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Boston and Beyond

February 18, 2014

Woman charged with using Pinterest to violate restraining order, harass daughter

BEVERLY — It’s a place where most users post images of their favorite wedding dresses, a recipe that they want to try or inspirational quotes — often shared between mothers and daughters.

But police say a Beverly woman used a Pinterest account to violate a restraining order and harass her estranged daughter last year.

It’s just the latest example of how the law is struggling to keep up with technology and social media.

Last December, a Beverly man, Thomas Gagnon, was arrested and charged with violating a restraining order after his ex-girlfriend received a Google Plus invitation, purportedly from him.

It turns out he’s not the only North Shore resident so accused.

When Rebecca Shaw’s daughter received an email last June announcing that Shaw was now “following” her Pinterest page, she went to police, who arrested Shaw, 56, on a charge of violating a domestic restraining order. She was set to stand trial last week, but the case was postponed because of the snowstorm.

Shaw and her attorney argue that there is no proof that Shaw is the person who actually created the account in her name that was used to peek at the daughter’s page. They are trying to prevent prosecutors from using the email, and the page purportedly created by Shaw, when the case goes to trial. The page was filled with disparaging comments about Shaw’s daughter and others.

“Anyone who knows both of them could have created this site,” argued lawyer Susan Costa.

Even if the page did belong to Shaw, it is not a violation of the restraining order, her lawyer believes, because the email to the daughter was generated by Pinterest, not their client.

But prosecutors believe she was behind the page, pointing to details that were incorporated in Shaw’s own page and her past history of violating orders. They say she knew her daughter would see it, as well as the email.

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