Monday 24 October 2016

Italian police investigate woman's suicide after sex video went viral

Cyberbullying in the spotlight after tragic death of 31-year-old, writes Nick Squires in Rome

Nick Squires

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

Tragedy: Tiziana Cantone killed herself last week after making complaints to police and trying to remove the clip
Tragedy: Tiziana Cantone killed herself last week after making complaints to police and trying to remove the clip

Prosecutors in Italy have opened a criminal investigation into the suicide of a young woman who killed herself last week after a video of her having sex with her boyfriend went viral on the internet.

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Investigators want to establish who posted online the video of Tiziana Cantone (31), who took her own life after trying in vain to have the footage removed from multiple platforms, including porn websites.

The young woman was filmed having sex with her boyfriend and sent the footage to four male friends and contacts via the messaging service WhatsApp.

But somebody posted it online and it quickly went viral on Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube and Google, eventually attracting about a million hits.

Driven to despair, Miss Cantone left her job, moved from her home near Naples to Tuscany, made complaints to police and tried to have the clip removed from the internet.

She told police that she had sent the clip while going through a period of "fragility and depression".

She could no longer leave the house because she was being "recognised and insulted".

She suffered from panic attacks, friends shunned her and she could no longer go to the gym or the shops, she said.

Her attempts to expunge the clip from the web proved futile and she had recently been ordered to pay €20,000 in legal costs.

She killed herself last Tuesday.

The four men who received the film by WhatsApp were already being investigated for defamation, but now a fresh inquiry has been launched into charges of instigating suicide.

At her funeral last Thursday, Miss Cantone's mother collapsed in tears and had to be carried away by relatives. "Tiziana was not a porn star, she was not an escort," Maria Teresa Giglio, her mother, was quoted as saying. "She was killed by maliciousness."

The case has prompted an impassioned debate in Italy about cyberbullying, the dark power of the internet and misogyny.

"It is an atrocious, terrible business," Vincenzo De Luca, the governor of Campania, Miss Cantone's home region, said last Friday.

"We need to do more work to prevent this sort of thing from happening, starting with schools, where we've seen an increase in bullying and girls who commit suicide because of what happens on the internet. I want to send a message to girls - don't be ashamed. Everyone has moments of weakness and poor judgment."

The governor promised to pay the legal expenses of young women who find themselves in similar cases in future.

"We will pay the fees of those who stand up to extortion," Mr De Luca said.

The national debate over the suicide has been stoked by another case, in which friends of a 17-year-old girl filmed her being raped by a 22-year-old man in a nightclub lavatory and sent the footage to dozens of others on WhatsApp.

The rape happened in Rimini on the Adriatic coast, with a female friend of the drunk victim filming the sexual assault while other girls, one just 14 years old, looked on and laughed.

The teenager reported the rape to police, who are investigating.

There have been similar cases in Italy in the past few years.

In 2013 a 14-year-old girl killed herself after a sexually explicit video of her was posted on the internet.

Carolina Picchio had got drunk at a party and was molested by teenage boys. "She said she couldn't remember anything of what happened the night before," her father, Paolo Picchio, wrote in an Italian newspaper on Friday.

"She found out days afterwards, and she threw herself off the balcony, after reading the 2,600 'likes', insults and expressions of vulgarity that had been vomited up onto the anonymous world of the internet," wrote her father.

© Telegraph

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