The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Judge to review Facebook posts of teen who accused man of plying her with booze, raping her

  • Print

TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey judge has ordered a teen who accused a man of rape to turn over access to her Facebook page, providing another example of social media's growing use in courtrooms and the resulting privacy concerns.

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier this week agreed to a request from David Stevens-Parker's defence attorney, and the judge said he will privately review two weeks of Facebook postings for any comments related to the alleged rape before deciding whether any can be used in court.

Defence attorney Andrew Ferencevych said he wants to see if there are any hints that the sex was consensual. Stevens-Parker, 22, was charged with providing the then-16-year-old Princeton girl with alcohol before sexually assaulting her in April 2013.

Assistant Prosecutor John Carbonara said Ferencevych cited a state court ruling that allowed a defence attorney to require a victim to submit to an eye exam, but Carbonara argued that ordering the teen to turn over Facebook access was a greater invasion of privacy. He said courts don't typically order crime victims to turn over information.

If you asked a typical teen whether having an eye examination or giving over Facebook passwords was more of an invasion, "I guarantee 100 per cent of them would say to look at your Facebook," Carbonara said. "That's the predominant way they communicate to their friends on a lot of issues."

Content from social media is routinely used in court, but the New Jersey case is different because it involves a judge ordering an alleged victim to turn over information, said Wendy Patrick, a prosecutor and former chairwoman of the California state bar ethics committee.

"It's used all the time and the reason is because the Internet has become a confessional," Patrick said. "It's a place where everyone is an open book."

Patrick noted that authenticating content found on social media is often the most difficult part of trying to use it as evidence.

Among the other recent cases where posts on Facebook and other social media have been used in court:

—The case of two Ohio high school football players convicted of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl drew international attention because of the role of texting a and social media in exposing the attack.

—Also in Ohio, a grand jury decided not to charge anyone in a public sex act that was photographed by witnesses and later reported by the woman as a sexual assault after images circulated on social media.

—A defence attorney for a man convicted of killing a University of New Hampshire student spent several hours going over Facebook pages and conversations in an attempt to convince jurors that the state's star witness was possessed by imaginary characters.

Carbonara said that the teen victim in the New Jersey case told him she was willing to turn over the information to the judge. Patrick said that it's good to know that she isn't opposed to the judge reviewing her Facebook page.

"Think how you would feel if someone went into your room and said, 'I must read your diary to see if anything is relevant?'" Patrick said. "It's just invasive."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: No Time Left for Stu

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google