, Salem, MA

Local News

April 14, 2011

Email rates Ipswich High girls without prom dates

IPSWICH — The close-knit community of Ipswich has been sent spinning by malicious emails circulated this week rating 22 high school girls without prom dates, detailing their interests, looks and dating experience.

The messages, sent to numerous Ipswich High students on Sunday, are under investigation by the Ipswich police. The sender gained access to student email addresses through a Facebook account set up by junior class officers related to next month's prom.

The junior class officers, who alerted Principal Barry Cahill about the emails Monday morning, did not send the messages, according to a statement the schools released yesterday.

"We're trying to determine where the emails began. Whether it's a criminal matter at this point, we're not sure," said Ipswich police Lt. Dan Moriarty.

School Resource Officer Shawn Smith is working to trace the origin of the messages, Moriarty said. It's possible the sender could be charged with making threats or criminal harassment.

"We'll have to see if any of those (charges) apply at all," said Moriarty, "Or, it could be dealt with internally at the school."

According to the school's statement, the first email claimed to help juniors who might be looking for a date to the junior prom. It contained a list of 22 female students from several grades at Ipswich High, giving their age, interests and body type. A second email rated their dating experience level, assigning one to three asterisks for each student - three being the most experienced.

"My initial reaction to it was as the father of a daughter," said School Committee Member Jeffrey Loeb, whose daughter, an Ipswich High junior, saw the emails. "My focus was more personal, asking my daughter if she was a target. ... The fact that negative things were said about kids bothered her.

"What I sensed from her was that there were some comments about kids that ranged from positive to benign to cruel," said Loeb, who said he had not seen the messages about the 22 students.

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