Teen finds out anonymous internet bully who harassed her for a year is actually her mom
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Featured Image Credit: Isabella County Jail / Westend61/Getty
Online anonymity has its plus sides - it can help to keep people's more important and private information under wraps and away from potential scammers.
But there's also a major downside to the fact we can hide our identities online. Being able to hide behind a screen means online trolls and bullies can say whatever they like - and rarely have to face the consequences.
However, when one teen from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, started receiving online hate, she could never have guessed the culprit.
Because it turns out her own mom was behind it all.
Kendra Gail Licari was charged in December 2022 following a year-long investigation which began when Beal City Schools received a complaint about cyberbullying.
It was Licari's daughter and the boy her daughter was seeing at the time who were the victims of the harassment, so Licari worked with the boy's mother and school officials to figure out who could be behind it.
Although the complaint didn't come until December when Licari was working as a girls' basketball coach at her daughter's school, Isabella County Prosecutor David Barberi said the messages began in early 2021.
The incidents took place off school grounds and without the use of school devices, and before long district officials were out of resources to trace the culprit.
The district asked for assistance from law enforcement in January 2021, and by April even the FBI's computer crime division was involved.
The federal agency was able to lock down the IP addresses used to send the messages, and soon realized they linked to Licari.
The mother used virtual private networks (VPNs) to hide her location, Barberi explained, and even made it look like the messages were coming from areas where other teenagers were located.
The prosecutor's office compiled 349 pages of harassing text and social media messages, which used slang and abbreviations to try and make it look like the messages were coming from another teen.
After she was tracked down, Licari was confronted and reportedly made a full confession about her actions. However, the reason she targeted her daughter remains unclear.
The 42-year-old mother was charged with two counts of stalking a minor, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime and one count of obstruction of justice. The latter charge alleges that the mother attempted to frame another minor for her actions during the investigation.
And in April 2023, a Michigan judge ordered Licari spend 19 months to five years in prison for stalking a minor.
Licari had pled guilty to the stalking charge, and in exchange, Isabella County Prosecutor David Barberi dropped the three additional charges.