A 16-year-old Texas gamer who threatened to torture and kill antigaming pundit Jack Thompson was arrested earlier today at his high school by the Harris Country Sheriff's Office, according to Thompson, a Florida attorney.
"The specifics of the torture with which Thompson was threatened are so grotesque that they cannot be properly placed in this news release," Thompson wrote in a mass e-mail addressed to news outlets, politicians, and industry groups. "The torture was to end with the shooting of Thompson, as in this teen's favorite games."
The Sheriff's Office public information officer, Lt. John Martin, could not confirm for GameSpot that the child had been arrested because the detective and sergeant assigned to the case had both left for the day. However, he did confirm that the boy had been charged with harassing communication, a misdemeanor offense. Harassing communication can either be a class B misdemeanor with jail time of up to six months and a fine up to $2,000, or a class A misdemeanor if the accused has prior convictions, which would entail up to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $4,000. Martin noted that a sentence might be handled differently because of the accused's status as a minor.
For charges in a harassing communication case to be filed, Martin noted that the burden of proof would be on the complainant (Thompson says he taped the phone call in which the threat was made). Martin also said that whether or not the harassing party actually had the means to carry out a threat was not a determining factor in bringing charges.
"The threshold for accepting charges or declining them is whether or not the complainant was in fear for his life," Martin noted, "not whether or not the complainant had the ability to carry it out. But just making threats would be an offense in itself."
In Thompson's e-mail, the attorney tied the threat to a general campaign against him on the part of the game industry.
"'Shoot the messenger' is the video game industry's strategy," Thompson wrote. "This time, because of the arrest in Texas, it didn't work. It backfired."