Signal Article 2-12-09

Deputies Prowl the Web for Cyber Bully
Court Order Sent to YouTube in Spalla Hacking Incident

By Brian Charles
Signal Staff Writer

Brian Charles Photo

Feb. 12, 2009

Local Sheriff's Deputies mailed a court order to YouTube Wednesday in hopes the company can help catch a cyber bully, a sheriff's official said.

The court order is the second sent by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Deputies seeking information in the Sean Spalla-YouTube hacking incident, Lt. Brenda Cambra said.

YouTube officials declined to comment on the court order or the Sheriff's investigation.

Hackers changed Spalla's password Dec. 12 and posted bloody and pornographic pictures. The altered password kept Spalla from accessing the account and deleting the page, Spalla said.

The pictures were gone Jan. 5, but hackers created a link that took visitors to another page with the same offensive content, said Karee Spalla, Sean Spalla's mother.


The first court order demanded YouTube, which Google owns, hand over records that identified the Internet protocol addresses of the hacker who broke into the account, Cambra said.

Internet protocol addresses allow Internet providers and Web sites to track a person's activity on the Internet.

Deputies sifted through that information and sent YouTube a second court order aimed at linking the Internet protocol addresses with an actual person, she said.

"We are taking this very seriously. This case has overtones of taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable," Cambra said.

Jeff Lasater, father of Vasquez High School suicide victim Jeremiah Lasater, started Project 51 to aid kids targeted by bullies. Bullying might have played a role in Jeremiah Lasater's suicide.

Jeff Lasater looks at the deputies' progress in the Sean Spalla case as a sign the tide is turning on bullies.

"(Sheriff's deputies) are finally stepping up and seeing that this is a crime," Jeff Lasater said.


Karee Spalla turned to Project 51 in December shortly after the bullying began.

"Next, we have to get into the school districts and promote this to more kids," Lasater added.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted Project 51 and assigned the L.A. County Education Coordinating Council to help Lasater, Vasquez High School and the Acton-Agua Dulce School District integrate Project 51 into the district's antibullying efforts.

The decision came days before AB 86 took effect and gave school districts the ability to suspend and expel bullies.

California State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, voted for AB 86 and is an advocate for anti-bullying efforts.

"The message to bullies is that if you extend into the cyber world, you'll be punished," Smyth said.