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Prosecutors cut plans to rein in MySpace teen

Prosecutors on Thursday agreed to withdraw a petition calling for court supervision for a 17-year-old girl who flew to the Middle East — 6,000 miles — to be with a man she met on
Katherine Lester, Terry Lester
Terry Lester escorts his daughter Katherine Lester, left, from the Tuscola County Courthouse in Caro, Mich., on Thursday. Carlos Osorio / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prosecutors on Thursday agreed to withdraw a petition calling for court supervision for a 17-year-old who flew to the Middle East to be with a man she met on

The decision was part of an agreement reached between Katherine Lester, her parents and the Tuscola County prosecutor’s office. She must surrender her passport, complete counseling and not leave the state without written consent from her parents or a court order.

If Lester fails to comply with any of the terms, the prosecutor’s office may reauthorize its runaway juvenile petition, under which a judge could place her under court supervision until she turns 18 next June 21.

Lester left the courthouse in Caro without commenting to reporters.

She was 16 when she developed a romance with a man 6,000 miles away, in the West Bank town of Jericho, through messages sent on MySpace.

In every other aspect, the 16-year-old girl appeared to have a typical teenage life. Family members say she kept up good grades and went on two dates. But all along, she was crafting a plan to visit him, authorities said, securing a passport by telling her parents she wanted to go to Canada with friends.

From Michigan to Jordan
Her secret was uncovered earlier this month, when she slipped out of her mother’s home in rural Michigan and made it as far as Amman, Jordan, before being sent home by U.S. authorities. Authorities don’t think any local or state laws were broken, but the FBI continues to investigate.

MySpace, a social networking Web site popular with teenagers, has raised concerns among U.S. authorities, with scattered accounts of sexual predators targeting minors on the site.

Lester is now living with her father, Terry, near Flint. In an interview last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” she declared her love for Abdullah Jimzawi, a 20-year-old Palestinian who works in his father’s business delivering goods to minimarkets. She said she still wants to marry him.

Jimzawi, in a recent interview with the AP, said he met Lester online about eight months ago and was devastated when he learned they would not meet face-to-face. Jimzawi’s mother, Sana, said Lester intended to sign a marriage contract in Jericho.

Terry Lester has declined requests from The Associated Press to interview his daughter but says her story should serve as a warning to families — not about the dangers of the Internet, but about the importance of good family communication.

“She’s her same old self,” he said. “She knows what she did was wrong, and she’s willing to accept the responsibility.”