DETROIT – Authorities filed a runaway juvenile petition against a Michigan teenager who flew to the Middle East to be with a man she met on the MySpace.com Internet site.
The paperwork was filed Monday in Tuscola County Family Court against Katherine Lester of Gilford, said Kyle Jaskula, the court administrator.
At a hearing Monday, Judge W. Wallace Kent Jr. ordered Lester to give up her passport and undergo counseling. He did not rule on the validity of the petition.
If the judge finds that Lester was a runaway, she could be placed under court supervision until she turns 18. Such supervision usually means she would be monitored by a probation officer and made to undergo counseling, Jaskula said. Further hearings have not been scheduled.
Prosecutor Mark Reene said his office filed the petition out of concern for Lester's safety after talking to her family and the sheriff's office.
Lester, who turns 17 on Wednesday, was en route to a Tel Aviv, Israel, airport when she was intercepted in Amman, Jordan, by U.S. authorities who seized her passport and put her on a flight back to the United States.
She was traveling to be with Abdullah Jimzawi, a 20-year-old high school dropout who lives with his parents in Jericho, West Bank. They met through MySpace.com, a social networking Web site whose popularity with teenagers has raised concerns among U.S. authorities, with scattered accounts of sexual predators targeting minors on the site.
Jimzawi, in a recent interview with The Associated Press, said he loves the girl and the two planned to marry. She was to convert to Islam, he said.
Lester has not spoken to reporters since returning to the United States on June 9. A message left Tuesday with her father seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Reene said that in court, Lester had a positive attitude and appeared to be receptive to the efforts to help her. Counselors will explain to her the impact of leaving the country and talk about the different culture she would face in the West Bank, Reene said.
"There are so many things she needs to fully understand," he said. "We want to take every available step to inform her, give her the opportunity to make the best decision."