around. Just about every school has computers that are connected to the internet and most have little to no supervision while the children use the computers. Its not fair to ask teachers to be babysitters and its not feasible for parents to sit at their childs school all day and watch them.

Therefore restrictions must be in place on those computers to protect the children from things like porn and pedophiles on websites such as Myspace.


Posted by: Arian Smith | February 15, 2007 8:54 PM

"People could certify themselves/profiles online so that we could have safer communities"

that is not freedom. this is America and we must fight for freedom. net anonymity is crucial to freedom. don't you realize the U.S. Govt is already stealing your freedoms and pushing a globalist New World Order agenda down our collective throats? don't help those murdering bastards fulfil their goals! fight now for freedom now, while you can, and by any means you can!

Posted by: Kal | February 15, 2007 8:58 PM

I agree with the judge. And that MySpace should counter-sue. And I don't really like MySpace that much. Pity, stupidity isn't taxed or illegal, but we all have our moments - how long before we we'd all be felons?

For all those posting that society (got a billing address for that?) has a responsibility to protect children (and/or all citizens?!), I have a question. Who do you think will protect your child better, an inherently amoral entity (as if any non-human entity such as a rock or a machine or a corporation could have morals) commonly referred to as the government, or you, the parents? Why not just give your kids up for adoption now if you think the government can do a better job?

If we're going to ask society to pay for raising our kids, we better get an address to send the bill to... Or maybe it would just be easier for those of us who care to raise our own kids right. So which are you? One who cares or one who sells their kids to society?

Posted by: Richard | February 15, 2007 9:04 PM

Amen! Finally a judge with some common sense!

Posted by: David W., San Diego | February 15, 2007 9:30 PM

Order of culpability is:
1. the perpetrator
2. myspace
3. parents

There are too many people looking to harm, and the Internet is crawling with perverts. MySpace caters to minors while generating profit. Good businesses ensure their customers' well being when using their products or services. If you build a business that caters to minors, then you are obligated to protect them from harm.

Tell me schools are absolved from providing minor students a safe environment, I dare you.

Parents need to parent, granted. Unfortunately, just about anyone can be a parent. Children should not suffer because they have bad parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 9:40 PM

Parents are the ones who should be monitoring their child's activities, not the owner(s) of cyberspace sites. When it comes to the fact that parents are afraid of their own children, or prefer to give their care and the associated concern for these young people over to someone else, the world is quickly losing its moral responsibility. If anyone should be "sued for wrongdoing", it is the PARENTS, not the owners of the internet space. WAKE UP FOLKS!! YOU ARE THE ONES RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHILDREN, NOT ANYONE ELSE!! If you didn't want the children in the first place, you should've been more careful when you were "playing around" with the opposite sex. For better or worse, you are now a parent, so TRY TO ACT LIKE IT!! God help your child as he/she grows older. They were in trouble the day they were born, poor things.

Posted by: Concerned | February 15, 2007 10:33 PM

Just one more example of the rights of the individual being subbordinated to the rights of the corporations to make profits. This type of regulation is all the Republicans have been doing for the past six years. Are we surprised? Should we be? What about the people who spent 15 hours in airplanes on a runway today and have no claim because FAA regulations say they don't? This is what it means to be a Republican. This is what Republicans believe, Capitalism cures all. Yeah Capatilism.

Posted by: Paul Bogdanich, Portland, Oregon | February 15, 2007 10:35 PM

Order of culpability is NOT perpetrator, MySpace, THEN Parents...

Idiot... schools are not MORE responsible than parents for their children. They are responsible for the children specifically left IN THEIR CARE... BY THE PARENTS! If your kid got conned into going with a stranger they met on the sidewalk walking somewhere, is the CITY responsible because they own the sidewalk? Nor should MySpace be responsible for children whose parents have not taught them the sense not to 1) consult them in situations where they think they WANT to meet someone in person they met online, 2) realize that some people online aren't what they claim to be. We ALL have heard stories like this. Parents need to me more involved.

BTW... MySpace DOES post general warnings about being cautious of other members. That's all they can do. It's not meant to be a place for people to do more than ONLINE SOCIALIZE.

You're right about one thing... children should not suffer because they have bad parents. So the answer? We need to start going after parents who are clearly neglectful. If they can't be responsible, they need to face some sort of penalty. These two parents simply wanted to 1) point the finger at EVERYONE but themselves, and 2) try to make themselves rich in the martyrdom process... too bad MySpace can't sue THEM.

Posted by: Petah | February 15, 2007 10:36 PM

If MySpace must monitor such things, so must Amazon.com monitor reviews, books, and the rest, as must the Washington Post must monitor its blogs.

The judge was right.

While the parents are not guilty of molestation, they are culpable of bad parenting.

--Brockeim
http://brockeim.blogspot.com

Posted by: Brockeimia: A blog where the ordinary becomes romantic | February 15, 2007 10:38 PM

The problem is the legal system that rewards lawyers who sue on anything, particularly deep pockets.

I think Myspace is a garbage site, but in this sexual assault case, it is merely a bulletin board and forwarder for the aggressor and the victim, much as a cell phone might be;

once cannot assume that Myspace administrators observe all actions on the site, and then send out people in the real world to see how this 19 yr old met up with the 13 yr old; that's insane. The 19 yr old will go to prison, but it should not be a huge pay day for the parents of the victim.

Posted by: Karl | February 15, 2007 10:43 PM

The only people who are responsible for the stupidity of today's youth are today's parents & guardians. I'm happy the judge ruled as he did, there's no way MySpace could verify 100% each of the millions of people who use the site. If people don't want kids running around strutting their stuff to everyone and their mama then they should teach them a better way. Hell, walking through a local department store they had giant posters of CHILDREN (not teens and pre-teens) in teeny-tiny swimsuits and 'come hither' poses. Yeah, that's what I want my four year doing.

Posted by: Adrienne | February 15, 2007 11:00 PM

Rose:

Wake up! Your comment "I don't blame her at all," scares me. Do you really believe she, at thirteen, bares no responsibility for her actions? Posted by: Rose | February 15, 2007 03:05 PM

I think Draxis comment was right on the money, "The child got exactly what she wanted, or at least exactly what she asked for, ... girls these days look ridiculously old because their trashy parents let them dress like trashy $2 hookers. My bet is on the guy dumping her after sleeping with her because he figured out she wasn't 18 or something like that, and then the girl got pissed and told her parents that he attacked her, trying to get him in trouble, then the parents of course flipped out called the cops, and then look for a scapegoat to blame for their 'little angel' being attacked." Posted by: Draxis | February 15, 2007 03:34 PM

Good call Judge!

Posted by: Tact2Mac | February 15, 2007 11:07 PM

"...the lawyers went to these parents and told the parents that if they win they will get $millions and if the parents lose in court the parents won't lose a dollar since the class action lawyers usually work for free.

The parents were just pawns, all the parents did was let their names be used on a piece of paper filed with the courts, that was probably their extent of dealings with this entire case...."

Interesting point. So...the parents couldn't possibly be expected to have known the ramifications of signing a legal document, any more than they could be expected to know what their child was doing in her spare time? Again, this is unfortuately exactly the type of rationale that a lot of society now uses--"How was I supposed to know," "It wasn't my fault," "I couldn't have done anything to prevent it."

Posted by: Allison | February 15, 2007 11:31 PM

absolutely.
in an age where responsibility becomes a liability, the
judgement calls upon the necessity of personal and
group responsibilty to affect change.
if parents are willing to bring children into this world but dont have the time to devote to their welfare-should they be held accountable for neglect?
i applaud the decisions that affects the future
of youth to take personal responsibiltiy for their actions,
and of their guardians indifference.
do we need to wait until crisis strikes??.

Posted by: richard | February 16, 2007 12:01 AM

I do not like the web site MySpace for other reasons (any engineer knows what I mean), but these parents are stupid. I think MySpace should counter-sue the parents for court costs.

Posted by: Eric | February 16, 2007 12:15 AM

Good Judge. Maybe he should have that child put in protective custody from her parents neglect.

Posted by: Justme | February 16, 2007 1:39 AM

These are always unfortunate cases. The child ren were ultimately hurt because the parents chose not to keep on eye on them.

This isn't a matter of it is better for the parents to do the parenting so much as it is a nod the the impossibility of myspace screening in a manner which is wholly effective.

There will always be a few predators that sneak in; pretending like myspace is capable of catching all of them is a great way to insure that those who manage to get in will have easy access to victims.

Posted by: Thomas | February 16, 2007 1:45 AM

A rational Judge....well that is news.
If he keeps making sensible judgements tho he's sure to be replaced.

Hopefully he'll last long enough to preside over the parents next lawsuit against the restaurant that permitted them to eat together and the movie house that permitted them to see a movie together
Not to mention the owner of the parking lot....

It is pointless blaming anyone other then the direct cause of the problem, the 19yo male. Who should be placed in an induced coma until we learn enough about the brain to fix the problem he has with wanting underage girls. He's not a bad person, hes brain is just badly wired. We are quick to identify phyical deformaties, hopefully one day we can detect and correct these kind of mental ones too.


Posted by: Adam | February 16, 2007 5:20 AM

As an IT professional and the father of 5 children, I must say that ALL parties are responsible in "some" way.

MySpace, unfortunately, is only a reflection of what America has allowed itself to become - malicious amounts of intrusive advertising to malicious people who prey upon others. No, MySpace, is not responsible for neither the heinous act of a stupid 19 year old or the lack of common sense on the part of a dumb 13 year old, nor is MySpace responsible for the perceived lack of parenting skills ... but society as a whole is.

This great nation of ours has allowed itself to be misled by the notion that virtually everything is acceptable. While I'm not a prude and do believe, in some respects, that America has been too puritanical, it has also absolved itself of any accountability when it comes to "right" and "wrong" on an individual level. Thus, we now have corporate entities touting from a veil of commercialism what is right, what is wrong and what is acceptable and as such few individuals seem to display having a moral or ethical compass.

Today, parents and children, have everything stacked against them, from the flood of new technologies, to the spiraling cost of living, to the disintegration of the nuclear family (it's now a sad fact that married couples are the minority with respect to households containing children). If you combine these issues with the constant barraging commercial message of "worship this clueless celebrity," it is no great wonder that the youth of America are lacking true direction and ability to employ a modicum of common sense.

Realistically, what teenager "needs" internet access or a cell phone?? The answer, of course, would be none. Sure, one can always make the argument that there are cases where it's warranted, but those cases are not the norm for the whole of our society.

Long story short, there are a great number of issues involved and ALL living generations are responsible for allowing the "ills of society" to become so pervasive. The only way to make a difference is to become involved and work towards effective changes that result in our nation heading back towards "the middle of the road."

Posted by: The Old Guard | February 16, 2007 5:54 AM

There is a guy in Ireland named Pat McKenna. He runs an organisation that deals with online sexual predators that attack children. He gave a 3 Hr presentation which I attended. There were presentations from the police and other child agencies as well.

He showed us how a sexual predator from an organized gang infiltrates a social network site, identifies a very young user (11 in this demo), then spiders hundreds of links in a tree of related home pages. Then cross references data to identify school friends, kids in close geographic locations, related children such as cousins, brothers and sisters etc.

A female assistant hooked up with some of the kids on IM and managed to get three of them to download a codec onto the computers so that they could see a video of ****** ********* singing live. The codec was also a trojan that recorded their keystrokes and on another computer we were able to watch what the children were typing in parallel conversations with other frinds.

Later just before finishing, one of the kids family members bought an item online and in front of us comes up his credit card information - the lot.

Last demo was to pursuade one of the children to go offline and text and send photos over the mobile phone.

Inside three hours they had a list of kids to target with lots of information about each of them, they had broken into the computers that some of these kids were using, they got one girl onto a mobile phone and stopped the whole demo when she agreed to send a photo of herself with her skirt lifted.

This stuff is really scary when you see it live in front of you. It didn't appear to be staged or anything because they offered to target a computer being used in one of the audience members own homes.

What I am saying here is just a fraction of what they showed. The point is this.

Everyone loves social networking. These guys doing the preso have kids on Bebo and MySpace as well. But to blame parents for the woes of the internet is not fair.

That presentation and demo sickened me because I am a computer technician and while I know the theory and some of the practice of computer hacking, no parent or child would have a chance against guys with this level of knowledge.

Trying to screw MySpace for millions is crap, but blaming parents for all that is wrong in a childs world is not realistic either. If this professional targeted any of you guys on this blog, would your system survive without being penetrated? And if he got at you online bank account or your credit card, would you blame your parents? And if they learned enough about you to watch you at the local swimming pool, would you blame your parents? If they bundled you into a car and took you to a secluded spot and raped and murdered you, would you blame your parents? The point that this guy kept returning to was that an attacker can get a child, befriend a child, and get teen to perform on a web cam for pay, give them cash for doing it by sending a pre paid visa card, run a stable children doing all kinds of this without mommy or daddy ever knowing what is going on.

Point is this: we stop kids from having alcohol because adults judge that this should be so. The shop keeper complies with that law.

The technology is available to identify and protect children online, just as it can protect adults. But it wont protect anyone if the social sites dont implement it.

I want to see MySpace and Bebo and others go on as they are without regulation. At some stage a child will be lost to an attack by one of these sicko's and regulation will occur. Already there are moves in some states in the US and Europe to tackle privacy on the web.

Give the parents a break because really and trully, none of us know what the hell we are talking about.

Oh BTW - the demo was by Phaedra. I think it is online??

Regards, Pete

Posted by: Pete | February 16, 2007 6:36 AM

I have three children, all of which have a my-space account. I moniter what goes on with them on a weekly basis. It isn't that hard. I have heard of too many bad things going on within the internet world that I felt I needed to step up and see what is going on in THEIR world. IT IS scary no doubt. One of my son's friend's was suspended from school cause he was holding an air-soft gun in a picture and titled it "mess with me, your gonna get it." THAT is a terroristic threat coming from a 13-year-old.
As for the outcome of this past case and reading all the comments, I agree with the judge and the majority of you. However, let me throw this at you all. . . Any person, regardless of age involved in the type of assaults that THAT pervert did, should have a MUCH harsher sentence than normal. The law should double or triple its sentences internet crimes. Just a thought.

Posted by: Mark in MN | February 16, 2007 8:04 AM

teenagers were being sexual harassed before myspace with aol. and have of these kids are putting themselves out there by putting have naked pictures, so check your kids page out.

Posted by: unkown | February 16, 2007 8:18 AM

No child should be on the internet unsupervised.
It is a tragedy that parents lacking this basic understanding feel they can profit by blaming an internet provider for their own failure as parents.
Kudos to the judge for putting the kaibosh on this attempt by the parents to profit from their incompetence.

Posted by: alcibiades of Oz | February 16, 2007 8:33 AM

A child must produce a valid ID to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. He cannot simply say 'I'm 18' or 'I'm 21' and be served. Why do we allow them to lie online and not require id and age verification?

This judgment sends a message that money is more important than our children. And in the USA, this is unfortunately true.

We have the society we deserve.

To to all you people who believe it is the parent's responsibility... children are on the net in school bypassing filters to get to myspace, and they are on the net at friends' and relatives' homes. Parental authority is undermined by the masses and is why our youth are out of control.

we reap what we sow.
-Scott in NH

Posted by: Scott in NH | February 16, 2007 10:18 AM

he was 19...said he was 18. she was 13, had to lie about her age at least 2x-once to get on myspace, and once for meeting him. seems she told him he was 18...

if the guy was 50 and said he was 18, i would take more issue with it. 19 is very close to 18, and i've known some very slow 19 year old HS seniors, too. is he at fault? probably so, but what's to say she didn't look 18? It is not unfathomable. I work in NYC, and ride the subways every day. I see girls on there who, at first glance, could be college students-they look and dress the part. Then you listen to them talk about their life, and you can tell they are not yet 18.

Not absolving Pete from his guilt, but what's he supposed to do, card her like a bouncer at a bar? We won't ever get to know the alleged victim's side, because she is protected-even if she was over 18.

Neither was innocent in this debacle.

She thought she was more mature than she was-many young teens do. Maybe she had older friends who were convincing her to date older guys. It's not a new concept, it's been happening for a while (fast times at ridgemont high, anyone?)
At the same time, the 19 yr old was probably socially maladjusted-with the reliance on the 'net, chat rooms, message boards etc, the number of socially deficient teens/people in general is growing. Good or bad, that 5 or 6 year gap isn't as huge as it once was, either.

I think the sites need to do more, if possible-but there isn't an easy way. I mean, what do they do? Request a parent sign on with CC approval to vouch for their kids age? don't know if that would fly...

besides...at 13...isn't your school the only "social network" you need?

Posted by: nyc | February 16, 2007 11:06 AM

"MYSPACE IS FOR 18 AND UP.... BOTTOM LINE... ITS FOR PEOPLE THAT LIKE TO TALK AND MEET NEW PEOPLE AND DESIGN PAGES..."

lol, i really hope you are being sarcastic. the "design pages" part is almost offensive to my web design side.

glad though to see the judged ruled the way he did. the girl didn't deserve this to happen but myspace didn't deserve to get sued either.

for people proposing confirmations to "parents" email address and follow up emails about their childs activity...then i can already see the next lawyer going after gmail or yahoo for not confirming the person signing up was actually an adult parent

about the only way any of these sites could ever confirm age and such is through a credit card probably, and frankly then these types of sites are just going to go away probably. who the heck is going to just submit their credit card info to every fly by night social networking site so they can have an ugly free page? that is a fraud/identity theft case waiting to happen. if nothing else a headline reading, "10,000 card numbers stolen from myfriendsterspace.blah"

the better solution is to just start parenting and talking to your kids. heck take them to visit a prison if they can't seem to believe someone might want to hurt them.

Posted by: r. decline | February 16, 2007 11:35 AM

To the OId Guard: THANK YOU!! very well said.

To Jordan:

I AGREE THAT THE RULING WAS CORRECT and have said so.

"Perhaps it's because you're too busy fighting the symptoms, rather then the cause of the problem."

No, I was fighting BOTH the short term issue of safety and the deeper problems..

Many are saying that it was the parents' fault because they are bad parents:

My daughter had tons of support, counseling, BOUNDARIES galore and fought
me every step of the way. I did talk to her. Communication takes two and some people just don't listen. Teens are notorious for that. It's just not that simple. I, too, have worked in IT and blocked myspace. Without monitoring I would never have known that she was accessng it elsewhere. I did myspace away and everything else. I did not work and lived to protect my daughter; knowing that I could have a life of my own when she had grown up. I would do it all again.

Some parents are diligent. We try to limit things like children's access to pornography at the library, everyone screams freedom of speech. Schools do not support parental responsiblity.

In this society, being a good parent is difficult because we don't get support. Here, we are no longer allowed to spank a child under four years of age, it's against the law. (ever heard of the terrible twos? ) I'm not saying that society should raise our kids I'm saying should either support me or stay out of my way so that I CAN.

We blame liquor stores if they sell alcohol to our kids? Why can't we expect myspace to remove a profile when a parent can prove the child is underage? Myspace doesn't respond because they don't have to.

To responsible parent: I agree, "Myspace's crime is that not only do they not provide any way for a parent to limit access, they actually go out of their way to prevent it"

Don't say it's the parents responsibility then tie our hands behind our back.

Some say she got what she deserved:

PLEASE stop blaming the child - no child deserves this!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 11:54 AM

The judge's ruling was correct. Parents have a duty and a responsibility to monitor their children on the internet and if they cannot do that, then they need to keep them off it.

There are so many lies through out this story, the 19 year old guy lied, the 13 year old girl had to lie to get on MySpace because she is younger than MySpace allows and obviously she lied to and deceived her parents about what she was doing on MySpace.

Accountablity here does not rest with MySpace, it rests with the parents and how they raise their child.

Posted by: Novaguyus | February 16, 2007 12:28 PM

MySpace goes above and beyond what should be expected of them. They ask for age, they mark underage kids' profiles as private, they allow adults to mark their profiles as private to underage kids, and they having warnings golory, telling people to be careful about how much information they put on their page, and these warnings are for kids and adults alike.
Someone said that parents don't want to parent anymore. I have to agree with that. They want the schools, the teachers, the coaches, complete strangers (i.e. MySpace) to watch over their kids and make sure they don't get themselves into trouble. Sorry, monitor what your kids are doing. Find out who their friends are and call the parents when the kids tell you they are going to a party where the parents will be there, because more than likely, the parents don't even know. I'm 23 and saying this. I'm not so far removed from being a teenager, so I remember quite freshly the stunts kids pull and how the parents willing allowed themselves to be blind.

Posted by: Michelle | February 16, 2007 1:41 PM

MySpace goes above and beyond what should be expected of them. They ask for age, they mark underage kids' profiles as private, they allow adults to mark their profiles as private to underage kids, and they having warnings golory, telling people to be careful about how much information they put on their page, and these warnings are for kids and adults alike.
Someone said that parents don't want to parent anymore. I have to agree with that. They want the schools, the teachers, the coaches, complete strangers (i.e. MySpace) to watch over their kids and make sure they don't get themselves into trouble. Sorry, monitor what your kids are doing. Find out who their friends are and call the parents when the kids tell you they are going to a party where the parents will be there, because more than likely, the parents don't even know. I'm 23 and saying this. I'm not so far removed from being a teenager, so I remember quite freshly the stunts kids pull and how the parents willing allowed themselves to be blind.

Posted by: Michelle | February 16, 2007 1:42 PM

Really this kind of thing isnt as uncommon.

Social engineering doesnt require technology, it only helps.

When I was in high school, we didnt have the internet just yet, me and my friends goofed around with this voice mailbox system. I met lots of people through those phone chat/voicemail systems and I've always used good judgement (my parents raised me well) and never got into trouble.

If a stranger approached you on the street, how open would you be? Online, people feel more safe.

Myspace can only do so much since all it takes to circumvent their system is for a user to LIE.

Anyone can fabricate a personality and put it up on myspace. Theres no penalty. Theres no checks.

Attempt to "verify" someone and it steps over the line into intruding into privacy. What could you verify with? Social Security #s?

Even those can be hacked. So what are we left with?

The user.

The one typing the keys and pressing the mouse is ultimately responsible for what happens to them.

The internet cannot force you to go anywhere or do anything, you have to click "ACCEPT"(unless you get hacked...but thats a different matter altogether).

Posted by: Sean | February 16, 2007 2:06 PM

OK - so I parent as responsibly as I can. But my kids don't live in eye shot 24/7. No... they hang out with friends. I used to know all the parents. Now there's too many, who live too far away. My kids meet new kids every day. So we rely on the foundation we've set for him and hope for the best, anticipate and and compensate for problems as best we can.

But now one of our kids visits a friend's house and the parents are idiots and borderline criminal, and they hide it pretty well, gaining the trust of my kid. How are we to know? We say to "Joe" don't use myspace, but "Tim" shows him stuff anyway.

MySpace is not a good neighbor. They create nuisance and play the game of blame-shift for things that *are* within their ability to control, but might cost a few cents and might discourage bad people from being there.

No one seems to think of the "bad neighbor" effects, but they're real. And this country will continue to rot from within until people understand what my parents and their parents understood: your neighborhood is only as good as your neighbors.

In this global environment, MySpace, whatever else it might be, is my neighbor. And a bad one at that. If your kid hangs out on my space, please keep your little darling the hell away from my kid.

Posted by: harry | February 16, 2007 4:44 PM

Couldn't agree more. Parents these days need to realize - RESPONSIBILITY and SAYING NO is not a four letter word.

What is it with American parenting?

Posted by: No Name | February 16, 2007 5:52 PM

I keep seeing a few people post about how we need to find a way to protect our children or how Myspace should post more info about there product like the insurence companies do.

for all that talk there is a VERY big problem... unless you are willing to give up ALOT of personal information about who you and your family are then there is NO way to truly put into place a safe guard that will protect children from themselves.

Now befor any one says "Credit card", think about it. not every adult has one, most children can steal one, and do you REALLY want to HAVE to give a Credit card number just to talk to friends online?

Posted by: Muzz | February 18, 2007 12:51 AM

I have 2 daughters, they have/had myspace accounts. We taught them to be wary online. We taught them to respect themselves and others. We taught them that the internet, the world can be good or bad, so one must always be careful. They have not been molested.

If you choose to have children, be a parent. Perhaps not the parent you had, but the parent you wanted.
Kudos to the judge. He did the right thing.

Posted by: Adam | February 18, 2007 12:19 PM

I'm not the guy talking about the induced coma, who's statement really indicates why such actions couldn't be allowed. (please grow up)

Fact: She lied about her age.
So ANYONE meeting her on that site would have been duped.

Fact: She chose to meet this guy.

At that meeting point, unless she 'looked' 20 (what exactly does 20 look like?) He should have left...Unless she 'looked' 20. Any idea what age she might have 'looked' like?

Fact: the only person who really knew how old she was, is her.

One last comment people, No one checked your age or identity to post here.

Just something to think about.

Posted by: Adam | February 18, 2007 12:36 PM

This girl is typical of many unsupervised, unparented teeny bopper kids. She set herself up in an adult dating site to meet older guys. She found exactly what she was looking for, and she got exactly what she wanted, a paid date out, guy with a car, and sex. Mommy catches her and she suddenly whines that he lied about being on the football team? Come on. He was the one duped into believing that it was just a mutually consentual dating situation. He is the one who will now pay the price in lawyer fees and probably his life, for the girl being a liar and promiscous teenager, and her parents being completely irresponsible as well.

Posted by: Sue100 | February 19, 2007 12:34 AM

This girl is typical of many unsupervised, unparented teeny bopper kids. She set herself up in an adult dating site to meet older guys. She found exactly what she was looking for, and she got exactly what she wanted, a paid date out, guy with a car, and sex. Mommy catches her and she suddenly whines that he lied about being on the football team? Come on. He was the one duped into believing that it was just a mutually consentual dating situation. He is the one who will now pay the price in lawyer fees and probably his life, for the girl being a liar and promiscous teenager, and her parents being completely irresponsible as well.

Posted by: Sue100 | February 19, 2007 12:35 AM

This girl is typical of many unsupervised, unparented teeny bopper kids. She set herself up in an adult dating site to meet older guys. She found exactly what she was looking for, and she got exactly what she wanted, a paid date out, guy with a car, and sex. Mommy catches her and she suddenly whines that he lied about being on the football team? Come on. He was the one duped into believing that it was just a mutually consentual dating situation. He is the one who will now pay the price in lawyer fees and probably his life, for the girl being a liar and promiscous teenager, and her parents being completely irresponsible as well.

Posted by: Sue100 | February 19, 2007 12:36 AM

To Frustrated Diligent Parent - I raised my kids, I went through the struggles of teenage - let me try and help you out here.

The point of all these posts is that it is not myspace's, nor is it the schools where our kids go, nor the public library's, or our neighbor's, or our daughter's friends, or the police, or all the young males out in the world, responsibility to see that our daughters/sons abide by our particular rules and wishes. That is between parent and child.

If you can't deal with raising her in conjunction with the freedoms that exist in this world, then homeschool her, allow no internet in the house if necessary (I grew up fine without it), and keep the doors locked.

If this sounds a bit absurb, I would agree but it is the answer to your style of parenting. Now, if you put rules on your daughter such as forbidding her on myspace, and she is defying you at whatever opportunity she can find, then the two of you need to sit down together and have a serious talk about what your parental authority means, to what extent you expect it to be obeyed, and what the consequences are for when you are disobeyed. No one else can do that for you, just as no one else is appropriate to decide what your daughter can and cannot do.

Posted by: Sue100 | February 19, 2007 12:57 AM

As far as this guy being a predator, then I guess ALL young men and women who are in their teens and young twenties and seeking dates/mates are predators. This is what 99% of the internet predating and child solicitation is about!! 13-20+ year olds!! This is about NORMAL LIFE!! Birds and bees, guys and girls doing what has always been done since the beginning of time - seeking each other when they are single. Remove the internet, there are still the malls, the bowling alleys, the movie theaters, friends, parks, churches even.

We as a society have lost it - sure there are real predators out there but they are like sociopaths and serial killers - the odds of anyone (young or old) meeting up with such types is EXTREMELY LOW. A child has a 45 times greater chance of being killed in a car wreck than crossing such a person's path. People need to wake up to what is really going on.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2007 1:21 AM

A 19 year old "man" with a 13 year old girl isn't a big deal. It used to be normal, and acceptable, and still is in other countries. Americans and their culture is completely nutty, that's the real problem here, not the "sexual predators". Get a clue.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2007 6:12 AM

I'm a mother of a 14-year-old daughter and we've had many My Space incidents including her sneaking out of the house to meet an 18-year-old (when she was 13 and lying about her age), posting inappropriate pictures, talking extremely inappropriately, computer bullying and more.
I an definitely say that I am a diligent, vigilent parent. I have bought computer monitoring software, I have grounded her from the computer, I have had so many conversations about the dangers of her behavior and what is and is not appropriate. We've been going to counseling, etc.

As I write this, my daughter is now at a Residential Treatment Center because of just ho quickly things deteriorated (sneaking around, lying, shop lifting, angry defiant behavior, alcohol, etc).

It seems that no matter how much monitoring or how much control I tried to exert, it did not change her behaviors or the overall outcome.

I guess the bottomline is that you can always beat up the parent and be Monday-morning quartebacks, but often, the kid is going to misbehave regardless of all the efforts that have been made to the contrary.

Ultimately, it goes way beyond parenting.

The 19 year old is utimately responsible for his own illegal behavior.

I agree with the judge though.

I would love it though if parent needed to put their own credit card information and approve of any minor my space sites, so that there was some accountability.

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Posted by: xiaonanok | March 8, 2007 1:09 AM

>
Don't be so patronizing. Clearly you and I have very different children.

As Cindy-San Diego found, this approach in ineffectual with some kids. Mine was one of them and so, it seems, is hers. We're way beyond that point now.

I DO NOT DISAGREE WITH THE JUDGE.

I am tired of people who have no children, or children who are addicted to something, tell me that it is because I'm a bad parent. I'm not perfect but my daughter has unconditional love, discipline, support and compassion.

God bless you when you have your own.

My point, which some of you seem be keep missing, is that society does share in some level of responsiblity when the school won't support the parent's decisions and it is cruel and wrong to turn and point the finger solely at the parent when society is constantly diminishing the parent's authority.

When my daughter tried to run away a police officer told said "You know sometimes if you just let them go the concert, or whatever it will all blow over".

Big surprise, it didn't!

You have no idea how painful it is for those, like Sue100 and myself to have tried everything humanly possible to protect and teach our children and have them choose something harmful to them.

Don't be so quick to lecture or to judge.

Sue - you've got my prayers for your child. I hope it all turns out well for you !

Posted by: Frustrated Diligent Parent | March 9, 2007 7:39 PM

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