Lori Drew Indicted in MySpace Suicide
Posted by Shaun Dawson on May 17, 2008
Lori Drew,49, of Dardenne Prairie, Mo. has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles in connection with the suicide death of Megan Meier,13. She has been charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress. If convicted on all 4 counts, she could receive a 20-year sentence.
In a case of cyberbullying, Lori Drew is accused of helping to create a fictitious MySpace account under the name of Josh Evans. The character “Josh” was used to first befriend Megan Meier and then torment her, eventually causing the 13-year-old girl to commit suicide. Read the entire story here.
Ever since her daughter’s death, Tina Meier has been battling to have Drew charged with a crime, but local prosecutors in St. Charles County, where Meier and Drew live, determined that Missouri had no laws that could be applied to the situation. Federal prosecutors in Missouri also declined to indict Drew.
In reacting to the indictment of Lori Drew, Tina Meier said she was very pleased that charges had finally been filed but that the maximum 20-year sentence, if found guilty on all counts, was insufficient.
“Twenty years to me is just a small piece of cake,” Meier told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira on Friday. “Lori Drew should truly be given a life sentence.”
“I’m hoping she gets the maximum penalty,” Meier told Vieira. “That’s what she deserves. Lori Drew played a ridiculous, childish game, and that’s exactly what it was. She probably didn’t know the outcome of what exactly happened with Meghan, but when you play games on the Internet — an adult playing with a child, playing with her mind — these are the things that can happen, and she needs to face the consequences.”
The indictment alleges that Lori Drew provided false information when she registered for the MySpace account and violated various aspects of the company’s terms of service, including prohibitions on soliciting information from anyone under 18 and using information obtained from MySpace to “harass, abuse or harm” other people. The federal statute under which Drew is charged is more often used to prosecute defendants who have hacked into computers with the intent of causing damage or improperly accessed computers for financial gain.
In other developments, Missouri legislators gave final approval to a bill that would make cyber harassment illegal. It was approved 106-23 in the House and 34-0 in the Senate and now goes to the governor. Gov. Matt Blunt issued a statement praising lawmakers for passing the measure.
“Social networking sites and technology have opened a new door for criminals and bullies to prey on their victims,” he said. “These protections ensure that our laws now have the protections and penalties needed to safeguard Missourians from Internet harassment.”