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AOL Monitor Accused of Luring 15-Year-Old for Sex 851

Posted by timothy
from the litigious-society dept.
Amy's Robot writes "According to the AP, an Internet chat room monitor hired by AOL to keep children safe from sexual predators seduced a California girl online and was about to meet her for sex when he was found out by a co-worker, a lawsuit charges. The incident happened 2 years ago, but has become public this week because the lawsuit was just filed by the girl, now 19. She accuses AOL of failing to supervise the employee and of falsely advertising that its online service was safe for children. Who's watching the watchers?"
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AOL Monitor Accused of Luring 15-Year-Old for Sex

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  • Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:55PM (#12265600) Homepage
    This might not be the only case, we might see a lot of me-toos lawsuits soon.

    And to watch the watchers, the outcome may have already suggested a solution - some sort of peer reviews, his co-worker did find out his activity right?
    • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mboverload (657893) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:15PM (#12265733) Journal
      If you are 15 and stupid enough to meet someone from the net to have sex...you're an idiot. She has no right to file this lawsuit. When will people be responsible and stop trying to freeload?
      • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Informative)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:15AM (#12266746)
        If you are 15 and stupid enough to meet someone from the net to have sex...you're an idiot.

        More importantly, she never met him at all, and it didn't come to almost meeting him till she was 17. The slashdot headline and even summary is, as usual, bullshit.

      • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:39AM (#12266835)
        The law does not recognize someone as a legally responsible adult until the age of 18. Who among us did NOT do some fairly stupid things when we were teenagers?
        • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @02:43AM (#12267092)
          Shit, I don't know about you, but the dumb stuff I did as a teenager pales in comparison to the shockingly, dangerously, freakishly stupid things I did after I went off to college.

          The same goes for most of my friends:

          Teenage years: petty crime, drinking, and a little driving recklessly.

          College years: alcohol poisoning, joining cults, getting stoned, stealing radar detectors from cars, exploring "alternative" sexual behavior, losing thousands of dollars playing blackjack, acquiring psycho-stalker ex-girlfriends, getting pregnant, getting arrested for providing beer to minors, starting fires... and the list goes on.

          Maybe it really shouldn't be legal to do much of anything until you're 29 or so.

          And don't give me that "old enough to fight for your country is old enough to drink or vote" bullshit. 18-year olds can be very good at killing people, but that doesn't mean they can hold their liquor or stay awake through a whole episode of "Frontline."
          • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by lachlan76 (770870) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:33AM (#12267224)
            18-year olds can be very good at killing people, but that doesn't mean they can hold their liquor or stay awake through a whole episode of "Frontline.

            The idea is that if they're old enough to make a choice that can result in getting killed for their country that they should be able to make choices regarding their own bodies.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:44AM (#12267264)
            Maybe it really shouldn't be legal to do much of anything until you're 29 or so.

            Oh yes, delay adulthood to almost fsking age *30.* That'll be a real boon to society. Hows about we just put it off until 40 or 50 to make absolutly sure the little buggers are mature enough? Jesus, this sounds like Logan's Run in reverse.
          • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @05:32AM (#12267546)
            That's funny. My wife married me when she was 19. I was 21. We have steady, well paid jobs, we're paying a mortgage and have been married for over three years now.

            So you're saying because you have no self control and act like a four year old, no one is capable of being an adult until they're "29 or so"? Don't tar me with the same brush as you and your college buddies thanks. Some of us have brains.
            • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by TheoGB (786170) <theo@graham-brown.org.RASPuk minus berry> on Monday April 18, 2005 @07:23AM (#12267832) Homepage
              Where did all the irony go? Perhaps people need to re-read what was posted and realise the '29 or so' thing was obviously a joke. "Hello? McFly?"

              The point that was so eloquently made was that 15 is an age where you can be as adult or as stupid as when you're 25. Yes, there are somethings you don't have experience of but fundamentally you can't just sit there letting the state and others pay for someone else's stupidity until an arbitrary cut-off where you say "Well we've taught you all we can. Any gross stupidity from now on is your own look out."
          • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday April 18, 2005 @06:42AM (#12267696) Journal
            See, aiming a gun that-a-way and shooting is the easy part. Technically you could even get a monkey to kill people, or just release a bunch of rabid pitbulls and hope they gore someone.

            The thing, however, is about responsibility and making the right judgment call.

            E.g., when you stand guard for _hours_ with an assault rifle and live ammo, you're trusted to be responsible enough to _not_ start shooting at cars on the nearby highway because you're bored. E.g., when you're taught how to lob a grenade, and yes at some point you'll get to use live ones, you're trusted to be responsible enough to not lob it at your platoon mates or shove it down your own pants. Etc.

            But you know why that works, while college is an exercise in proving you're more stupid than the others? Consequences.

            Sorry, 18-19 year olds are _not_ brain-dead. They _are_ perfectly capable of cause-effect judgment.

            However, like all humans at all ages, they choose the course of action that offers the best (short time) effect.

            In the army you _know_ that you'll be up shit creek without a paddle if you do something stupid.

            In college it's exactly the other way around: the way to gain prestige and peer recognition is to do all those sorts of stupid things. Think of it as the RL equivalent of karma whoring on /. You don't get to be fashionable and popular in college by being the guy/gal who actually learns stuff. You get to be fashionable and popular by fitting in with the rebel-without-a-clue gang. You get to be _really_ popular if you up the ante: whatever idiocy someone else did, by jove, show everyone that you can do it twice as idiotic.

            So it's not that you're more stupid at 19 than you are at 29. In both cases you just pick the course of action that promises the most rewards, and the least perceived short-term risks. It's just that at 19 and in college the whole rewards and negative consequences scale is turned on its head. So the perfectly logical course of action to take in that situation, seems bloody stupid when viewed from another context.
      • Re:Can of worms? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Snaller (147050) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:04AM (#12268001) Journal
        If you are 15 and stupid enough to meet someone from the net to have sex...you're an idiot.

        Of course in most place in the world you'd be allowed to have sex if you were 15.
    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:49PM (#12266304) Journal
      Yeah, but it's such bullshit. If a 17 year-old girl consents to having sex after having known someone since she was 15 then that's her own decision and can't in all honesty be considered illegal (assuming, of course, that the age of consent has now been passed).

      If it is, then where do you want to draw the line? If a guy first has contact with a girl when she's 15 then she consents to having sex with him when she's 19 does that then still count as wrong? How about if she consents to having sex when she's 21? 30? 40? Are you just going to pick an arbitrary number?

      The girl was below the age of consent at 15. If the guy had asked her to have sex with him then then that would have been wrong. But for a 17 year-old to agree to do something of her own free will - when the law recognises that she's free to do it - and then raise a hue and cry about it is plainly ridiculous.

      If I were a judge and this came to my court I'd ask the girl one simple question: "when he first asked you to have sex with him or made any sexual overtures towards you, how old were you and did he know your true age at that time?". If the girl said she was past the age of consent (especially if she was a year or more past it) then I'd throw her case out in a heartbeat.

      Girls meet older guys all the time. When they first meet is irrelevant. It's when they get down to business that matters. And, in this case, that didn't even happen, did it?
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdougNO@SPAMgeekazon.com> on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:55PM (#12265602) Homepage
    It started when she was 15, they were going to meet when she turned 17, that was 2 years ago, now she's 19. So that clears that up.
    • by jerw134 (409531) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:57PM (#12265613)
      Thank you for clarifying those numbers. I was about to start complaining, since I haven't RTFA yet.
    • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:05PM (#12265660)
      Posting anonymous for obvious reasons.

      I think at some point in this country we are going to have an honest debate about age of consent. In most european countries it varies from 14-17.

      We like to maintain this fantasy that our kids are NOT having sex -- but, Ive been in the back rooms, and the level of detachment young people have from sex took me until my late 20's to develop.

      • by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:10PM (#12265689) Homepage Journal
        Posting anonymous for obvious reasons.

        Whoops. Whatever your reasons were, they're irrelevant now.

      • by lakeland (218447) <lakeland@acm.org> on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:16PM (#12265738) Homepage
        The most effective approach I've seen to this is to define the ability to consent in terms of the age (and therefore 'power') difference. That is, a fourteen year old can consent to having sex with a fifteen year old, but not with an eighteen year old.

        However, this approach makes particularly liberal people uncomfortable since they don't like the idea that you can legally have sex with some people but not with others (where the others can legally have sex with some people). It also makes particularly conservative people uncomfortable since they don't like the idea that their fourteen year old daughter can legally have sex.

        Since it isn't getting picked up by either the liberals or the conservatives, I can't see the US adopting it. But that's politics for you...
      • by DigiShaman (671371)
        Why 14? Why not 12? Why not 9?

        I'll tell you why not. It's because of the level of mental maturity and the level of personal responsibility they are able to handle at such a young age.

        And yes, it's very easy for a 12 year old to become pregnate and even come full term to give birth. So the question is, who is going to provide child support? You better not advocate the government, because that gets paid for by the citizens tax dollars.
        • by Kinetix303 (471831) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:55PM (#12265984) Homepage
          Bahahaha, yeah, kids will stop having sex and stop getting pregnant if you make it illegal. Good one! I haven't a laugh like that in awhile.
        • by brsmith4 (567390) <brsmith4.gmail@com> on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:02PM (#12266039)
          If the 12 year old's parents don't have a the insight to tell their sex-crazed 12 year-old that protection should be used, then they can deal with an extra addition to their family. Of course, they then will get their 12 year old to file with the IRS, get an Earned-Income-Credit form (remember, the 12 year old makes no income to support her child, regardless of dependant claims by her folks), and bilk around $2500 per kid they pop out. The law should state that unless the minor is legally emancipated from the parents, the parents should take legal custody of any child produced by said minor until either a) said minor files for legal emancipation or b) said minor becomes a legal adult. Of course, clauses will be added for special cases.
        • "And yes, it's very easy for a 12 year old to become pregnate and even come full term to give birth."

          Of course it is, and the question becomes if evolution has made 12 yearolds sexual beings at the age of 12, why is the age of concent 18?

          Perhaps instead of rallying against nature people should accept the obvisous: children are sexual beings and to deny reality leads to sexually repressed future adults, or current adults being jailed among other problems.

          • by The Only Druid (587299) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:28PM (#12266177)
            "Of course it is, and the question becomes if evolution has made 12 yearolds[sic] sexual beings at the age of 12, why is the age of concent[sic] 18?"

            Let's look at why that argument makes no sense:

            If evolution has made humans capable of killing each other, why are there laws against killing?
            If evolution has made humans liars at any age, why are there laws against lying in some situations?


            I could go on. The point is this: human laws exist to curb human nature. I forget the philosopher who said it, but laws are only for criminals. If we could trust everyone to behave in mutually altruistic was (assuming somehow that everyone agreed on what that meant), we wouldn't need laws. Laws exist to exert normative force on those who would otherwise transgress.

            What this comes down to is that we have laws restricting the age of consent so as to prevent the abuse of children by adults. The state has a valid interest in preventing emotionally immature children from being taken-advantage-of by malicious adults.
            • "I could go on. The point is this: human laws exist to curb human nature. I forget the philosopher who said it, but laws are only for criminals."

              Then sexuality is defacto criminal? I think that is an assumption, and one I do not happen to share with you at this point in time.

              "Laws exist to exert normative force on those who would otherwise transgress. "

              This is a discussion about norms, thus you conclude with your assumption when you say that this is wrong because it is not normal. The point is I argue
    • by Kaz Kylheku (1484) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:11PM (#12265697) Homepage
      The way I see it: the girl strings along the guy for two years, promises to meet, changes her mind and two years later slaps the guy with this!

      Could someone clarify who the aggressor is again?

      Was this girl chained to the computer and forced to make herself available for chat and respond?
      • No nobody forced her to chat with the man but it is possible that she was lured into chatting with him. I don't know that exact contents of the messages that were sent back and forth but I think it's safe to say that those are what will determin who was at fault here.

        If she was 15 when they started talking and he brought up sex to her, at that age, and knowing how old she was than it's her fault. But maybe they were just chat pals for 2 years or so and at 17 she mentioned having sex, her parents find o
      • by Zemran (3101) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:40PM (#12265911) Homepage Journal
        Regardless of your obscure views of paedophiles this guy was employed to protect her from people like himself. He is a fraud. Parents use AOL because they advertise the child protection angle. OK, I think that AOL is rubbish but this guy was abusing his position in order to get payed a salary to do what he was getting paid to prevent.
        • by tgibbs (83782) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:07PM (#12266067)
          Regardless of your obscure views of paedophiles this guy was employed to protect her from people like himself.

          It seems to me that the guy's behavior was improper, given that he had a professional relationship with the young woman. On the other hand, I think the term "paedophile" should be reserved for those who are sexually attracted to people who are below the age of sexual maturity, not merely below the age of consent in a particular locale.
      • by Reene (808293) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:22PM (#12266152) Journal
        Having been in the same position as the "victim" here, I'm inclined to agree with your sentiment.

        That is, I've dated older men online (years and years ago) when I was around that age. Indeed, I met my fiance when I was around 14 and he was about 19. He is probably the oldest person I've ever been involved with, but it was extremely awkward when we were dating for the first few years, especially when he turned 20 and I was still under the AOC in my state (and still in high school, though not for long).

        It's unfair to call the younger one in this relationship a "victim" and especially unfair to call the older one a "pedophile" or even a sexual predator when all signs seem to point to the opposite; a consenting and apparently rather close relationship.

        That said, AOL still dropped the ball here. At the very least, this will hopefully force them to tighten their belts a bit to prevent something truly tragic from taking place (if it hasn't already).
    • This guy "lures" this girl for two years? I don't know, he doesn't sound like a sexual predator to me. She's young, sure. But she was 17 when they were *going to meet* (read: they didn't.)

      So if I meet a girl online, then find out that she's 15 years old, and say "Hey, maybe in a couple years we could meet each other" - I'm suddenly a potential rapist? This guy was only 23 when he met her, it's not like he was a 40 year old guy. I've known of plenty of guys in their mid 20's going out with girls at
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by pwnage (856708) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:56PM (#12265611)
    Original poster: A/S/L?
  • She's suing whom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:57PM (#12265614)
    In other news, people who arrive at the stark realization that they're going to be losers on welfare and in debt for the rest of their lives are suing corporations with deep pockets instead of getting real jobs.

  • Only Human? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tesseract5d (871694) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:57PM (#12265618)
    I guess that means they need to move to AI bot monitors instead of those silly humans? I mean, if they can make bots in UT2004 that are that good....
  • Parents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tankenator (803647) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:58PM (#12265621)
    Yet another case of the parents not watching what their children are doing. But, if this means AOL gets hammered in the courts, I suppose I'm for it, as a loyal slashdotter.......... All jokes aside, parents should be supervising thier children's wherabouts and doings, rather than the big brotherish leanings that this implies should be implemented--it is evident that not even the watchers can be trusted. Who do you trust with your children, yourself or some stranger that is hired by AOL or other isp for close to min wage to watch for this shit?
    • Re:Parents (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:13PM (#12265717)
      Sure, parents should be responsible.

      But if AOL specifically went out of their way to make chat rooms that were SAFE for young children, by actively having people monitor them and keep them acceptable, tha'ts a selling feature to parents.

      It's like if you sent your kid to daycare, and he was mistrated.. would you say to that parent "You should have been there, how dare you trust your kid to some daycare?"

      At some point, AOL WAS responsible for this.
    • Re:Parents (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:28PM (#12265821)
      And a parent who never, ever let's their kid out of their sight, especially when they are 14/15/16, is even more abusive. Kids have to be allowed some freedom. Within ever increasing limits, of course.

      The AOL kid chat rooms were specifically advertised as being monitored and safe. This one was not.

      As a parent, you cannot, indeed should not, be by your teenagers side 24/7.

  • by sfcat (872532) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:59PM (#12265627)
    AOL monitor. Seriously, don't they do background checks for this type of job. I understand not doing them for most jobs, but this type of job, you would think it would be par for the course. But I guess if he doesn't have a record and she was only 17 at the time and if he was like 21-24 its not that bad (illegal, but not like he was 45). But what is really sad is that she is the one sueing. She made the decision to meet someone from a chat room and now is sueing because she was allowed to meet the guy. Sounds like sueing for dollars more than anything. Isn't America great...
    • From the friendly article:

      Graham said AOL puts its chat room monitors through "rigorous screening and training procedures," including a criminal background check.

      and

      The man, who was 23 when he met the girl online, has not been charged with a crime.
    • by Frogbert (589961) <`frogbert' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:28PM (#12265820)
      First of all she was 17, in many, many, countries this is exceeding the age of consent so its either saying that american girls are typically more innocent then the rest of the world, or the people running the show in your country are a bunch of prudes.

      Secondly the guy isn't a pedophile because she isn't exactly prepubescent. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to girls who have gone through puberty no matter what their age, its a biological thing.

      Regardless the best job for a pedophile would be in the clergy or as a scout master or something, many more people are wary to meet someone off the internet these days, and besides why put in all the effort when you could just have the parents bring their kids to you.
      • ... 17, in many, many, countries this is exceeding the age of consent so its either saying that american girls are typically more innocent then the rest of the world, or the people running the show in your country are a bunch of prudes.

        ... or the fact that our (American) society expects people under the age of consent not to be having sex. We aren't trying to be prudes or whatever warped reality you think we have, it's the level of society we've built for ourselves. In America, we all agree that girls
        • by Frogbert (589961) <`frogbert' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:37AM (#12267237)
          Where I'm from (not Slovakia.. although its a great place for hosting a webpage) the age of consent is generally 16, it can vary from state to state and depends on other things like the sex of your partner (and that rule is rarely enforced, if ever) or their age sometimes its a bit less sometimes its a bit more but in general 16. Charges are almost unheard of because in general people believe that if some teenager is having sex with another teenager then who are we to judge. They get given condoms and are told how to use them so we don't care if they go at it.

          I seriously doubt everyone but religous prudes believe that these laws stop people having sex. It perhaps makes them regret it later when their girlfriends crazy parents come along and press charges but it doesn't stop shit.

          I can tell you right now that as soon as children start going through puberty they are going to be interested in sex. The reason girls used to get married so young (ie. 12) not 50 years ago is because before birth control they got pregnant and it was the socialy accepted norm that she was to be married. These days teenagers are having sex at the same age as they always did, its just that with propper birthcontrol use they don't have to worry as much about kids.

          Don't even get me started about contributing members of society, as soon as you start paying taxes (15 in your country IIRC) you should have the right to get a leg up.

          To summerize, those laws do nothing to stop people from having sex and those who believe they do are fooling themselves. If anything they would stop girls telling their mothers that the condom broke and they need a morning after pill.
      • by merlin_jim (302773) <James.McCrackenNO@SPAMstratapult.com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:39AM (#12266555)
        There is nothing wrong with being attracted to girls who have gone through puberty no matter what their age, its a biological thing.

        This reminds me... a friend of mine (with a degree in biology) is fond of pointing out that there are excellent evolutionary reasons to be attracted to the youngest post-puberty potential mates...
    • by tgibbs (83782) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:15PM (#12266115)
      AOL monitor. Seriously, don't they do background checks for this type of job. I understand not doing them for most jobs, but this type of job, you would think it would be par for the course. But I guess if he doesn't have a record and she was only 17 at the time and if he was like 21-24 its not that bad (illegal, but not like he was 45). But what is really sad is that she is the one sueing. She made the decision to meet someone from a chat room and now is sueing because she was allowed to meet the guy. Sounds like sueing for dollars more than anything. Isn't America great...

      I don't feel a lot of sympathy for the sort of guy who takes advantage of a professional relationship to seduce somebody who is (at least initially) underage, inexperienced, and in emotional turmoil. And it would not surprise me if, with a little time to reflect upon what happened, the young woman felt that his behavior toward her was unethical. Regardless of whether it would have been legal or illegal for him to have sex with her in that state, it seems like AOL has an obligation to supervise the activities of its chat room monitors and make sure that they are in accord with company policies and the representations that AOL has made to customers.
  • by Ninwa (583633) <jbleau@gmail.com> on Sunday April 17, 2005 @09:59PM (#12265631) Homepage Journal
    She was fifteen, she'd had the talk about the birds and the bees. I find it hard to believe that people are seduced into sex, and this was only considered seducing after he had been talking to her for two years. Most teenagers don't know eachother for two days and they get it on like jack rabbits. If anything I applaud his patience.
  • Age of Consent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:04PM (#12265653) Homepage Journal
    What's the age of consent in California? In Pennsylvania, if they had sex after she turned 16, they'd be in the clear, if I understand my age of consent laws correctly (85% sure).
  • by venicebeach (702856) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:07PM (#12265669) Homepage Journal

    Who's watching the watchers?

    Sounds like they are watching each other.

  • MSN (Score:4, Informative)

    by nighty5 (615965) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:09PM (#12265680)
    Thats why MSN Chat is no longer available.

    A shame that a few bad apples have spoiled it for the rest of us. MSN Chat was a great way to meet everyday people instead of the geeky IRC chat.

    • by PornMaster (749461) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:28PM (#12265823) Homepage
      Should you really be talking up a Microsoft app/service and putting down IRC *on Slashdot*? :)
    • Re:MSN (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zakezuke (229119)
      Thats why MSN Chat is no longer available.

      MSN chat is still around. You have to subscribe to a Microsoft service in order to gain access to MSN chat, or join up one of the free channels if they are still around. I seem to remember CA, usually Canada or Centra Australia depending on the hour, was free. If you pay for hotmail, have an dialup/dsl account, or use webtv (if that's even still supported), you could access MSN chat. Prior subscribers, and those who created a @MSN.com hotmail account also see
  • What is the crime? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shamir_k (222154) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:11PM (#12265706) Homepage
    According to the story, they met online when she was 15, and he was in his early 20s. Two years later, when she was 17, they arranged to meet for sex. As far as I know, the age of consent is 16, meaning that a 17 year old can legally agree to have sex with an older person. I don't see how the monitor committed a crime, unless he propositioned her before she turned 16, and that might be difficult to prove in court.
    As for AOL being liable, that's a stretch too. They probably disclaim all liability in their terms of use, and unless she can prove some fraud or negligence on the part of the employee, I don't see how they can be held liable.
    This whole story smacks of a frivolous lawsuit by somebody who just realised that she might be able to embarass a big company into settling rather than face publicity.
    • by fermion (181285) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:38PM (#12265895) Homepage Journal
      There is not crime. This is not a criminal trail. It is a lawsuit. And it is certainly not frivolous. AOL marketed thier service as superior to other services based on the fact that service was monitored. They claimed in advertising that the service was worth the extra money because of the added security. They fed off the paranoa of parents, who were the one likely paying for the service, by explicitely claiming added security. Security that was clearly not realized, at least in this particular case.

      The age of consent has nothing to do with it. The expectation based on AOL advertising was that minors would be protected from predators. The fact that a rape victim is 16 does not automatically mean that the victim in fact consented, or that a possible lapse in promised security did not in fact provide the means for the rape.

      And they absolutely can be liable. If a firm offers a service, they cannot then state the service does not in fact exist, or is of no value. That is bait and switch. I cannot, for instance, open a store, say that a product is available, and then not have the product available. Even the cheapest of stores guarantees product availability for at least on day. Under your logic, I can claim to provide DSL speed, but only offer analog telephone modem lines. All I have to do is send a note with the shipped package saying that all service is analog modem. The standards of product offers and prices have been set for quite a while. If a firm is going to offer something, they better provide it. Even an disclaimer is often not enough.

    • by venicebeach (702856) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:42PM (#12265927) Homepage Journal
      Well, aside from the technicaliites of the law, even if he didn't committ a crime (I think age of consent varies by state) this is pretty sketchy. This guy's job was to protect kids from being propositioned for sex - it's pretty sleazy to use that position to monitor chatrooms until the girls become "barely legal" and then go for it...

  • by AvantLegion (595806) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:25PM (#12265803) Journal
    >> Their conversations online and by phone became increasingly explicit, the lawsuit says. They were preparing to meet on the girl's 17th birthday when one of the monitor's co-workers became suspicious and prevented the encounter.

    OMFG what a cockblock that was.

  • Math? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoseBag (243097) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @10:58PM (#12265998)
    "The incident happened 2 years ago, but has become public this week because the lawsuit was just filed by the girl, now 19."

    Headline "15 year-old..."

    Uh...15...plus 2..."girl now 19"....uh...
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:05PM (#12266060)
    Require ppl to be 18 or older to access the internet.

    Then no one will whine anymore about kids being predatored online.
  • by kiddailey (165202) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:15PM (#12266109) Homepage

    Let me get this straight:

    She meets this guy online.

    She chats with the guy online.

    She gives the guy her phone number.

    She talks to the guy on the phone.

    They have increasingly explicit conversations.

    She claims emotional distress.

    Distress from what exactly? Her escapades with this dufus, or the fact that her parents divorced and she has trouble making friends (as stated in the article)?

    I'm sorry, but I find it hard to believe that a girl age 15 - 17 doesn't know what she's doing -- especially when she is old enough to drive and obviously smart enough to sue a company like AOL 2 years later.

    And where are the parents in all this? Didn't they teach their kid responsibility and give her the power to say "no?" Why was it even possible for this girl to virtually hang out and chat with this guy for two years and plan a get-together without them being involved or in the know? Did they themselves coerce her into suing AOL?

    This doesn't add up.

    AOL's parent controls are not a substitute for proper parenting.
    • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:06AM (#12266373)
      I know every body loves to blame the victim, but it is completely immaterial whether at 15 she was smart enough not to hook up with that guy. Fact is that AOL made a representation that their chat rooms were safe for kids, and they should be held to that.

      That's like an someone selling you a waterproof watch which breaks the moment you step into water, and then the seller saying "you are stupid to swim with your watch on" as an excuse.

  • by piecewise (169377) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:19PM (#12266130) Journal
    a/s/l? is she hot?

    In all seriousness - What's best about this story is that she's actually a 40 year old man, much to the disappointment of the AOL employee.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 17, 2005 @11:31PM (#12266196)
    ...age of consent in every country and state

    http://www.ageofconsent.com/ [ageofconsent.com]
  • by SonicSpike (242293) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:40AM (#12266837) Homepage Journal
    "You've Got Jail!"

    sorry yall... I couldn't resist ;-)
  • translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maxpublic (450413) on Monday April 18, 2005 @02:19AM (#12267009) Homepage
    They were preparing to meet on the girl's 17th birthday when one of the monitor's co-workers became suspicious and prevented the encounter.

    Read: "a male coworker, pissed off that he wasn't getting any 17-year-old action (or any at all, probably; he DOES work for AOL), decided to ruin things for everyone on the theory that 'if I'm not having sex, he doesn't get to have it either'".

    Max
  • by untaken_name (660789) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:07AM (#12268010) Homepage
    AOL Monitor Accused of Luring 15-Year-Old for Sex

    The incident happened 2 years ago

    but has become public this week because the lawsuit was just filed by the girl, now 19

    It isn't the seduction, or that it was an AOL monitor that did it. Nope, the biggest story is how she could go from 15 years old to 19 years old in only two years.

    Spooky.

    Now I need to figure out what she's doing, and do the exact opposite.

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