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Destroyed on social media ... cleared in court

CHARGES DROPPED: After being accused of attacking a girl with a mug at Schoolies Kate Nicole Szepanowski this week had the charges dropped.
CHARGES DROPPED: After being accused of attacking a girl with a mug at Schoolies Kate Nicole Szepanowski this week had the charges dropped. Claudia Baxter

WHEN pictures depicting a bloody attack on a teenage girl began circulating at schoolies last year social media erupted.

NSW schoolie Izzy Ruger accused Ipswich teenager Kate Nicole Szepanowski of bashing her with a coffee cup, leaving her covered in blood in a Gold Coast hotel. When Ms Ruger posted the picture to Facebook and posted a picture of Miss Szepanowski it went viral.

Miss Szepanowski, 19, said she started receiving abuse, death threats online and was even told to kill herself.

"I was told to find the highest building and jump off it," Miss Szepanowski said.

"People just found out who I was and decided I was guilty without knowing the truth."

This week Miss Szepanowski heard the words she'd been waiting nine months for.

The police prosecution offered no evidence and said Ms Ruger was dropping the charges.

While she walked out of the Southport Magistrate Court with her name cleared, she remains scarred from the online attacks and abuse.

Miss Szepanowski, who works as a medical receptionist, said she was at the Gold Coast not as a schoolie, but was spending time with friends who had graduated from high school.

She said her decision to go to schoolies with her friends was a one she now regretted.

Miss Szepanowski told the QT she got into a fight with Ms Ruger on the night, who she said came into the hotel room and refused to go.

"I told her to leave, and she said 'Don't tell me to get out' and got up and pushed me," she said.

"I was drinking out of a mug at the time, and I pushed her back with it and dropped it. And there was a bit of a fight.

"My boyfriend at the time had to pull her off me."

She said soon after Ms Ruger posted the photo to social media.

"She posted some stuff on Facebook and she tagged all the different schoolies groups and that's when it went viral," she said.

"Before I shut down my Facebook people got a hold of this photo of me and my best friend, and they were saying 'These are the two girls'."

"Social media was pretty much like a tidal wave."

Miss Szepanowski said after having the charges hanging over her head for months she'd begun to feel like she'd been beaten.

But she said it was worth it to hear the police say on Wednesday the charges were being dropped.

"It was such a relief," she said.

"It was like the best feeling to hear those words.

"Even though I knew it was coming. Such a relief."

Topics:  editors picks, facebook, social media



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