Thread: social media suicide
11.16.11, 03:35 AM #1
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social media suicide
The mother of a Texas teen who killed herself after reportedly sending more than 140 tweets detailing years of sexual abuse spoke out on Tuesday, faulting law enforcement for failing her daughter.
Before 18-year-old Ashley Billasano took her life last week, she poured her heart out on Twitter.
She reportedly sent 144 messages in six hours, touching on allegations of sexual abuse, the pain it caused and her long struggle for justice. According to one tweet, the final straw for Billasano was a phone call telling her it was unlikely her alleged abuser would ever be prosecuted, according to the Houston Chronicle.
By Tuesday, Billasano's Twitter messages had been removed.
"She gave up. She felt like nothing was ever going to happen, nobody was ever going to believe her," Billasano's mother, Tiffany Ruiz Leskinen, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
"It was almost as if they were treating her like she was the one under investigation instead of her being the victim. She felt like they were really insensitive to what had gone on," she said, referring to officials working the case. "They say that they did what they could to protect her, but they let her back into the home where she was abused."
Billasano was not living with her mother at the time of her death.
However, Dayna Blazey, assistant district attorney at the Travis County district attorney's office, defended authorities' handling of the investigation. She told CNN's Baldwin that she was not aware of anyone in her jurisdiction telling Billasano a criminal case was not being pursued.
"The status of the case is that it's still open; it's still pending. At this point, what we have to do is we have to go back and we have to look at the evidence that we have in this case, in light of knowing that Ashley is not going to be available to testify," Blazey said. "Our hearts go out to Ashley and her family."
Similarly, Texas Child and Protective Services said that it was looking into Billasano's case.
"Earlier this year, Child Protective Services (CPS) conducted a thorough, five-month investigation, interviewing 11 individuals who we believed might have had relevant information to share with us. As a result of that investigation, we were unable to confirm that abuse had occurred," spokesman Patrick Crimmins said in a statement.
"However, because of Ashley's death, we are taking a second look at the case and our focus will be to ensure that any remaining children in the household are free from abuse," he said, confirming that her death was a suicide.
On Tuesday, Billasano's mother described her daughter as beautiful, outgoing and loving.
"She was really accepting and driven. She knew what she wanted out of life," said Ruiz Leskinen.
She said her daughter had dealt with bullying and bulimia and was sexually abused for years by a man who "was supposed to be the very one to protect her." Before her torrent of tweets, Billasano had struggled to talk about the abuse, her mother said, in part because she feared no one would believe her.
Shortly before killing herself, Billasano addressed a message to anyone paying attention to her Twitter account, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"That's the story of how I came to be who I am," she wrote, the paper reported. "Well, the condensed version. I'd love to hear what you have to say. But I won't be around."
Tweeting Suicide Victim's Alleged Abuser May Not Face Charges
Prosecutors tell FOX 26 they're not sure whether they'll be able to prove their case against Billasano's alleged attacker. The alleged abuse happened near Austin. Investigators there have been looking into the girl's claims since early this year, but her statements alone may not be enough to move forward with charges.
"Statements taken from a witness or victim many times can not be used in court in lieu of victim's testimony," said Dayna Blazey, Travis County Assistant District Attorney.
At the beginning of 2011 Billasano came forward to investigators revealing she'd been sexually abused by a family member from age 14-17.
"It's a very sick, twisted individual," said Tiffany Ruiz-Leskinen, Ashley's mother.
Billasano went to live with her mom in Rosenberg to heal and wait for charges to be filed.
"This case was not put on the backburner. It was going through the regular routine intake process this type of case would go through," said Blazey.
But Billasano had already run out of hope. Last Monday she sent out 144 desperate tweets within six hours before killing herself.
FOX 26: "How difficult is it as a prosecutor to proceed with a case when the alleged victim is no longer alive?"
Blazey: "Well it definitely presents some hurdles. We're going to have a brainstorming session because the primary question in our minds now is, 'Will we be able to prove the case without Ashley's testimony?'"
FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico says prosecutors don't have a chance.
"I don't see anyway the prosecutor could file a case for this victim because she's not here, and they can't protect the defendant's right to confront and cross examine. There is no case," said Tritico.
One of Billasano's abusers did go to prison. Allan Leskinen, then the girl's step-dad, repeatedly assaulted her when she was just seven-years-old. Over the years Travis County prosecutors say Ashley made even more claims, outside their jurisdiction, that resulted in no charges.
"If there are other victims out there, I would certainly hope they would be able to come forward and tell someone," said Blazey.
It may be the only way Ashley's alleged abuser is held accountable."Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton
11.16.11, 07:21 AM #2
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Sickening. She lived a horror story. Can't explain this kind of stuff, except it's evil!
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