Trial begins for state troopers accused of hacking Facebook account
The trial of two state troopers, charged with illegally using the Facebook account of a Jim Thorpe woman began Tuesday in Carbon County court with the victim testifying.
Anthony K. Kingsley, 34, and Erin Cawley, 42, who were stationed at the Lehighton barracks at the time, face charges of unlawful use of a computer. Kingsley is charged with unlawful use of a computer, computer trespass and criminal conspiracy — unlawful use of a computer, all felonies; and a summary offense of harassment.
Cawley is charged with criminal conspiracy — unlawful use of a computer and criminal conspiracy — computer trespass, both felonies; and a summary offense of harassment.
The two were arrested by state police at the Fern Ridge barracks, but the investigation was eventually taken over by the internal affairs division of the state police. Both are currently under suspension since February 2018 when the charges were filed.
The two are accused of using the Facebook accounts of a 42-year-old woman with whom Kingsley was having an affair. They are charged with printing and deleting some of her private messages without her permission, and hacking her Facebook Messenger account.
A Palmerton woman testified that in January 2017, Cawley and Kingsley provided her with copies of Facebook messages between her now ex-husband and the victim. She said the messages confirmed her suspicions that her husband was cheating on her with the victim. The woman said she only met the victim on one occasion before, at a Fourth of July party.
She said she saw the messages in January 2017.
The woman’s ex-husband testified he knew the victim but never had a sexual relationship and was “just friends” with her. He also said the victim never asked him to spy on the two defendants, something the defense counsel alluded to earlier.
The victim testified on Tuesday afternoon for almost three hours and denied ever giving Kingsley or Cawley permission to print, delete or otherwise use any information from her Facebook account.
The woman did admit she gave Kingsley her password for her account and never directly told him to stop using it after their relationship ended.
She said the relationship ended after Cawley found out about the affair. She said Cawley came to her home on July 28, 2017, and confronted her about the relationship. She said she called police and a Jim Thorpe officer responded. No charges were filed, she said.
After that incident the victim said she contacted Kingsley by a social media account to end the affair. Cawley then learned that the victim was seeing Cawley’s ex-husband and son. She claimed Cawley then threatened her. Eventually Cawley got a court order barring the victim from having any contact with the boy.
The woman read several of the messages sent via Facebook and text messages which contained explicit details of her sexual relationship with Kingsley.
She also said when the threats and harassment continued from Cawley she called state police to report it. She was then referred to local police, who she contacted. She told investigators her private messages were being used without her permission and blamed Cawley and Kingsley, since he had her password for the Facebook account.
She said eventually Sgt. James Youngblood, of the state police internal affairs division, contacted her and interviewed her.
She said in December 2017 an investigator with the Fern Ridge barracks contacted her about the incident at her home with Cawley and her affair with Kingsley.
Under questioning from defense attorneys James A. Swetz, for Cawley, and Brett J. Riegel, for Kingsley, the woman admitted having a six-month affair with Kingsley while he was living with Cawley. Kingsley and Cawley were not married at that time but have since married and are living in the Walnutport area. It was noted at the trial Cawley was pregnant with Kingsley’s child at the time.
The victim admitted on the July 28, 2017, incident at her home, she told the responding Jim Thorpe police officer that Cawley had a right to be there because she was having an affair with her boyfriend.
The woman admitted sending a message to Cawley detailing her sexual relationship with Kingsley. The defense had her read the entire message into the record.
She denied that she sent the message to get back at Kingsley and to hurt Cawley, claiming she did it to let Cawley know “the type of person she was involved with.”
The woman also denied entering into a relationship with Cawley’s ex-husband as another way of getting back at the two troopers. She said she contacted him because of Cawley coming after her and wanted him to know what was happening.
She also admitted never telling Kingsley not to use her Facebook account after she ended their relationship. She claimed when he did use the Facebook account while they were together, he always told her in advance.
After the affair ended, she later found out about her Facebook account being used, with items being deleted and other messages being distributed to others.
The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office, represented by deputy Attorney General Rebecca Anne Elo.
The trial resumed this morning and is expected to continue the rest of the week. Judge Steven R. Serfass is presiding.