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Have you been sexually harassed online?

Sexual harassment is not confined to a physical encounter such as improper touching, or to repeated offensive comments that result in a hostile work environment. In our modern era, where certain aspects of the work and personal lives of most people are managed online, it has become very easy for identity thieves, blackmailers, cyber stalkers and others to perpetrate despicable offenses of all kinds. If you are among the victims of sexual harassment conducted on the internet, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do about it - and there is good news on that front. 

From showing to telling

Showing or passing around to coworkers websites or emails with content of a sexual nature is a form of sexual discrimination. A poll taken by the Rad Campaign, an agency that develops websites for nonprofits and advocacy groups, found that a quarter of the population in the U.S. has been victimized by online bullying, harassment or threats. A third of these people were concerned that the problem might follow them into their real lives and result in humiliation among friends and coworkers, job loss or even physical harm.

The first federal prosecution

The first person to be prosecuted for online harassment was James Robert Murphy, who in 2004 pleaded guilty to two counts of Use of a Telecommunications Device, meaning the internet, with the Intent to Annoy, Abuse, Threaten or Harass. Murphy was sending anonymous, obscene emails to his ex-girlfriend and her coworkers, as well as sexually explicit faxes. Once she was able to identify him as the perpetrator, she went to the police, who turned to the Northwest Cyber Crime Task Force for help. Part of the sentence that was eventually levied upon Murphy was 500 hours of community service and a fine of $12,000.

Do not ignore online harassment

Many people are sexually harassed online, and many try to ignore it. Much of this activity happens on social networks, which are getting better at stopping continued problems by shutting down the accounts of cyber offenders. The response by law enforcement is also improving. If you become a victim of online sexual harassment, keep a record of the date and time the incident occurred. Take a screen shot and print out hard copies. All this can be used as evidence and can help website hosts and social networks determine who is behind the harassment.

Contact an attorney

Whether you are confronted with sexual harassment in the workplace or online, you can turn to an attorney experienced with employment law. Your attorney will examine the evidence you have collected, and if the level of harassment constitutes a strong case, you can be assured of a focused and aggressive defense.

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