Three 14-year-old boys from Newburyport have been charged with identity theft after they allegedly harassed a boy at Newburyport High School by creating a fake Facebook page bearing the boy’s name and picture and then posted disparaging remarks on the page about other students, police said.
Police accused the boys of “cyberbullying” and said they will face charges next week at Newburyport District Court. None of the boys’ names were released.
“With what’s been going on around the state, it’s something we don’t take lightly,” said Lieutenant Mark Murray of the Newburyport Police Department. “We need to send a message.”
He said such harassment “won’t be tolerated,” especially in light of the suicide last month of Phoebe Prince, 15, of South Hadley, who hanged herself after being bullied by a group of girls who taunted her with text messages and on Facebook.
Murray said the case came to the police's attention in the fall fall when the alleged victim’s mother alerted police that her son was being harassed for messages the other boys allegedly posted on the fake Facebook page they made. The boy did not have his own Facebook page.
Murray said students began questioning the boy about the posts on Facebook and some attacked him physically by tripping him. “He was repeatedly harassed,” Murray said.
He said two of the three boys have cooperated with police and admitted to creating the Facebook page. ““They stated that they chose the person … because he wasn’t too smart,” Murray said. “They said they found him to be an outcast; they thought he was different, and that it would be funny.”
David Abel can be reached at email@example.com
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more