Nottingham Township girl's Craigslist prank leads to juvenile charges
A 17-year-old Nottingham Township girl is facing juvenile criminal charges after admitting she posted a suggestive personal ad on Craigslist that included the phone number of a Union Township girl, police said.
The act was initially meant as one friend playing a prank on the other, according to Southwest Regional police Chief John Hartman. It resulted in an undetermined number of adult men soliciting the victim for sexual purposes.
“She did it as a joke and what happened was the victim started getting all these wild texts to her phone, and she was afraid,” Hartman said.
“We were equally concerned. We didn't know if any of these people contacting her were trying to physically locate her and posed a threat to her and her family.”
The accused girl was charged with dissemination of obscene material to minors, unlawful communication with minors and harassment. A petition was filed in Washington County Juvenile Court.
The frightened victim called police March 16 saying she was receiving graphic text messages and calls on her cell phone, including lewd photos and nudity, Hartman said.
Hartman said the victim discovered she was being contacted because of an ad on the website Craigslist. The ad included a bogus picture of a woman and a promise of sex “with no strings attached.”
When the girl tried to access the ad, it had already been removed, Hartman said. Many of the men knew the girl lived in Washington County and continually referred to seeing the ad on Craigslist.
“There's a lot of people who responded to this ad who had no idea the girl (they were contacting) was a juvenile,” Hartman said.
Hartman compared the act to writing “For a good time, call …” on a bathroom wall. Except, in this case, it was a website that's accessible to thousands of anonymous viewers in an instant.
And even after the ad was removed after “a short time,” the lewd messages kept pouring in, Hartman said.
The chief said he didn't know how the suspect discovered the victim was having these problems.
“They were pummeling the girl's phone with messages,” Hartman said. “The victim voiced concern, so the actor went and removed the ad, and she thought that was the end of it, no harm, no foul.
“We, as police, can't just say, ‘Oh well, no harm, no foul.' There was a huge foul here. This is serious business, and it could've really created problems for this girl and her family, and the actor should answer for that.”
Hartman said his department was able to reconstruct the ad, and following a four-day investigation, trace the origin to the Nottingham Township girl.
Police contacted the girl's parents. The girl subsequently confessed to posting the ad, Hartman said.
Hartman declined to say if the girls attend school together, saying only that they were “friends.”
The victim was surprised to find out who posted the ad, Hartman said.
“Here's the point: These kids are navigating on the cyber highway, and there's a lot of danger on that highway,” Hartman said.
“Just because they can get into these websites doesn't mean they know how to handle it once they're into it.
“We had to address what the actor initially thought was a joke,” Hartman added. “This is no joke … not when you count the public resources we expended getting this done and not when we saw the kind of text messages coming in.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Valley resident new CEO at Jefferson
- Big transportation wish list pitched to state commission
- Fallowfield woman held for abusing her son
- Belle Vernon woman named Mrs. Pennsylvania; targets child bullies
- Procrastation is a major financial deterrent
- Rostraver youth pastor accused of sex assault
- Pony World Series tradition continues at Washington
- Woman marks 70 years on bench at Rostraver church’s organ