A former University of Wisconsin student was recently arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly sending graphically violent and sexually explicit threats to a 14-year-old girl on a social networking site.
The affidavit for the case, obtained by The Badger Herald and embedded at the end of this post, said Rishi Ragsdale violated federal law by communicating a threat to injure another person, which could result in fines, imprisonment or both. Ragsdale, who is originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., was a junior at UW when the threats were made.
With 80 million registered users, ask.fm is one of the most popular social question and answer sites. Despite its popularity, the Latvia-based company came under fire for cyber-bullying that occurred on the site. A report from Buzzfeed linked ask.fm to at least nine suicides.
The message, which threatened sexual violence and severe bodily harm, was signed “Ok I’m almost done. I just want you to know that I’ve been saving a bucket of my cum for you. It’s almost half way full now” and was posted anonymously to the girl’s ask.fm account in response to her own question, “Do you go to Skyline?”
Skyline, according to the affidavit, is a local public high school in Ann Arbor, Mich. When contacted, Skyline High School refused to comment on whether or not Ragsdale had been enrolled as a student there. However, based on online search results, it appears he did attend the school prior to his enrollment at UW.
Ragsdale allegedly posted the threats around 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2013.
The victim and her family contacted Ann Arbor law enforcement the following day, and the FBI was contacted shortly after.
Approximately two weeks later, FBI Special Agent Sean Nicol requested the assistance of the FBI Legal Attache, the bureau’s overseas office, in Riga, Latvia, according to the affidavit. By contacting ask.fm operators, the investigators were able to determine the Internet connection information of the anonymous subject.
UW was identified as the administrator of the Internet Protocol address. With the assistance of UW Office of Campus Information Security officer Jeffrey Savoy, investigators identified Ragsdale as the account name corresponding with the IP address used to make the threats.
Federal authorities searched Ragsdale’s Madison apartment on Dec. 18, 2013. Ragsdale’s laptop computer was seized as part of the investigation. According to the affidavit, forensic analysis on the computer and Ragsdale’s cell phone are ongoing.
UW spokesperson John Lucas said the university is cooperating with the investigation in an email to The Badger Herald.
“UW-Madison is cooperating with state and federal law enforcement officials as it relates to Rishi Ragsdale,” Lucas said.
Ragsdale is not currently enrolled at UW, and the administration has taken appropriate measures to ensure the safety of its community, he said. Lucas said UW has a system to address these types of situations.
“In general, UW-Madison has a process in place to address cases of student misconduct, under UW System codes 17 & 18,” Lucas said. “Consequences can include a range of sanctions up to and including emergency suspension and, after a hearing on the merits of the allegations, expulsion,” he said.
Lucas declined to comment on any university discipline stemming from the investigation, as such information is protected under student privacy laws.
The Western District of Wisconsin U.S. Attorney’s Office will file to dismiss the charges against Ragsdale this week, and the indictment has returned to the Eastern District of Michigan.
Warning: The affidavit, embedded below, includes the text of the original threat, which contains graphic depictions of sexual violence.
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