Victim of bullying video withdraws from Google case

The victim of a bullying video withdrew from Italy's Google trial as the lawyers met on the case Wednesday.

The boy at the center of a trial of Google executives for alleged violations of Italy's privacy law withdrew from the case Wednesday, his lawyer said.

The trial continues, as Judge Oscar Magi accepted the role of plaintiff sought by an association that represents the interests of sufferers from Down syndrome and of Milan city council when the court met in Milan Wednesday for a second session.

The trial was adjourned to March 17 without hearing legal arguments on the substance of the case, which opened two weeks ago.

David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer; Peter Fleischer, the company's global privacy counsel; George Reyes, a former chief financial officer; and Arvind Desikan, former head of Google Video Europe, are all charged with violating privacy rules in connection with the posting on a Google video site of a cell-phone video showing a teenage Down sufferer being harassed by classmates.

The boy and his family had decided to withdraw from the case because it was not in his best interests to proceed and because Google had expressed its regret over what happened, their lawyer, Michela Malerba, said in a statement.

"The decision to withdraw from the case has been taken because Google officials have not only expressed their solidarity over what happened but have also taken concrete actions that show their sensitivity to the problems of handicapped people and the grave problem of bullying," Malerba said.

Media coverage of the affair was causing renewed humiliation for the victim, who attended school, read the newspapers and watched television, the lawyer said.

"The agreement between the boy's family and Google was a surprise to me," said Guido Camera, a lawyer representing the Vivi Down association, which originally drew attention to the existence of the bullying video in September 2006.

"No one knows the details of the agreement, but if the family of this unfortunate boy has received compensation, then I'm happy," Camera said.

A third plaintiff, a woman who claims she has been defamed by Google because it failed to update its service to include news of her acquittal in another court case, was also admitted by the judge.

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Philip Willan

IDG News Service
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