Parents Sue Facebook Over Online Corpse Photo

March 30, 2011
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imageSTATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Their daughter?s brutal murder crushed them, and a Rosebank couple?s grief only grew when an emergency medical technician posted photos of her badly beaten corpse on Facebook.

Their emotions still raw yesterday, two years to the day that Caroline Wimmer was slain, Martha and Ronald Wimmer announced they have sued Facebook, the social networking site; Mark Musarella, the emergency medical technician who posted the photo; the city; the apartment complex where their daughter lived, and others.

“I?m just very upset and traumatized over all this,” said Mrs. Wimmer, of Rosebank, fighting back tears on the steps of state Supreme Court, St. George. “I haven?t had a chance to heal yet. This is the second anniversary. We really need to improve our laws in New York. … My daughter?s picture was on the Internet and I can?t get it back.”

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Prosecutors said Brooklyn resident Calvin Lawson killed Ms. Wimmer, 26, on March 28, 2009, over allegations that she?d told his girlfriend, the mother of his two children, that he was cheating on her with another woman.

Her parents found her lifeless body two days later in her Greenleaf Avenue home. She had been beaten and strangled with the cord of a hair dryer.

Musarella, who responded to the apartment on March 30, 2009, on a radio call, snapped a photo with his BlackBerry of Ms. Wimmer?s corpse. Afterward, he posted the shot on his Facebook.com page.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages from most of the defendants, but only injunctive relief from Facebook.

The Wimmers? lawyer, Ravi Batra of Manhattan, said federal law provides Facebook “absolute immunity” as a “supposed … nonprofit community bulletin board” from being sued for cash compensation.

He said his clients seek the return of any images of their daughter uploaded onto Facebook databases and the subsequent destruction of those images by Facebook. They also want the identities of any Facebook users who accessed or downloaded Ms. Wimmer?s photos.

“To know those pictures are on Facebook for anyone to see kills me,” said Christina Criscitiello, the victim?s older sister, her voice cracking. “She was brutally beaten. I feel like Mark Musarella took the last shred of dignity she had left. I can?t get those images out of my head. and I don?t want anybody else to see them.”

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