NewsLocal NewsGrand Rapids

Actions

Kent County man charged with cyberbullying

First person in county to be charged under new law
Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 22:22:41-05

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A Plainfield Township man is the first person in Kent County to be charged under the state’s new cyberbullying law.

Richard Kenney is accused of cyberbullying a woman by posting an image on social media last month.

Police say it was posted with the intent to threaten and put her in fear of bodily harm.

Kenney has pleaded not guilty, if convicted he could face up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

It’s kind of interesting because what you may post online may not be something we could even charge if you yelled it at somebody. It’s a rather unique law, something we are just starting to deal with right now,” Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said.

Becker did not comment directly on the Kenney case but says it’s likely the new cyberbullying law will be enforced more frequently.

“With social media, texting, Facebook whatever you may have, we are doing a lot more of it, it’s getting more violent and I think legislature folks saw a need and decided to pass this law,” Becker said. “It will be very interesting to see how this comes in especially for the freedom of speech aspect of it because that’s some of the debate I know,” added.

Kenney’s next court date has not been set but he’s also facing trial in a different case.

Police say back in September he hung an ‘explosive device’ in a neighbor’s tree, it didn’t cause any injuries or damage.

Authorities say he has a history of complaints against him.