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09/29/2011

CRIMINAL CHARGES FILED AFTER SHERIFF'S OFFICE INVESTIGATES ALTERATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS ON A PERSONAL FACEBOOK ACCOUNT


     Stephen Simmons

On June 14, 2011, the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a rural Mountain Home woman reporting that her teenage daughter’s Facebook account had been accessed by an unknown person or persons and that family photographs from the account had been modified or altered. These modifications included cutting and pasting a photo of a nude female into the photographs and indicating the photo was of the victim.

The Sheriff’s Office had five (5) subpoenas issued through the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to various internet service providers and web site services such as Yahoo and Flickr in an attempt to identify the person who had accessed the victim’s Facebook account.

Based upon information received in compliance with these subpoenas, Sheriff’s Investigator Lt. Terry Johnson was able to trace the IP address of the unauthorized Facebook access to a man residing in Mountain View, Arkansas.

On August 23, 2011, Lt. Johnson and a Special Agent with the Arkansas State Police traveled to Mountain View in Stone County to the suspect’s residence. The suspect was interviewed and admitted to unlawfully accessing the Facebook account of the victim and modifying the photos as alleged. When asked why he selected this particular family, the suspect stated he thought this was the “perfect family” and that he was infatuated with the victim. A search of the suspect’s laptop computer uncovered the existence of some 35,000 images, some of which were of the victim and her family.

Lt. Johnson obtained a warrant for the arrest of the suspect, and he surrendered himself to the Detention Center on September 28th. STEPHEN PAUL SIMMONS, 49 years old of Mountain View, Arkansas, was booked for two (2) counts of Harassment – Class A Misdemeanors. He was released from custody after posting $1,000 bond. He will appear in Baxter County District Court for arraignment on October 6th.

The investigation is continuing by Stone County authorities, and more charges are possible.

John F. Montgomery,
Baxter County Sheriff

 
 
 
 
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