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Mom accused of cyberbullying her daughter

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A Michigan woman was recently arrested after federal officials claimed that she was the cyberbully who engaged in persistent harassment of her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend for nearly 18 months.

Kendra Gail Licari, 42, of Mount Peasant, Michigan, about an hour north of Lansing, has a teenage daughter who attends school in Beal City, about 15 minutes away. Reports claim that, at some time in "early" 2021, Licari's daughter and her then-boyfriend began receiving harassing messages online. Beal City school officials were made aware of the harassment in December of that year and initiated an investigation into the source. Both Licari and the mother of her daughter's boyfriend cooperated in the investigation.

Within a month or so, school officials sought the help of law enforcement, and then local law enforcement soon afterwards solicited help from federal investigators once its own resources became exhausted. By the end of April or beginning of May, federal investigators had alerted William Chilman, the Beal City schools superintendent, that they had zeroed in on Licari as a possible suspect in the case after they allegedly tied her IP addresses to some of the messages.

On Monday, Licari was arrested and charged with two counts of stalking a minor and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime. She was also assessed one count of obstruction of justice because she allegedly attempted to pin the harassment on one of her daughter's peers. Licari was released on $5,000 bond.

David Barberi, an Isabella County prosecutor, told the media that law enforcement had compiled nearly 350 pages of harassing text and social media messages sent to the two victims, who allegedly received up to 12 such harassing messages a day. Barberi claimed that Licari would often disguise herself online by using slang and abbreviations frequently used by members of younger generations. The Macomb Daily reports that she would also make the messages appear as though they had come from out of town whenever "kids the age of the two traveled," but it is unclear whether the targeted teens were likewise out of town at the time.

Though police say that Licari eventually made a full confession, police still do not have a motive for the crime. Licari had been a girls' basketball coach for Beal City schools until at least last December, but she had been replaced at the end of the season. It is unclear whether that job or any residual tension she may have experienced after she was asked not to return could have prompted the alleged harassment.

The exact nature of the harassment is also unclear. Several outlets have characterized it as "catfishing" — the act of adopting a false persona online to fool others, often for romantic or sexual purposes — but prosecutors have released few details regarding the content. Barberi described the messages as "demeaning, demoralizing, and just mean."

Licari is scheduled to appear in court again on December 20. She faces up to 10 years for the computer crime charge and five years a piece for the stalking and obstruction allegations, if convicted.

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