Lizz Ashton arrested based only on Facebook photo

A Toronto artist was arrested, charged with assault and forced to pay $3,000 in legal bills because someone pointed to her photo on Facebook and told police she was the person who assaulted her.

Because of privacy settings, the photo couldn't have been bigger than a thumbnail.

It all started for Lizz Ashton, who tells the Toronto Star she has never been in a fight before, in January when she received an email from Toronto police asking her about an incident at the Piston bar on Bloor St. The incident reportedly took place in November.

Ashton called police who told her a woman was assaulted at the bar and identified her as the assailant after seeing a picture on Facebook. Ashton then went to the police station and showed the police text messages proving she wasn't at the bar when it occurred and said she was with her boyfriend later in the evening.

"[The officer] said, 'It doesn't matter, I'm going to have to arrest you anyways,'" she told NOW Toronto. "I got handcuffed and searched. They put me in a holding cell."

After an hour in the cell she was released, but had to sign an agreement indicating she would avoid the bar, alcohol and the victim. The final part of the agreement was a challenge because while she knew where the bar was, she had no idea who the victim was or what she looked like.

Ashton told NOW she doesn't believe the police investigated anyone else saying, "It's just a lot of laziness on their part."

Police spokesperson Tony Vella defends the officers' actions telling the Toronto Star, "We believed there were reasonable grounds to arrest her."

He said the accuser trawled Facebook, found Ashton's photo and gave it to police weeks after the incident.

Unfortunately for Ashton, even though all the charges have been dropped she still needed a lawyer and while he gave her a reduced rate, she was still left with a bill of $3,000.

"I had to move out of my apartment and moved in with my boyfriend to save the money to pay the bill," she said to the Star.

However there is a piece of good news. Her friends at the Piston are putting together a fundraiser on June 7 to help her out.

(Image from Ashton's blog)