A Collinsville couple faces one to three years in prison after they were accused of harassing a 12-year-old boy online.
According to police reports, Stacie Hamilton, 39, and Ralph Grant, 40, attacked the boy through the social media website Facebook, because he was vying for the attention of the same girl as Hamilton’s son. Police said the adults targeted the boy with racial slurs and threatening statements.
“It (was) a war of words that became racial slurs and physical threats,” said Major Brett Boerm, of the Collinsville Police Department’s Investigations division.
The mother of the 12-year-old boy reported the threats to police, Boerm said. The children go to Collinsville Middle School, according to police. The messages were sent outside of the school.
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Boerm said the harassment was first reported in April. Collinsville police took the couple into custody on Saturday after gathering the Facebook messages.
The 12-year-old victim is black, and Hamilton and Grant are both white, Boerm said.
Hamilton and Grant each face a charge of harassment by electronic communications device, which is a class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies typically carry a one-to-three year term in prison.
Hamilton had her bond set at $20,000.
Grant was being held at the Madison County Jail on $80,000 bond, as he was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
Even though the incidents took place outside of school, Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 was aware of the situation, said Superintendent Bob Green.
He added counseling is available for the youngsters involved and their well-being is being monitored.
In situations where the online harassment takes place outside of school, Green would suggest parents contact law enforcement or legal help.
The district does have policies and procedures to help deal with online and social media harassment, especially if those issues carry over into the school, Green said.
He added the district would contact parents, or even law enforcement if necessary.
“We want to have a safe environment for all our students and staff,” Green said.