WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) – The end of a nearly year-long cyberbullying episode involving Wilson sixth grader may have stopped the harassment, but it left emotional scars on the victim and questions about who’ll be punished for the crime.
The cyberbully had tormented 12-year-old Jaylen White since last September. It started when the hacker repeatedly interrupted the his distance learning at two different schools.
When the schools disconnected his online account, the hacker began targeting the youngster at his home with electronic taunts, destruction of his video game accounts, and repeated death threats.
“He had to go to therapy, sometimes twice a week, because it was weighing on him so bad,” said his mother, Sheleen.
The cyberbully preyed on the sixth grader from September 2020, all though the pandemic, until just last week.
White said the threats and harassment were unrelenting.
The cyberbully even interrupted the family’s Netflix feed whenever he wanted, with taunts and threats via text messages though the Netflix search mode function.
“It really bothered him,” White said. “One day when they sent a message saying, ‘If you kill yourself, I’ll stop,’ I remember him crying and saying, ‘Mom, if I just do it, maybe they’ll leave me alone.'”
The cyberbully only stopped when the hacker messaged the White family saying his mother caught him doing it. He also messaged the family that his mom wanted him to apologize.
White said they still have no idea who the cyberbully was.
“This was not something small,” White said. “This was affecting people’s lives and their psyche.”
The unknown hacker committed a crime. In North Carolina, cyberbullying carries the same weight as an in-person threat or one made by phone.
Cyberbullying is a Class 1 misdemeanor if the defendant is 18 or older and a Class 2 misdemeanor if the defendant is younger than 18.
- Class 1 misdemeanor penalties can include up to 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
- Class 2 misdemeanors can result in up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Back in September, White said the Wilson police department assigned a detective to the case.
“They have not communicated with me at all,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on with the investigation.”
on Thursday, Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia went to the Wilson Police Department to speak with the detective assigned to the case. He wasn’t available.
In a subsequent email, CBS 17 outlined the latest developments in the case and asked: Where does the investigation stand? Sbraccia also wanted to know now that someone has confessed, will efforts be made to locate this individual?
The police department’s spokesperson replied, “They were preparing a response.”
Proving cyberbullying can be challenging for a law enforcement agency. Many aren’t technologically equipped to handle those kinds of cases.
Some police departments have special units that work full-time on cybercrime. Others need to call in help from outside agencies like the State Bureau of Investigation.