An 18-year-old girl's gruesome death in a horrific car accident continues to haunt a California family as graphic crime scene photos circulate years after her tragic ending. And the parents of the victim, Nikki Catsouras, can't do a thing to stop these photos from being published online. Why? Because displaying a photo of her nearly decapitated head hanging out of a car window may be insensitive and tasteless, but it isn't a crime. From the May 4, 2009 issue of Newsweek:
Just days after Nikki's death, her father, a local real-estate agent, clicked open an e-mail that appeared to be a property listing. Onto his screen popped his daughter's bloodied face, captioned with the words "Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I'm still alive." Nikki's sisters—Danielle, 18, Christiana, 16, and Kira, 10—have managed to avoid the photos, but live in fear that they'll happen upon them. And so the Catsourases are spending thousands in legal fees in an attempt to stop strangers from displaying the grisly images—an effort that has transformed Nikki's death into a case about privacy, cyber-harassment and image control....Cyber crime expert Alexis A. Moore, who has written about women and cyberstalking for About.com, notes that this case is "a disturbing example that cyber crime and cyber harassment is here to stay. More importantly, although not all cyber acts are deemed crimes, this does not make them any less significant or severe as those crimes that are classified as class 1 felonies."
[P]hotos of the crash scene....showed up on Web sites, many of them dedicated to hard-core pornography and death. A fake MySpace page was set up in Nikki's name, where she was identified as a "stupid bitch." "That spoiled rich girl deserved it," one commenter wrote.
Do you think that the distribution and display of these photos is a crime? If it was your child, what would you do?