Lori Drew, a Missouri mother, has been indicted in connection with a cyber taunting case that prompted a teenager to commit suicide in 2006. The federal indictment, filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, says the 49-year-old mother and others used a MySpace account to pose as “Josh Evans,” a 16-year-old boy. The “boy” then pretended to have romantic feelings for 13-year-old Megan Meier.
Meier hung herself in her room after her online crush rejected her and told her the world would be better if she wasn’t in it.
Meier’s mother, Tina, found her daughter hanging by a belt in her room. She says that her daughter was insecure and suffered from depression.
If convicted, Drew could spend up to 20 years in prison for three counts of accessing protected computers to get information to inflict emotional distress, as well as one count of conspiracy. Her arraignment is in June.
According to law enforcement officials, Drew set up the account to find out what Meier was saying about her own daughter. “Josh” and Meier communicated for about a month before he broke up with her. Meier hung herself within an hour after the break up. She died the next day.
The indictment alleges that Drew deleted the MySpace account and told one of the teenagers to “keep her mouth shut.” However, the indictment also says that unnamed others (including a teenager) sent the last email message that led to Meier’s suicide.
Previous to the indictment, Missouri prosecutors said they would not file charges against Drew because she did not violate any laws. According to St. Charles Prosecutor Jack Banas, no one could have known that being mean to someone on the Internet could lead to suicide.
This year, however, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles began a grand jury probe to determine whether Drew and others defrauded MySpace by giving the company false information.
Mom indicted in deadly MySpace hoax, CNN.com, May 15, 2008
Alleged MySpace ‘cyber-bully’ indicted in teen’s suicide, Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2008
Related Web Resources:
A town fights back in MySpace suicide case, Los Angeles Times, November 22, 2007
Cyberstalking, The National Center for Victims of Crime
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