Buhl gets 30 days jail time, probation and ordered to stay away from victims' family
Updated 5:45 pm, Thursday, April 4, 2013
Teri Buhl, who was found guilty on misdemeanor charges of harassment and breach of peace, was sentenced to 30 days in jail, one-year probation and a strict order not to interact with the victims' family, in Norwalk Superior Court today.
The New Canaan woman was accused of harassing her then-boyfriend's daughter by posting parts of the girl's private journals online in 2010. Buhl, 40, was acquitted of interfering with a police investigation.
Buhl stood facing the judge, wearing a white blazer with black horizontal stripes and a black skirt. Her dark brown hair was done into a single braid.
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As the Judge William Wenzel read the sentence, two guards shackled her wrists together with handcuffs.
"I believe you seriously impacted the life of (the victim) and his daughter," Wenzel explained in his sentencing verdict.
"Young people make mistakes, whether with alcohol sex or drugs, and its's because they're young," he said, explaining that they don't deserve to have those mistakes publicly broadcast online.
Buhl's attorneys had asked for probation only in the sentence, given that Buhl is a first-time offender with no prior criminal history.
"I can't just excuse it," Wenzel said in his remarks.
Buhl's attorneys said they will appeal the verdict. Her bond was increased to $25,000 and her attorneys said they had $2,500 in cash with which to meet bail.
"She's not going to jail," Frank DiScala, the attorney who argued the case, said after the sentencing. During final sentencing arguments, DiScala told the judge that he has known Buhl for 25 years and can attest to her high character.
Buhl was charged in November 2010 after New Canaan police determined she posted parts of a then-17-year-old's personal journal detailing underage drinking and sexual activity at a party on Facebook. According to the prosecution's argument, on the day of New Canaan High School's graduation, Buhl created a Facebook account under the alias "Tasha Moore" onto which she posted photographs of diary entries of the then New Canaan High School senior's diary. Buhl was dating the girl's father at the time. The diary entries had been stuffed in the back of the girl's bedside drawer.
The prosecuting attorney, Donna Kursinski, attempted to show that the IP address attached to the Facebook posts was the same as Buhl's IP address, but the defense noted that there was no documentation from Facebook submitted for the record.
Wenzel made the point that since Buhl was the only one known to have had possession of the diary entries, and since all of the NCHS seniors were at graduation during the time the posts in question were made, that could be seen as evidence enough of her culpability.
The defense attempted to make an argument that Buhl's relationship with the girl and the girl's father was a good one, and therefore she had no motive to post the embarrassing diary entries, citing the statute's language of intent to harass or annoy.
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