The Office of Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood announced Wednesday it would not press criminal charges in the death of Alamo Heights teenager David Molak, citing “insufficient evidence” to support claims that cyberbullying led to his death.
The announcement follows an investigation that began in early January after Molak, 16, was found dead in his backyard. The Bexar County Medical Examiner ruled his death a suicide.
Molak’s friends and family have noted on social media and in local press accounts that David was the target of bullies, first at Alamo Heights High School, and again after he transferred to San Antonio Christian School last November.
Social media comments have referred to a 15-year-old being Molak’s main bully, but he has remained unnamed in public circles. Law enforcement officials and the Alamo Heights Independent School District have not confirmed those rumors.
The reported cases of the cyberbullying of Molak included the alleged main bully posing in an Instagrammed photo with Molak’s girlfriend last October, and some classmates threatening Molak with physical harm.
David’s brother Cliff had said on his Facebook page, shortly after David’s death, that the bullies followed his brother online after he had changed schools. According to Cliff, David appeared emotionally distraught and detached from his surroundings immediately before he died.
The Bexar County District Attorney’s Office took on the case in mid-February, but declined to file criminal charges. A statement from the District Attorney’s office read: “After conducting a thorough review of the evidence submitted by the San Antonio Police Department, the DA’s Office determined there is insufficient evidence to support criminal prosecution related to criminal charges.”
“Therefore, at this time there will be no criminal charges stemming from this incident. Our Office has been in constant contact with the Molak family and their attorneys and they have been notified of this decision,” the statement continued.
David’s friends and family have since been part of a wider community effort to raise awareness of cyberbullying and how it impacts students at any age.
Following the announcement by the DA’s office Wednesday, the Molak family released a statement through The DeBerry Group, a local public relations/marketing agency:
“We are grateful to the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office and the San Antonio Police Department for so diligently investigating the cyber bullying case involving David. Unfortunately, it’s clear there were roadblocks that inhibited their investigation that we hope to address through legislation. The laws regarding this new type of social media harassment simply have not kept up with the times.
The statement continued: “Although extremely disappointed, it has only made our family more determined to pursue David’s Law that will ensure cyber bullying is a punishable offense in order to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.”
“David’s Law” is the moniker that State Sen. José Menéndez (D-23) has given to his effort to pass a bill in the 2017 Legislative session, to effectively deter cyberbullying and punish those who perpetrate it.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee agreed in February to study bullying this year and help to provide guidance on the matter going into 2017 when the legislature reconvenes.
“I anticipate we will hear testimony from judges and technology companies on how we can unmask anonymous perpetrators of these heinous social media posts,” Menéndez said in a press release in February. “Our goal is not to throw all bullies behind bars, but give law enforcement and school districts more tools to provide relief to the victims.”
In the wake of Molak’s death, Alamo Heights ISD Superintendent Kevin Brown announced the formation of a task force that could help the school district to address issues related to the causes of bullying and cyberbullying. The district issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying officials there appreciate the handling of the investigation by the police department and the DA’s office.
“As a district, we still plan to move forward with recommendations from our task force, which has spent the past three months researching character education, digital citizenship, and social and emotional wellness. The task force is set to make recommendations in June that our entire community can embrace on behalf of all our children,” the Alamo Heights ISD statement read.
It continued: “The work of the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office marks the close of the investigation, but our work on behalf of our children will continue.”
Top Image: State Sen. José Menéndez, Tribe Strength and Conditioning gym member Lesley Lilly, Maurine Molak, and Leo Vasquez listen to “Amazing Grace” before a recent event honoring David Molak’s Legacy “work out of the day.” Photo by Rachel Chaney.
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Proposed ‘David’s Law’ Tackles Cyberbullying Issues
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Alamo Heights Mourns a Teen Lost to Cyberbullying