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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lori Drew Indicted in Missouri MySpace Suicide Case

Right: Megan Meier, 13

LOS ANGELES — A Missouri woman was indicted Thursday for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.

Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis, who allegedly helped create a MySpace account in the name of someone who didn't exist to convince Megan Meier she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans, was charged with conspiracy and fraudulently gaining access to someone else's computer.

Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006, allegedly after receiving a dozen or more cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Salvador Hernandez, assistant agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, called the case heart-rending.

"The Internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl's weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she's responsible for her actions."

Right: The fat bitch, Lori Drew, who thought it would be fun to deceive then devastate a 13-year-old Megan Meier.

Drew was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl. Yes!

Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.

Her attorney, Jim Briscoe, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Thursday.
A man who opened the door at the Drew family home in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., on Thursday said the family had no comment.

Megan's mother, Tina Meier, told The Associated Press she believed media reports and public outrage helped move the case forward for prosecution.

"I'm thrilled that this woman is going to face charges that she has needed to face since the day we found out what was going on, and since the day she decided to be a part of this entire ridiculous stunt," she said.

Megan's father, Ron Meier, 38, said he began to cry "tears of joy" when he heard of the indictment. The parents are now separated, which Tina Meier has said stemmed from the circumstances of their daughter's death.

Tina Meier has acknowledged Megan was too young to have a MySpace account under the Web site's guidelines, but she said she had been able to closely monitor the account. Meier's family has also acknowledged that Megan was also sending mean messages before her death.

Megan was being treated for attention deficit disorder and depression, her family has said. Meier has said Drew knew Megan was on medication.

MySpace issued a statement saying it "does not tolerate cyberbullying" and was cooperating fully with the U.S. attorney.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. It has been used in the past to address hacking.

"This was a tragedy that did not have to happen," O'Brien said at a Los Angeles press conference.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said.

Rebecca Lonergan, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at the University of Southern California, said use of the federal cyber crime statute may be open to challenge.

Lonergan, who used the statute in the past to file charges in computer hacking and trademark theft cases, said the crimes covered by the law involve obtaining information from a computer, not sending messages out to harrass someone.

"Here it is the flow of information away from the computer," she said. "...It's a very creative, aggressive use of the statute. But they may have a legally tough time meeting the elements."
She said, however, that because "a very bad harm was done," the courts may grant some latitude.

MySpace is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Fox Interactive Media Inc., which is owned by News Corp. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are located in Los Angeles County.

Due to juvenile privacy rules, the U.S. attorney's office said, the indictment refers to the girl as M.T.M.

FBI agents in St. Louis and Los Angeles investigated the case, Hernandez said.
Each of the four counts carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison. Drew will be arraigned in St. Louis and then moved to Los Angeles for trial.

The indictment says MySpace members agree to abide by terms of service that include, among other things, not promoting information they know to be false or misleading; soliciting personal information from anyone under age 18 and not using information gathered from the Web site to "harass, abuse or harm other people."

Drew and others who were not named conspired to violate the service terms from about September 2006 to mid-October that year, according to the indictment. It alleges they registered as a MySpace member under a phony name and used the account to obtain information on the girl.

Drew and her coconspirators "used the information obtained over the MySpace computer system to torment, harass, humiliate, and embarrass the juvenile MySpace member," the indictment charged.

The indictment contends they committed or aided in a dozen "overt acts" that were illegal, including using a photograph of a boy that was posted without his knowledge or permission.
They used "Josh" to flirt with Megan, telling her she was "sexi," the indictment charged.

Around Oct., 7, 2006, Megan was told "Josh" was moving away, prompting the girl to write: "aww sexi josh ur so sweet if u moved back u could see me up close and personal lol."

Several days later, "Josh" urged the girl to call and added: "i love you so much."

But on or about Oct. 16, "Josh" wrote to the girl and told her "in substance, that the world would be a better place without M.T.M. in it," according to the indictment.

The girl hanged herself the same day, and Drew and the others deleted the information in the account, the indictment said.

Last month, an employee of Drew, 19-year-old Ashley Grills, told ABC's "Good Morning America" she created the false MySpace profile but Drew wrote some of the messages to Megan.
Grills said Drew suggested talking to Megan via the Internet to find out what Megan was saying about Drew's daughter, who was a former friend.

Grills also said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her. The message was supposed to end the online relationship with "Josh" because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.

"I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace," Grills told the morning show.

Megan's death was investigated by Missouri authorities, but no state charges were filed because no laws appeared to apply to the case.


Anonymous said...

I agree that it is a tragedy that Megan Meier died but I don't think that Lori Drew should be held responsible for her death. Where was Megan's Mom in all of this. Megan's mom stated that her daughter had a history of depression and instead of being there for her daughter she sent her to her room and got angry. She should have known that Megan was upset and she should have tried to console her. Are we not responsible for our own children anymore? Is it up to MYSPACE to police our children? Why was her mom not monitoring her daughters myspace page? Why didn't she have Megan in counseling? Megan's parents should be looking at themselves and realize that they failed their daughter. They did not do their best to protect her from the outside world. It is very well know that parents need to protect their children on line and megans parents did not and now they are blaming myspace and lori drew. Shame on them!
That being said, Lori Drew should be held accountable for harrassment of a minor but not put in prison for 20 years!
Let's be accountable for our own families!

Anonymous said...

While I feel for the family who lost a child, perhaps they should not have allowed their underage daughter to have a MySpace account. Perhaps the Federal Government should pursue charges against them as accomplices in the death. Mom admits she let the girl participate on MySpace knowing she was too young. Where is accountability on the part of the parents? Hell, probably more than half of the people on MySpace mis-represent themselves. Is everyone who fudges a little on their weight or age or taste in movies going to be prosecuted? Let's get real.

Angie said...

wow, I think Lori Drew and Anonymous may, in fact, be the same person! Becuase it is beyond me that anyone would defend the actions of this woman. What business did she have in finding out the latest gossip about her daughter, what could be being said that is so important that she decides to create a fakeonline personality, and go to all the trouble of building fake relationships? And who told her Megan was saying things about her kid? her kid? who else implicitly believes everything their teenagers tell them? Even if that was her motive, which i doubt and i'll explain why: she could have posed as another 13 year old girl. Or a 13 year old plutonic boy. But no, she felt the need to manipulate this girl into feelings that most 13 year olds can't handle, let alone a depressive one, and then, for no reasone but vindictiveness, purposely hurt her. This woman is sick, not only should she go to jail, but her kids would be better off being raised by wolves. Or the state.

Anonymous said...

Angie, no one's defending the woman. As anonymous said, she should be held accountable for her actions, but so should the parents of the girl. Not only did they not take care of their child but now they are making her death an excuse for their separation. If Lori Drew goes to jail, as I think she should, so should the parents of the girl. Lori Drew for being an accomplice to murder and the parents for criminal negligence and child neglect.

Anonymous said...

Defending this woman is sort of a gray area. While she isnt free from all blame. She most certainly should not be charged with being an accomplice to murder or any other crime remotely in the neighborhood of murder. This is another wonderfull example of another wonderfull trait that America has embraced. Bad things have happened.....lets point the finger at the other guy. That childs mother pretty much confessed to negligent behavior to the media! Now when i was growing up i didnt have the luxury of reading about insults or hurtful words thrown at me on a computer screen. Unfortunately i had to have them said to my face when it occured, but somehow i survived. Im not saying that the little girl didnt have problems that i do not. But if I walk up to a person, point at them and say..."Your life means nothing, jump off that cliff over there!" ..and they lack the common sense to ignore me...Does that mean im guilty of murder??

Life is not easy folks! Unfortunately people get taken advantage of everyday by other individuals who are capable of taking that advantage. When you are that young, and it is not expected of you to be able to defend yourself under certain circumstances, guess who is supposed to be there for you?? Sounds like the people who were supposed to be there for that little girl....simply were not.

Anonymous said...

The reason I think that Drew should be viewed as an accomplice to murder is that she *persuaded* the girl to kill herself (through deception and manipulation). Take note, we are talking about a minor here, that's why we can't just say "oh the girl should have just known better than do what others tell her to do". Drew took advantage of her, just like a pedophile takes advantage his/her victims. Besides, the girl was mentally ill and incapable of thinking clearly, so Drew is at least guilty of taking advantage of and harassment of a disabled person.

Anonymous said...

Now that i can agree with! As stated above, Drew should be called to check for something here. But certainly not Murder, Accessory to Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder or any other "Murder" you can think of. Did she manipulate, without a doubt. Was the victim not of sound mind, absolutely. I simply believe people to get too focused on who the "bad person" is from the easy route, and dont realize that more individuals invlolved than just this Drew woman hold a decent percentage of the guilt!

George said...

Thank you national media for your focus on the girl who committed suicide and happened to be a myspace member. This clearly must’ve been the first time a young girl has committed suicide. Or the first time they’ve been members of myspace. I will admit that when I first hear this story, I longed to know who the person was that cause this poor girl’s torment. It’s so easy to put it on one spot, to find someone to blame and wash the hands of anyone who may have touched her along the way. God forbid that someone else abused her. Let’s not get into that. Let’s not think about unattainable goals we as society put on our children, yes our little girls and boys. Let’s find the most explicitly culpable. The subtleties are something only intelligence cares to find, and as we all know, intelligence is as marketable as a sex symbols acting out our frustrated desires. Throw some chili cheese or STDs on it and we’ll feel at home. If you can’t live up to these Budweiser girls we raise our boys to long for, then take a our second amendment and throw it through your existence.

Anonymous said...

So what if this boy WAS real, how fragile was this girls EGO that she felt she can meet some person online, spend only a short amount of time getting to really know them, and then kills themself because the person they had feelings for 'insulted them'.

Where were the parents in this? Where was their online monitoring or uh... monitoring of their daughters emotions?

True - what the neighbor did was horrible, but what if it had been a boy - everything he told her about himself was true and maybe she happened to get him angry enough to lash back.

I think that the parents have SOME measure of responsibility because their daughter was apparently depressed, talking to strangers online about personal issues, and did etc..

WAKE UP - the internet is a cruel place, the world is a cruel place. If every teen went and killed themself over some teasing and vindictive words - we'd have no young adults.

Anonymous said...

I think it is pathetic that a grown woman would take part in this behavior, but criminal charges should be filed. At least not for murder.

Drew may have started it but the particular statement that set Megan off was sent by Grills not Drew.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is very sad when a young person takes their own life. However, it is really due to the fact that she was on PSHYCOTROPIC DRUGS rather than the bullying. Bullying, unfortunately, happens everyday in our schools and neighborhoods. Putting a mother behind bars because another mother put her child on Pshychiatric drugs is not the solution. The solution is to rid of the Pshych's and the damage that THEY do. The girl and her family are the responsible ones for her death.
I won't let my daufghter have a MySpace, what was her mother thinking?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with myspace. But there is something wrong with a 50 year old woman who creates a fake account so she and her daughter can figure out if this girl was talking crap about her kid. I think she deserves to go to jail simply because she went well out of her way to get this kid back. Why coudln't she just tell her daughter that the proper way to handle the situation is to talk about it. I can't believe that someone would do something so malicious

Prairie Chicken said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments. You have brought up view points I had not considered.

I have to say though, I agree with the Feds. I have met several people in my life who will set out to destroy another just for some imagined or real slight. Vicious and mean. And I think Lori Drew is another of them.

Her victim was 13 years old and had problems with depression and Lori Drew knew that. She has a 13 year old daughter, so she should be aware of the exploding hormones and insecurities that come with that age.

Not only did she set about to hurt this child, she taught her own child how it's done.

But Ashley Grills is no little innocent kid in this horror. She should face charges as well. She is 19 years old and knew full well what she was doing. She knew this was no joke.

Anonymous said...

Besides the obvious wrongdoing by that disturbed neighbor...is the outcome.If I hit somebody...it may be an assult charge but,if i hit somebody and they die its manslaughter. We need to update cyber laws. It's not an unknown anymore.

Prairie Chicken said...

anon at 9:58,
you are right. as our technology gets better we need to protect ourselves, without violating our rights at the same time.

Anonymous said...

fuck the dumb slut who created a fake myspace, she should be charged with murder! 13 yr olds with myspace is nothing new, get over it, she did nothing wrong and all girls that age create conflicts left and right, they are at that age... as for the mom creating a fake myspace.. deal with it, your daughter is prob a fatter slut than you and that does not give you the right in interfere with her ex-friends on myspace