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Preteen girls charged with cyberstalking near Seattle

By Elaine Porterfield

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Two girls aged 11 and 12 were charged on Tuesday with first-degree computer trespassing and cyberstalking for allegedly posting sexually explicit photos and comments on the Facebook page of a 12-year-old classmate.

The two girls charged in the case also are accused of using the third girl's computer address to send out instant message solicitations for sex using her name.

The children involved are all middle-school classmates and live in the suburban city of Issaquah, east of Seattle.

The two accused offenders are believed to be the youngest individuals ever charged with cyberstalking and computer trespassing in King County, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

One of them told investigators that she and the victim had been friends but had recently had a "falling out," according to charging documents filed in court. The documents said she gained access to the victim's Facebook account password during a visit while they were still friends.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a prepared statement that charges were brought against the two girls despite their young age because youngsters need to know that their Internet actions can have serious consequences.

If convicted as charged, each girl faces a sentence of up to 30 days in juvenile detention. The 12-year-old defendant will be arraigned in Juvenile Court on May 10.

The 11-year-old is due for a court scheduling conference on May 3 and faces a second proceeding, called a capacity hearing, on May 10, to determine whether she understands that her actions were wrong and was capable of committing a crime.

State law presumes that children aged 8 to 11 are not capable of committing crimes.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan)

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