New Michigan law proposed for cyber-bullying

- Angela Ventimiglio is a soft spoken, but unbashful political woman who isn't shy about speaking her mind about things happening in Fraser. 

She's lived there for 54 years.  But if you listen to the people trolling her on social media accounts, you'd think she's The Grinch. Literally. 

"I've called different agencies and they say when the laws catch up, then we can do something," she said. "All we can do is take a complaint. 

Ventimiglio is a senior citizen being cyber bullied. 

FOX 2: "This has affected your health?"

"I have fibromyalgia, so stress exasperates your pain," she said. "I also have stents in my heart, my blood pressure goes up. My doctors are saying try to get away from stress.  I have to stay out of the phone to get away from stress." 

Angie has taken her complaints of being called a witch, and rotten lady to police. They can't do anything about it. For now. 

A House bill is being introduced this week in Lansing which can change all of that. Rep. Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) is behind the push to protect people from being trolled and bullied. 

"This cyber-bullying law, is a law that is going to help as a tool for the prosecutors to go ahead and get those individuals that are abusive, outright just ridiculously harming those individuals and families in the state.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith says he is handed complaint after complaint but because there's no law in Michigan to prosecute, his hands are tied. 

"This is a great first step," he said. "We finally have a bill that will define what cyber bulling is."

Seniors, kids and everyone in between can fall victim. As for students in school, dealing with face to face bullying is bad enough but cyber-bullying continues long after the school bell rings. 

"What happens is one kid says something about somebody else and the next thing you know there are 100 kids saying something," Smith said. "These poor kids are getting abused online and there's nothing we can do about it right now. 

"So to me it's easy and I stress the kid’s aspect of it but I know this does not specifically apply to kids, it applies to seniors."

The conversation will kick off in Lansing tomorrow with testimony at the law and justice committee where the bill is being introduced. A conversation that's long overdue for folks like Ventimiglio. 

"And then I start blocking people and then I get residents who send me screenshots of what is being said about me," she said. "I don't feel like I can defend myself against that much."

"First Amendment is paramount because for me as a lawyer, I took an oath," Lucido said. "But it goes beyond the speech and goes into what's called destructive behavior, that's not protected speech nor did our Constitution and our founding fathers ever think it was."
 

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