A federal judge overturned the jury conviction of Lori Drew on three misdemeanor counts of accessing protected computers without authorization. The 49-year-old woman is accused of using MySpace to send Megan Meier, a teenage girl, derogatory messages. The 13-year-old would later commit suicide.
Drew was supposed to receive her sentencing for the cyber crime this week, but California U.S. District Judge George Wu said he was not upholding the jury’s decision. He is challenging the federal computer crime statute that the prosecutors used when making their case against Drew. They contended that she violated MySpace’s terms of service that prohibited 1) the creation of bogus registration information, 2) the use of accounts to get personal information about juvenile members, and 3) the abuse, harassment, or harm of other members.
A spokesperson for the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles said that the judge is concerned that Drew’s guilty verdict would allow for anyone that violated the social networking site’s terms of service to be found guilty of a misdemeanor cyber crime.
Experts had called the jury’s 2008 verdict against Drew the first cyber-bully verdict. Testimony during her criminal trial revealed that Drew, her daughter Sarah, and family friend Ashley Grills created a bogus MySpace account to send messages to Meier. The “sender” was a fictitious boy named “Josh Evans.” Josh flirted with Meier, made friends with her, and then abandoned her, telling her that the world would be better if she wasn’t in it. Meier, who had a history suicidal impulses and depression, hanged herself in October 2006.
Drew was never charged with Meier’s murder. She was also acquitted of felony charges related to the cyberbullying case. Her criminal defense lawyers contend that although Drew new about the bogus account, she did not know about the mean messages that were sent to Meier.
As our cyber world continues to expand, people are being charged with crimes related to this high tech arena. You need the help of an experienced Boston cyber crimes law firm that knows how to provide you with the best defense.
Lori Drew MySpace Suicide Hoax Conviction Thrown Out, ABC News, July 2, 2009
U.S. woman convicted in MySpace suicide case, NY Times, October 27, 2008
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