A mother in Michigan is facing five felony charges after allegedly sending thousands of bullying messages to teens—including her own daughter. Prosecutors say the harassment began in early 2021 when Kendra Licari was working as a basketball coach at her daughter's school. The 42-year-old actually helped investigate the messages when her daughter and the daughter's then-boyfriend first complained to Beal City Public Schools, per ABC News and the Morning Sun. Police became involved, however, when it became clear that many messages were received away from school. But "even when we realized that it wasn't a kid, we weren't expecting that it would be a parent," Superintendent William Chilman tells ABC.
Authorities, who worked with the FBI's computer crime division, found Licari had tried to mask her identity and location using fake numbers and virtual private networks, Isabella County prosecuting attorney David Barberi tells the Sun. "But eventually, we were able to see that her IP address was popping in and out right before and right after these messages were going through," he says, per ABC. "The digital footprint was just insane," he continues, alleging Licari sent a dozen texts a day for months. "We had tens of thousands of text messages" sent to Licari's daughter and her daughter's friends. "It was mostly just harassing-type text messages, demeaning, demoralizing, and just mean texts," he adds, per People.
Barberi tells WKRC that the case might be "a version of 'cyber Munchausen's syndrome' … where you're making somebody feel bad" so they go to that person for comfort. "It was a shock to all of us, I think everybody involved," Chilman tells ABC. Licari, who allegedly confessed, was charged Monday with two counts of stalking a minor, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and one count of obstruction of justice related to alleged attempts to frame another student, per the Sun. If convicted, she faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for using a computer to commit a crime and a maximum of five years for each of the other counts, per People. Released from custody on $5,000 bond, she is next due in court on Dec. 29. (Read more cyberbullying stories.)