CHICAGO (CBS) — As Chicago police question people about the apparent assault of a 15-year-old Lawndale girl — broadcast on Facebook Live — the girl’s family says they are being harassed in their own home.
At one point, 36 people watched the attack unfold, and many others shared it or watched it after the fact.
That got CBS 2’s Jim Williams wondering; what role can Facebook play in the investigation, and what happens to all those video voyeurs?
Chicago police said they’ve reached out to Facebook to find those suspected of sexually assaulting the teenager, and sources tell CBS 2 Facebook is cooperating.
Attorney Renato Mariotti sought information from the social media giant when he was investigating sexual exploitation cases as a federal prosecutor. He said Facebook was being helpful initially.
“They were because I didn’t make a request to them,” Mariotti said. “I went to them with search warrants in this first instance. I didn’t take any chances.”
It is likely, Mariotti added, that investigators will have a digital footprint that could lead them to the person who posted the assault on Facebook Live.
“When you sign up for a Facebook account, you don’t have to enter every personal detail about yourself. But Facebook will have account details of the individual who signed up and posted that video and they would also have the IP address that video was posted from.”
The fact that so many people — dozens — viewed the live video and didn’t call 9-1-1, disturbed Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“That’s, that’s, just not right,” he said.
And on Wednesday, the Chicago police Twitter account tweeted the following message:
“I definitely think it speaks to people not taking these types of crimes seriously,” said Sarah Layden, who is the interim executive director of Rape Victim Advocates. “That people would share it on social media, that would share it multiple times and that people would sit and watch it and not think to help.”
In addition to sexual assault charges, whoever posted that video could be charged with child pornography; and so could those who shared the video on Facebook.
A police spokesperson said on Wednesday that investigators are interviewing individuals and detectives are making progress.