Facebook Blackmail Costs Teen Prison Time

Nineteen-year-old Anthony Stancl of Wisconsin reportedly showed no emotion as his sentence was handed down on Wednesday. Stancl pleaded no contest in December to two felonies, including repeated sexual assault of a child. Pleading no contest means that he isn’t exactly admitting “guilt”, but isn’t disagreeing with the charges, either. It means he decided not to fight the system, and instead accept punishment as set forth by the law.

Sadly, I feel that Anthony should have received far more than fifteen years behind bars, in addition to many years’ worth of counseling. The teen had been accused of creating a Facebook profile belonging to a (nonexistent) teenage girl. He then spent over a year using it to convince more than 30 of his male classmates to send in nude photos or videos of themselves. Anthony then reportedly threatened to post the photos or videos on the Internet if they didn’t engage in some sort of sexual activity with him. At least seven of the victims have said they were coerced into sex acts.

Listen up, teens: Anthony Stancl is the monster your parents warned you about. He’s the adult out there pretending to be something he’s not in order to prey on you. It really does happen, and it really could happen to you. Never EVER send photos or videos of this type to someone on the Internet. In fact, don’t send “normal” photos to someone online unless you actually know them.

You can argue with me all you like, and claim to “know” your latest online love. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, protesting that you know an online friend “better” than a physical life friend, because it’s easier to talk to them. Most of the time, you would be right. It’s that small percentage of time that you would be wrong that worries me. Unless you have met the person, you have zero way of knowing if they are who – and what – they say they are. It’s so easy to pretend to be someone you are not on the Internet. I don’t want to see anyone hurt because they didn’t stop and use their heads before doing something like Anthony Stancl’s victims did.