Two Hood County middle school students face felony charges of online impersonation after rumors, threats and vulgarities were published on a fake Facebook page created in the name of a classmate, authorities say.
The girls -- ages 12 and 13 -- were arrested Monday and taken to Granbury Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said.
The 12-year-old victim and her mother reported the Facebook page to authorities June 28, Deeds said. Someone had created the profile with the student's name and a posted photograph of someone who looked similar to the victim.
"They put cuss words and made threats toward other students and basically cultivated a bad reputation for the victim," he said.
Because the victim wasn't on Facebook, she and her mother didn't realize the profile existed until it was active for about a month, he said. They had wondered why other students had started acting angry and making rude comments to the victim.
The Facebook page had 63 friends, Deeds said.
Sheriff investigators monitored the Facebook page for a couple weeks while they investigated who was behind the postings, Deeds said. One of the suspects had a "not-so-good relationship" with the victim for more than a year.
When the girls were arrested, he said, "I think they were very surprised and upset and I know there were a lot of tears when we had them in the office."
On Thursday morning, Deeds said he was uncertain whether the girls remained in juvenile detention. The county attorney will prosecute the case, he said.
The case should serve as a reminder to young people that impersonating someone online is not an innocent joke, he said. Statistics suggest most victims don't even report crime.
"It is definitely bullying and this is still fairly new with Facebook and the social media that is out there," Deeds said. "It's just like identity theft but instead of trying to get a financial gain out of it you're just flat trying to hurt someone socially. It's against the law."
Half of U.S. teens report suffering some form of cyber bullying, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.
Alex Branch, 817-390-7689