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Lawyer: Facebook refusing to comply with court order in Northwood sexual assault case

A Northwood man charged with sexually assaulting a young girl is fighting with Facebook for access to account information he believes could call his accuser’s credibility into question.

A Rockingham County Superior Court judge in March ordered the social media company to comply with 48-year-old Eddy Folland’s request, according to a motion filed by the man’s lawyers. Facebook, though, has refused to hand over the information being sought, according to court documents.

Folland’s lawyers haven’t described in detail what they’re asking Facebook to provide, and much of the court file is sealed from public view.

But in a motion filed last month, the attorneys said the information requested could help assess whether the now 14-year-old girl who has accused Folland of abuse has a “propensity toward telling fictitious stories.”

Folland has been charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting the girl between March 2010 and March 2012 in Northwood, starting when she was about 11 years old. Folland is accused of performing oral sex on the girl, forcing her to rub his penis and touching her vagina and breasts.

Folland was charged in August 2012 and has been held at the Rockingham County jail on $5,040 cash bail since that time, according to a jail official. His case is scheduled to go to trial later this month.

Because the dispute with Facebook may not be settled by then, Folland’s lawyers recently asked a judge to order that the girl not destroy or damage her computer before the trial.

“At this time, the defense is not asking the computer be seized, but may need to make that request in the future if Facebook continues to refuse to respond to this court’s order,” the attorneys wrote in the motion.

Judge Marguerite Wageling granted the request.

Folland is facing one charge of aggravated felonious sexual assault and three counts of felonious sexual assault.

Tara Witt, one of Folland’s court-appointed lawyers, did not return a request for comment made yesterday.

A spokesman from Facebook declined to comment on the case. The company has complied with court orders in the past.

In March, a Brazilian judge ordered Facebook to remove a memorial page set up for a 24-year-old woman who had died following complications from a surgery, according to news reports. The woman’s mother argued in court that the comments posted on the page were distressing to her, and the page was taken down following the judge’s order.

In June 2012, a woman from Britain won a high-profile quest to find out the names of individuals who had bullied her online by creating fake profiles for her and using them to send sexually explicit messages to children, according to news reports. Facebook, saying there is no place for bullying on its site, did not fight that order and handed over information about the fake profiles to the woman’s lawyer. In August 2012, one man was arrested in connection to the harassment, according to news reports.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or
tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)

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