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Old 01-09-2008, 07:55 AM   #46
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In a novel approach, prosecutors are looking at charging a woman who posed as a boy and sent cruel messages to teen with defrauding MySpace.

By Scott Glover and P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
January 9, 2008

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has begun issuing subpoenas in the case of a Missouri teenager who hanged herself after being rejected by the person she thought was a 16-year-old boy she met on MySpace, sources told The Times.

The case set off a national furor when it was revealed that the "boyfriend" was really a neighbor who was the mother of one of the girl's former friends.

Local and federal authorities in Missouri looked into the circumstances surrounding 13-year-old Megan Meier's 2006 death in the town of Dardenne Prairie, an upper-middle-class enclave of about 7,400 people, located northwest of St. Louis.

But after months of investigation, no charges were filed against Lori Drew for her alleged role in the hoax. Prosecutors in Missouri said they were unable to find a statute under which to pursue a criminal case.

Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, however, are exploring the possibility of charging Drew with defrauding the MySpace social networking website by allegedly creating the false account, according to the sources, who insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

The sources said prosecutors are looking at federal wire fraud and cyber fraud statutes as they consider the case. Prosecutors believe they have jurisdiction because MySpace is headquartered in Beverly Hills, the sources said.

It's still unclear who created the fictitious account. In a police report, Drew told authorities she, with the aid of a temporary employee, "instigated and monitored" a fake profile prior to Megan's suicide, "for the sole purpose of communicating" with the girl and to see what the girl was saying about Drew's daughter.

The grand jury issued several subpoenas last week, including one to MySpace and others to "witnesses in the case," sources said. One source did not know who else had received subpoenas; the other declined to provide that information.

Thomas P. O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for O'Brien, also declined to comment.

MySpace officials could not be reached for comment, nor could Drew or her husband, Curt, be reached.

Attorney Jim Briscoe, who represents Lori Drew, said: "We have no knowledge of . . . anything dealing with a grand jury anywhere dealing with this case. . . . The only comment I have is we can't comment on rumors from anonymous sources."

The news came as a shock to Tina and Ron Meier, Megan's parents. Both said they were unaware of the grand jury and had not been contacted by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

"If MySpace is considered the victim, fine. I don't care at this point," said Tina Meier, 37. "We've been begging for someone -- anyone -- to pick up this case. If the Drews can be charged -- and even get the chance to be convicted -- it would be a day I could be happy with."

Cyber-bullying has become an increasingly creepy reality, with the anonymity of video games, message boards and other online forums offering an outlet for cruel taunts.

Former federal prosecutor Brian C. Lysaght said such a prosecution would be "not as much of a reach as it might appear at first glance." In recent years, he said, Congress has passed a series of statutes that make criminal conduct involving the Internet federal offenses.

Still, it could be difficult to draw the line between constitutionally protected free speech and conduct that is illegal.

Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the idea of using a fraud charge to tackle the unusual case was "an interesting and novel approach."

"But I doubt it's really going to lead to the type of punishment people really want to see, which is this woman being held responsible for this girl's death," she said.

Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, said that if the grand jury brings an indictment, it could raise 1st Amendment issues and questions about how to fairly enforce such a law on the Internet, where pseudo-identities are common.

"This may be a net that catches a lot of people," she said.

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney who specializes in privacy and free speech issues for the legal advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the potential of this case to set legal precedent criminalizing online speech is worrying.

"The right to speak freely online is hugely important. Whistle-blowers create pseudonyms," Opsahl said. "So do many people who anonymously report on corporate or government bad practices."
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Old 01-09-2008, 11:58 AM   #47
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THis case breaks my heart.
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:15 AM   #48
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All I can say at this point is that I'm very happy with this decision.


Quote:
Mom indicted in deadly MySpace hoax


LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A Missouri mom was indicted Thursday for her alleged role in the death of a teen who killed herself over a failed Internet romance that turned out to be a hoax.

Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.

A federal indictment accuses Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, of using the social networking Web site MySpace.com to pose as a 16-year-old boy and feign romantic interest in the girl.

The girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide after her online love interest spurned her, according to prosecutors, telling her the world would be a better place without her.

Drew faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

The indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Drew and others of registering on MySpace as "Josh Evans" and using the account to lure Meier into an an online romance.

Authorities have previously said that Drew set up the account to find out what Meier, who lived in her neighborhood, was saying about her daughter.

Prosecutors allege that Drew and the others violated MySpace's terms of service by using false information to create the account so they could "harass, abuse or harm" Meier, according to the indictment.

The two corresponded for about four weeks before "Josh" broke off the relationship, authorities said. Within an hour, Meier hanged herself in her room and died the next day.

The indictment does not allege that Drew sent the final message telling Meier the world would be a better place without her. Instead, it blames her unnamed co-conspirators, who authorities have previously said include a teenage girl.

After Drew learned of the teen's suicide, the indictment alleges, she directed one of the teens involved to "keep her mouth shut" and deleted the account.

Meier's mother, Tina Meier, told CNN in November that her daughter had self-esteem issues and had struggled with depression since childhood.

She said when her daughter began receiving messages from "Josh" telling her she was pretty, she was thrilled.

When "Josh" broke off the relationship, Tina Meier said, her daughter was devastated.

"She was looking for me to help calm herself down like I always did and be there for her. And I was upset because I didn't like the language she was using, and I was angry she didn't sign off when I told her to," Tina Meier told CNN. Watch Tina Meier's reaction to the charges »

"She said to me, 'You're supposed to be my mom, you're supposed to be on my side,' and then took off running upstairs," Tina Meier said.

Tina Meier found her daughter hanging by a belt shortly afterward.

"It's as if my daughter killed herself with a gun," Meier's father, Ron, told CNN. "And it's as if they loaded the gun for her."

Drew is scheduled for arraignment in June.

"This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications," U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said in a written statement.

"Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering Web site to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences," O'Brien said.

In December, Missouri prosecutors declined to file charges against Drew, saying there was no law under which she could be charged.

"There is no way that anybody could know that talking to someone or saying that you're mean to your friends on the Internet would create a substantial risk," St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said. "Under the law, we just couldn't show that."
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:28 PM   #49
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:53 PM   #50
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To the lady who pulled off the hoax, it was a horrible thing to do.

To the prosecutors for filing charges on the lady.
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:58 PM   #51
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Fuck yes. Now there's some precedence for things like this, so people can actually be held accountable.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:35 PM   #52
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Quote:

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney who specializes in privacy and free speech issues for the legal advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the potential of this case to set legal precedent criminalizing online speech is worrying.

"The right to speak freely online is hugely important. Whistle-blowers create pseudonyms," Opsahl said. "So do many people who anonymously report on corporate or government bad practices."
This part of it seems more worrying, it could be that allowing one vile human being to walk free is less bad than getting those limits imposed.
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Old 05-17-2008, 01:33 AM   #53
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
This part of it seems more worrying, it could be that allowing one vile human being to walk free is less bad than getting those limits imposed.
While not as extreme as you, I was thinking along the same lines. The ethics involved in this whole arena are mind boggling. While I truly don't want this woman to escape with no consequences, where should one draw the line in policing internet behaviour? What if it were an adult woman with a history of mental illness who had killed herself over a potential suitor misrepresenting himself on a singles website? What about a teen taunting another teen online?

Again, I really want this woman to face some form of state-sanctioned punishment. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:17 PM   #54
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Originally posted by VintagePunk


While not as extreme as you, I was thinking along the same lines. The ethics involved in this whole arena are mind boggling. While I truly don't want this woman to escape with no consequences, where should one draw the line in policing internet behaviour? What if it were an adult woman with a history of mental illness who had killed herself over a potential suitor misrepresenting himself on a singles website? What about a teen taunting another teen online?

Again, I really want this woman to face some form of state-sanctioned punishment. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Exactly. Where do we draw the line? And it really isn't fair to all the other people out there, men, women, boys, girls, who get their hearts broken by some scumbags. Why just this one situation?

Actually, I don't think she deserves any punishment at all from the state because again, what about all the millions of other people that things like this happen to? If I had a girlfriend and than one day I decide to dump her for another woman and on top of that call her ugly (for example), and she decides to kill herself, should I be punished by state or any other prosecutor? This really does not reflect a free society.
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Old 05-17-2008, 01:44 PM   #55
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Originally posted by Infinitum98


Exactly. Where do we draw the line? And it really isn't fair to all the other people out there, men, women, boys, girls, who get their hearts broken by some scumbags. Why just this one situation?

Actually, I don't think she deserves any punishment at all from the state because again, what about all the millions of other people that things like this happen to? If I had a girlfriend and than one day I decide to dump her for another woman and on top of that call her ugly (for example), and she decides to kill herself, should I be punished by state or any other prosecutor? This really does not reflect a free society.
This really is not an applicable comparison as you haven't started your friendship with the aim of hurting her in the end. You didn't have a malicious intent to start the relationship in the first place.

I think that the court should very clearly define the special circumstances and the intent of the persons involved that led to the case being accepted to the court, if this is at all possible under American law, in order to prevent any small bullying from being brought before the court.

To say it's not fair that this case is accepted to be made by a court when others aren't is not exactly such strong an argument.
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Old 05-17-2008, 03:42 PM   #56
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This really is not an applicable comparison as you haven't started your friendship with the aim of hurting her in the end. You didn't have a malicious intent to start the relationship in the first place.

Thank you
The intent to hurt / harm must surely be what this case should hinge on? Free speech is a powerful argument in some regards but not when that freedom to speak was never 'pure of intent' to begin with.

This whole case makes my blood boil, and okay, perhaps my having a 12 year old daughter and having to navigate these very same waters may skew my judgement slightly, it is just sickening that a grown woman would so lack the maturity to make sound decisions and understand the possible ramificiations of what she was doing - grrrrrr
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Old 05-17-2008, 04:52 PM   #57
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Originally posted by Vincent Vega


This really is not an applicable comparison as you haven't started your friendship with the aim of hurting her in the end. You didn't have a malicious intent to start the relationship in the first place.

I think that the court should very clearly define the special circumstances and the intent of the persons involved that led to the case being accepted to the court, if this is at all possible under American law, in order to prevent any small bullying from being brought before the court.

To say it's not fair that this case is accepted to be made by a court when others aren't is not exactly such strong an argument.
I understand what you are saying. But say I thought the girl was a bitch, and my sole goal was to break her heart, and I did it, then what? And even in this case, my goal wasn't to hurt her from the beginning, but I still did a horrible thing by cheating on her, why shouldn't that count as a reason for prosecution, if she killed herself?

All i'm trying to say is that in high school people can be very very mean, not only in cases of boyfriends and girlfriends, but other situations also. I know in particular because I was on of those who used to get picked on a lot back in high school. People did some very cruel things that really hurt my self-esteem. I used to not want to go to school because of this. It really hurt. And say I was a depressed person and had killed myself. It would have been hard to draw a line or prosecute anyone in particular.

I'm just trying to say that this doesn't only happen in the case of a lady leading a teenage girl on, on myspace, but happens in so many different situations with so many different people.

What would have happened in this case if it really was a teenage boy who messed with her, and then she killed herself. Would the boy be prosecuted?

I think in this case, the parents of the girl should have watched out more, they shouldn't have let her talk to a stranger boy on myspace.
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Old 05-17-2008, 04:53 PM   #58
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All that being said, I agree, it was a very sick thing for this woman to do.
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Old 05-17-2008, 05:20 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally posted by Infinitum98


I'm just trying to say that this doesn't only happen in the case of a lady leading a teenage girl on, on myspace, but happens in so many different situations with so many different people.

What would have happened in this case if it really was a teenage boy who messed with her, and then she killed herself. Would the boy be prosecuted?

I think in this case, the parents of the girl should have watched out more, they shouldn't have let her talk to a stranger boy on myspace.
I think I understand what you saying and where you are coming from - the teenage years are absolutely fraught and I can remember being the target of some pretty vicious teenage jibes in my high school years - however, this wasn't a teenage boy and that is the difference. This was carried out, or initiated by a grown woman who should have known better - if nothing else, look at the message she is teaching her daughter.

As for the whole parental supervision of myspace - hindsight is a beautiful thing - I am hyper strict with my kids but I don't believe for a minute that I can always know EXACTLY what they are up to - its impossible and all you can do is your best - so I don't think we should be too harsh on the mother of the girl who died - she's paid the most tragic of prices and has probably beaten herself up every day over the 'if only's.

Whichever way you look at it it is just awful
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Old 05-17-2008, 06:59 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally posted by Infinitum98


I understand what you are saying. But say I thought the girl was a bitch, and my sole goal was to break her heart, and I did it, then what? And even in this case, my goal wasn't to hurt her from the beginning, but I still did a horrible thing by cheating on her, why shouldn't that count as a reason for prosecution, if she killed herself?

All i'm trying to say is that in high school people can be very very mean, not only in cases of boyfriends and girlfriends, but other situations also. I know in particular because I was on of those who used to get picked on a lot back in high school. People did some very cruel things that really hurt my self-esteem. I used to not want to go to school because of this. It really hurt. And say I was a depressed person and had killed myself. It would have been hard to draw a line or prosecute anyone in particular.

I'm just trying to say that this doesn't only happen in the case of a lady leading a teenage girl on, on myspace, but happens in so many different situations with so many different people.

What would have happened in this case if it really was a teenage boy who messed with her, and then she killed herself. Would the boy be prosecuted?

I think in this case, the parents of the girl should have watched out more, they shouldn't have let her talk to a stranger boy on myspace.
There are some very important differences. You didn't invent a fake personality in order to hook up with the girl only to eventually break her. And you probably couldn't foresee what your actions would lead to.
The mother, however, is a 40-something mother of a teenage girl herself, so she is a lot more developed. Additionally, the girls have been good friends before according to another article, so one interesting detail might be to find out if the mother knew of the girl's mental issues.

This is not comparable with an ugly breakup or high school bullying. The main actor involved was bearing way more responsibility than a high school student. If for example not only over students but also teachers were involved in bullying a person that eventually killed himself they would be brought to court. With students it probably would look different. However, whether a case is to be brought to court should always be a case by case decision, and in some cases I would sure say that students should be made responsible for their actions either. As a high school student you aren't that young as to not knowing what your actions can cause.

And in this case you could narrow down the circle of people involved pretty much, and even say who did what, which you couldn't in a situation of high school bullying where no one person can be made responsible.
It's like the situation when a mob kills a person. Too many people are involved, so you can't say "This person killed him."

Because other cases aren't being brought to court doesn't mean it's unfair if a case is to be decided by a court. That's not how law works, no matter what country (in the "western" hemisphere). It's not a "What would have..." case, it's this very case that is to be decided.

The parents of the girls are the victims, not the other way round. They could have done that or done this, of course, and they are certainly thinking that theirself. Her mother could have done more than just telling her not to hook up with this guy on Myspace. But she didn't. She could have reacted differently when her daughter came down to tell her "Josh" broke up, but she didn't. But as a parent you can't always make the right decision, and you can't always prevent bad things from happening. And her parents have to bear the feeling of not having done enough for the rest of their life, whether it's true or not. But they didn't act criminally.

The other woman, on the other hand, did.
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