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Ex-U of Wyo. student accused of fabricating threat

July 19, 2013

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming investigators traced an online Facebook comment that included a threat of sexual violence to the personal computer of a former student who was the supposed victim of the attack, according to court documents.

Meghan Lanker-Simons, a vocal advocate for liberal causes, was the target of the graphic comment posted to the UW Crushes Facebook page that was written to appear as if it were authored by a conservative Republican. The posting raised an outcry to find the author of the post and spurred a rally against sexual violence in which Lanker-Simons participated.

But UW police said Lanker-Simons authored the comment herself.

She has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with police. The Laramie Boomerang reports (http://bit.ly/15PNaFr ) her attorneys are seeking to exclude evidence obtained by police, which prosecutors are resisting.

Attorney Charles Pelkey, who represents Lanker-Simons, declined to comment Friday beyond saying that the motion to suppress involves the computer.

A motions hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 19 in front of Circuit Court Judge Randal Arp.

Lanker-Simons gained national attention in 2010 when she filed a lawsuit against the university that forced UW to allow 1960s radical Bill Ayers on the campus for a speech on education. Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, an anti-war group from the Vietnam Era that claimed to be responsible for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

Her husband, Andrew Simons, ran unsuccessfully in 2010 as a Democrat for Wyoming secretary of state.

The comment that led to the campus police probe in April described Lanker-Simons as “that chick that runs her liberal mouth all the time.”

“One night with me and she’s gonna be a good Republican (expletive),” according to the post, which included a more explicit reference to rape.

Det. Chad Bade interviewed Lanker-Simons as part of his investigation into the comment and she denied posting it, the affidavit states.

Police received a search warrant and served it to surveymonkey.com, through which the post was sent, it says.

The website responded with an Internet Protocol address from the computer used to post the message. That information was relayed to a university information technology employee “who has helped in other cases involving information like this,” the affidavit states.

The IT employee traced the IP address to a computer named “ElComputerdeMeg” and was able to determine the user name that the computer was logged in to at the time, according to the affidavit.

“The user logged into the computer at the time was meghanm, or Meghan Michelena, also known as Meghan Lanker-Simons,” the affidavit states.


Information from: Laramie (Wyo.) Daily Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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