L.A. NOW

Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Private school students' gay-bashing not free speech, court rules

March 17, 2010 | 11:04 am

Students at an elite L.A. private school who posted death threats and antigay messages on the Internet site of a 15-year-old classmate can't claim the constitutional protection of free speech, a California appeals court has ruled.

The parents of the boy targeted by the threatening and derogatory posts on his website withdrew him from Harvard-Westlake School and moved to Northern California to protect him from classmates who had incorrectly labeled him as gay and pronounced him "wanted dead or alive," the boy's father said in a lawsuit brought against six students and their parents.

The defendants had attempted to deflect the charges by seeking a judgment from Los Angeles County Superior Court that the comments were 1st Amendment-protected speech on an issue of public interest, a motion denied by the lower court and upheld by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in a 2-1 decision Monday.

The Los Angeles Police Department detective who initially investigated the hostile website postings against the student, identified only as D.C., had declined to pursue charges against the other students, saying their "annoying and immature Internet communications did not meet the criteria for criminal prosecution."

The Los Angeles County district attorney likewise declined to prosecute.

The appeals court decision separating cyber-bullying from free speech will allow the boy and his parents to move forward with their suit against the students for alleged hate crimes.

--Carol J. Williams

More breaking news in L.A. Now:

Revelers suffer burns at Persian New Year party at L.A. beach

Superior Court workers to march in downtown L.A. to protest layoffs, closures

Bank-robbery hero sues Long Beach bank

Revelers suffer burns at Persian New Year party at L.A. beach

Teenage girl shot dead while walking home with friend in Pomona

Los Angeles heat wave to continue as records fall, but cooling trend coming

St. Patrick's Day parade scrapped in L.A., but the party goes on

Woman describes attack at same lake where Chelsea King was killed

Passenger wanders off, causing brief security scare at LAX

Angels Flight closed part of Tuesday night for routine maintenance

Fatal collision snarls traffic on 5 Freeway in East Los Angeles

Victim in Woodland Hills home-invasion robbery arrested for growing pot

Human remains found near Feather River in Northern California

Malibu library to close for $5.7-million 'green' makeover

Comments 

Advertisement










Video