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Teen tweets before suicide

In World News on November 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

                Ashley Billasano, 18 years old, committed suicide after tweeting 144 times over a 6 hour span. The tweets contained allegations of sexual abuse and the struggles she endured throughout her childhood. Her last few tweets explained her failed attempts at seeking justice against those who harmed her.

Many wonder why Billasano's 500 followers neglected to step in to say anything. Photo courtesy of Google images

The first case of abuse occurred at a young age by her step-father, who is now serving a sentence. Later on, at age 14, Billasano was once again sexually abused by a trusted family member. Billasano’s mother is blaming law enforcement for “failing her daughter.” The social workers failed to remove her from the home where she was sexually abused for the second time. At the time of the suicide, Billasano was not living with her mother. Her mother had no idea of the severity of her daughter’s situation.

                “She gave up. She felt like nothing was ever going to happen, nobody was ever going to believe her,” Tiffany Ruiz Leskinen, Billasano’s mother, said. “It was almost as if they were treating her like she was the one under investigation instead of her being the victim. She felt like they were really insensitive to what had gone on. They say that they did what they could to protect her, but they let her back into the home where she was abused,” Leskinen stated about Billasano’s case workers.

                “Earlier this year, Child Protective Services (CPS) conducted a thorough, five-month investigation, interviewing 11 individuals who we believed might have had relevant information to share with us. As a result of that investigation, we were unable to confirm that abuse had occurred,” Patrick Crimmins, spokesman on Texas CPS, stated. This devastating news took a toll on Billasano.

                However, assistant district attorney, Dayna Blazey, is defending the authorities and their handling of the investigation. Blazey stated that she did not know Billasano was told the case was no longer being investigated. “The status of the case is that it’s still open; it’s still pending. At this point, what we have to do is we have to go back and we have to look at the evidence that we have in this case, in light of knowing that Ashley is not going to be available to testify,” Blazey said. “Our hearts go out to Ashley and her family.”

                The criminal case against Billasano’s abuser remains open, but many wonder why Billasano’s 500 followers neglected to step in to say anything. According to reports one her last tweets was, “That’s the story of how I came to be who I am. Well, the condensed version. I’d love to hear what you have to say. But I won’t be around.”

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