A cyberbully will spend 45 days in federal prison for texting lewd photos of a teen boy to the boy’s school in an alleged attempt to drive the boy to suicide.
Matthew Bean, of Bergenfield, N.J., found nude photos the boy had taken of himself when he was 12 or 13 on the site 4Chan, a notorious online forum often used as a staging ground for mass Internet attacks, according to a WSVN report.
With help from fellow 4Chan users -- who posted messages including “lets (sic) make this kid want to die” -- Bean identified the naked teen, and then forwarded the photos to administrators and teachers at the boy’s Philadelphia private school in January 2009 under the guise that he was a concerned parent.
The school called authorities, and the FBI tracked down Bean.
Bean had initially faced five years in prison in prison for possession of child pornography, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of stalking.
The victim is now in college. He was not present at Bean’s sentencing.
In court, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody called Bean’s crime “extremely malicious,” and compared it to the case of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide in September 2010 after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him having sex with another man.
“You have to be blind to what’s going on in this world not to know the effect of cyberbullying on present-day society,” Brody said.
In a court-ordered psychiatric exam, Bean explained the allure of online bullying.
“The Internet seemed safer to me,” he said, “not as dangerous as handing out the photo as someone’s school where you might get punched.”