A bizarre case on Long Island has resulted in the arrest of a 26-year-old woman, who is accused of sending harassing messages to the mother of a child with special needs. The woman, who lives in Melville, was arrested by New York State Police and charged with aggravated harassment among other charges. Police say the woman was harassing a toddler who has a unique genetic condition causing deformity. She was due to make her first court appearance on Nov. 12, and there is no word as to whether the woman has retained criminal defense counsel.
Police have reported that the toddler who was the target of the alleged harassment was born with harlequin ichthyosis, a condition causing the skin to thicken and crack. This serious condition can lead to breathing problems and other health issues. The child’s mother has shared the story of the family’s struggle on her social media, including posts on Instagram and Facebook. She says her intent was to educate others about her daughter’s unique condition.
Apparently, the 26-year-old woman is accused of sending a number of threatening messages in response to these posts, including messages sent through traditional mail to the family’s home. She is charged with felony hate crime and stalking in addition to the harassment charges. Police have said they have not identified a clear motive for these alleged messages.
Social media has given rise to an entirely new venue for potentially threatening messages to be traded back and forth on major platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and law enforcement in New York and elsewhere is still struggling to determine how best to handle these crimes. It can still be difficult to confirm the identity of people who send these sorts of hurtful messages. This is why it is very important for the accused woman to be represented by a criminal defense attorney during her upcoming trial.