The case of Megan Meier, 13, took the nation by storm. The teenager was the victim of cyber bullying from a 47-year- old neighbor who impersonated an acquaintance of Meier. The case highlighted the rise of online anger and aggression, in particular how the internet is becoming a new realm for harsh bullying.
The saga of Meier's death began when neighbor Lori Drew created a fake MySpace account, taking on the persona of an attractive 18-year-old boy named "Josh Evans". Drew concocted the plan to get back at Meier for allegedly saying things about Drew's teenage daughter, Sarah, a former friend of Megan's. She hoped to gain Megan's trust and then use the information against her.
Her daughter Sarah and her eighteen-year-old employee were in on the scheme. For weeks Drew bragged to friends and coworkers about her illegal MySpace page, which she mentioned to them was in violation of federal laws and the MySpace user agreement.
After initially romancing Meier, Drew's alter-ego began sending her nasty messages, culminating in a message where she stated, "The world would be a better place without you."
Hours later, Meier hanged herself.
Federal agents sidestepped local authorities, due to what they felt were weak local cybercrime laws. Charging Drew with federal computer charges, their case concluded Monday with closing arguments heard.
Mark Krause, an assistant United States attorney, stated in the closing arguments, "The defendant had a problem. And that problem's name was Megan Meier. Even after the tragic death of Megan Meier the defendant couldn't stop talking about her scheme."
The defense countered with Drew's lawyer, H. Dean Steward stating that Drew should not be held liable for violating the MySpace user agreement in a potentially criminal way as, according to him, when it comes to user agreements "nobody reads them." He went on to claim that the case failed to prove any violations of federal fraud statutes and that, "You'd think this was a homicide case--it's not."
Drew, who lives by St. Louis in the suburbs, is up on four federal charges -- conspiracy and three counts of accessing a computer without authorization via interstate commerce to obtain information to inflict emotional distress. Lori Drew refused to testify in the case, but her daughter testified emotionally in the closing day of the trial, bemoaning of her memory of key events, "I don't know."
The case now is in the hands of the jury.
In a related story, another teenager recently committed suicide on a video chat site, Justin.tv after being encouraged by users to kill himself.
quote: Normally I'd lean the majority of blame on the parents in the case of a childs' suicide,
quote: Let us not forget that this girl had attempted suicide before. If Drew was responsible for the second one, who was responsible for the first?
quote: The parents are partially responsible, but this girl is dead because of the abuse of another adult and the adult responsible should be charged with a crime.
quote: Neither did the girl who committed suicide. From her perspective, she met a boy, he initially liked her, then told her to get lost -- in other words, a perfect replica of a situation that happens millions of times a year in teenage America. 99.85% of the time without either party committing suicide. Had "Josh" been a real person, odds are his behavior would have been exactly the same...and the outcome as well.
quote: I dunno about that. Drew set up the whole situation with the "breakup" as the inevitable conclusion with the intent to create as much emotional distress as possible. It's impossible to say without reading all the messages the two exchanged, but I suspect it wasn't like 99.85% of relationships that end in breakup, it was probably much, much worse. By design.
quote: From her perspective, she met a boy, he initially liked her, then told her to get lost -- in other words, a perfect replica of a situation that happens millions of times a year in teenage America. 99.85% of the time without either party committing suicide. Had "Josh" been a real person, odds are his behavior would have been exactly the same...and the outcome as well.
quote: I've read four articles on this subject and nothing says anything about depressive behavior.
quote: A composed Tina Meier [Megan's Mother] told jurors her daughter was taking medication for attention deficit disorder and depression and that she struggled with low self-esteem. Concerned about her daughter’s safety, Meier said she had Megan’s father reverse the lock on her bedroom.“I was nervous she would do something,” said Meier, adding that Megan previously tried committing suicide ...[When she arrived home], Megan was crying. “Josh” and two other girls were saying mean things about her, Meier said...She said she told her daughter that she wasn’t supposed to be online without her being there.“The last words she said to me were ‘You are supposed to be my mom, you are supposed to be on my side,’ ”The teen’s mother said she later ran upstairs and found Megan hanging in the closet with a belt around her neck
quote: Wow! Only the people responsible for her death (not her parents) said she was depressed and suicidal!
quote: Got anything else?
quote: Laws that would make it illegal to lie about anything when creating an online account. That's not the way to go.
quote: Yes, but we don't retroactively punish people for laws which don't yet exist. And we don't pass a new law, then punish people who acted before the law was written. The unjustness of retroactive punishment is one of the basic tenets of modern legal systems. There's even a legal term for such laws -- ex post facto -- "after the fact", for those who skipped that day in Latin.
quote: Society makes the laws; we conform to them as they are written.
quote: Fine, post your real name, address and home number here to get the ball rolling.
quote: This Agreement is accepted upon your use of the MySpace Website or any of the MySpace Services and is further affirmed by you becoming a Member.
quote: If I tell 500 people to go kill themselves and 1 does, doesn't mean I broke any laws
quote: The girl was just talking to a “boy” on the internet. To any parent it would have looked like your typical teenager stuff. Even if the parents had seen the final messages, they would have likely chalked it up as teenage drama, and told her to forget about it.
quote: The girl was just talking to a “boy” on the internet. To any parent it would have looked like your typical teenager stuff.
quote: Also the woman who pulled this stunt should be charged with felony murder through the felony murder statute (any death that happens because you were committing a felony).
quote: I want to be able to say ANYTHING online, repreat I SHOULD BE ABLE TO SAY WHATEVER I WANT TO NO MATTER WHAT on the internet.