June 19th, 2006

MySpace Sued For Failing to Protect Children from Sexual Predators


Remember MySpace the ticking time bomb? Well, it’s starting to tick faster — now they’re being sued for failing to protect children (thanks to Jeff for the tip):

A 14-year-old Travis County girl who said she was sexually assaulted by a Buda man she met on MySpace.com sued the popular social networking site Monday for $30 million, claiming that it fails to protect minors from adult sexual predators.

The lawsuit claims that the Web site does not require users to verify their age and calls the security measures aimed at preventing strangers from contacting users younger than 16 “utterly ineffective.”

“MySpace is more concerned about making money than protecting children online,” said Adam Loewy, who is representing the girl and her mother in the lawsuit against MySpace, parent company News Corp. and Pete Solis, the 19-year-old accused of sexually assaulting the girl.

Loewy said the lawsuit is the first of its kind in the nation against MySpace.

Solis contacted the girl through her MySpace Web site in April, telling her that he was a high school senior who played on the football team, according to the lawsuit.

In May, after a series of e-mails and phone calls, he picked her up at school, took her out to eat and to a movie, then drove her to an apartment complex parking lot in South Austin, where he sexually assaulted her, police said. He was arrested May 19.

The lawsuit includes news reports of other assault cases in which girls were contacted through MySpace. They include a 22-year-old Wisconsin man charged with six counts of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and a 27-year-old Connecticut man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

Call it a frivolous lawsuit by a greedy, publicity-hungry lawyer. Call it the over-reaction of a distraught parent in search of someone to blame. Call it a shameless publicity stunt. Call it whatever you like.

But this kind of bad of PR is going to make advertisers run for the hills and make MySpace users think about checking out the proliferation of alternative social network sites popping up all over the place.

  • Daisy

    Hey ya all. A few sentence would sum up all the negative and positive comments. Here goes... we've gone without myspace.com for centuries, I'm sure this world would not come to an end if the site gets shut down. Haven't we as parents have enough worries of our children? Why add another burden for the parents. I believe the site is inviting predators and is meaningless. If you need informations, why not go to google.com. In the past, you don't hear so much child molesters as you do now since myspace.com started. Come on guys, there are more important things you can do, like spending more time with your families and friends than wasting time on a meaningless site that accomplishes nothing!!!!

  • matthew

    What the hell is this, its the stupidest crap I've ever heard of. Don't parents think they have to watch their kids anymore they expect the internet to raise their children for them. its not myspace problem that some 13 year old slut wanted to meet some guy.

  • I always get a bit leery when I see people coming out to absolve MySpace of any and all blame and then go right at the parents. It seems that many - especially those in the blogosphere conversations rush to defend any thing that relates to Web 2.0. And I'm not saying this to blame MySpace.

    The whole social media thing is still very new. Bad things can happen. MySpace now affords a new opportunity for bad things to happen. When I hear people automatically blaming the parents, I wonder how many of them 1) have driven even slightly buzzed or knowingly got in a care that has a driver in that condition, 2) tried and illegal drug, or 3) had unprotected sex outside of a relationship. Or, if they have kids, can assure the world with certainty that their kids would never do any of the above.

    I'm not saying this to absolve parents...I'm saying that with a medium such as MySpace, somewhat rebeliuos teens, and scum like this guy Solis who will lie about their age, things are going to happen. Sometimes it will happen to kids with good involved parents.

    By the way, I'm a single parent myself. And I've got a profile on MySpace.

  • The story has taken another odd turn. KLBJ-AM (590) in Austin is reporting that the accused man in this case may also want to sue MySpace. Details are few, but the radio station reports that "Solis also says he wouldn't be in this trouble if it hadn't been for the social networking website and his lawyer, Adam Reposa agrees."

  • Amanda

    I really appreciate the last post here from the parent. You've hit the nail on the head here. Those parents are to blame, not myspace, or anyother website out there like it. They just don't want to admit that they failed, and the daughter can't accept the fact that she screwed up.

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