DOCUMENT: Internet, Crime

Collegian Busted For Vile Threats On Site

FBI alleges student, 19, targeted girl from hometown


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DECEMBER 19--The FBI last night arrested a college student for allegedly sending a series of vile threats to a 14-year-old girl via a popular social networking web site that has been criticized for facilitating such anonymous bullying and harassment, The Smoking Gun has learned.

According to federal investigators, Rishi Ragsdale, a 19-year-old University of Wisconsin student, sent the threats in mid-October on, a Latvia-based web site with more than 70 million registered users.

As detailed in an FBI affidavit, the web site allows users to anonymously “interact by asking and answering questions” like “What would you do if you won the lotto?”

While logged on to her account, the girl posed the question “Do you go to Skyline,” a reference to a high school in her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ragsdale, who attended Skyline High School, allegedly responded to that query with “answers” that prompted the girl’s alarmed parents to contact law enforcement authorities.

The affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Malia Pereira alleges that Ragsdale, pictured in the above mug shot, sent the teen a series of violent and sexually graphic messages. The victim’s parents, Pereira added, were particularly concerned since the girl’s account was linked to her Facebook and Twitter profiles, leaving her identifiable.

Investigators tracked the threatening posts back to Ragsdale through an IP address provided by An analysis of subpoenaed University of Wisconsin records indicated that the IP address was assigned to Ragsdale’s student account, and that the “rragsdale” account accessed the girl’s profile page on the evening the threats were sent.

During a search yesterday at his Madison residence, Ragsdale stated that he “didn’t know what ‘this’ was about,” claimed to be confused, and “ultimately requested a lawyer.”

Ragsdale was subsequently arrested for transmitting a threat, a felony carrying a maximum five-year prison term. The physics student--whose parents are University of Michigan professors--made his initial court appearance today in U.S. District Court in Madison, where a magistrate ordered him locked up in advance of a December 23 detention hearing., which has been rapidly growing, has been widely criticized for the anonymity it affords users seeking to taunt and harass others. In fact, media reports have attributed the suicides of several teenagers to the merciless bullying they suffered via

In August, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for an advertising boycott of the site after a 14-year-old English girl killed herself after being bullied on the site. In September, a 12-year-old Florida girl jumped to her death after being tormented on and several other social media sites. Police arrested two girls--aged 12 and 14--in connection with that online terror campaign, though criminal charges were dropped last month by state prosecutors. (7 pages)