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Megan Meier

Lori Drew with daughter Sarah
Judge's decision to avoid setting precedent may result in justice being averted

A Missouri woman who was convicted of three misdemeanors for her role in an online harassment of a teenager who committed suicide has been provisionally acquitted.

Lori Drew conspired with her daughter Sarah Drew and Ashley Grills to gather information about thirteen year old Megan Meier and humiliate her. This was done in retribution for Meier allegedly spreading gossip and rumors about Drew's daughter.

The three created the fictional MySpace persona of "Josh Evans" and befriended Meier. Eventually the Evans persona turned hostile, with the final message sent to Meier reading: "Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you."

Meier responded with a message reading “You’re the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over.”  She was found hanging by her neck twenty minutes after her last message was sent.

Federal District Judge George Wu provisionally threw out the convictions because Drew's conviction on illegal access hinged on the fact that she violated MySpace's Terms of Service by creating a false account. Creating a false account is not a criminal offence, and Judge Wu did not want to create a precedent that could be used to convict millions of other Internet users.

"This is conduct done every day by millions and millions of people," Judge Wu rationalized.

Lori Drew was not directly charged with causing Megan's death, but was instead indicted under the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The case has been a rallying cry for anti-online harassment legislation. Assemblyman Ted Lieu introduced Assembly Bill 86 in the California legislature in August 2008, and Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez introduced H.R. 6123 as the "Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act" to amend Title 18 of the United States Code on May 22 2008.

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Induction to suicide
By axias41 on 7/3/2009 8:19:27 AM , Rating: 2
In Italy this would be induction to suicide.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Samus on 7/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: Induction to suicide
By tviceman on 7/3/2009 9:05:52 AM , Rating: 5
A mom telling a teenage girl that the world would be better off without her is pretty F'd up, but come one. You're saying you don't feel safe because she might give you bad advice on what to do with your life?

Well I think we should all kill ourselves. Am I guilty of manslaughter now too if someone commits suicide today?

RE: Induction to suicide
By tviceman on 7/3/2009 9:06:30 AM , Rating: 2
Should be "come on". Where's my edit button!?

RE: Induction to suicide
By shortylickens on 7/5/2009 1:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree. This situation is bad and the mom was seriously wrong, but I dont like the idea of a nanny state pressing murder or manslaughter charges just because people are mean. Life is hard, and this isnt even close to the hardest thing we have seen. Teenage girls are emotional, unstable and sensitive. Thats why parents need to keep a close eye on them and be involved in their lives. THATS what could have prevented this tragedy.
I do think the mother should have been found guilty of harassment though. Thats a serious offense.

RE: Induction to suicide
By bhieb on 7/6/2009 10:19:09 AM , Rating: 2
Teenage girls are emotional, unstable and sensitive.

Where's your edit button... should read

Girls are emotional, unstable and sensitive.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Davelo on 7/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: Induction to suicide
By BigPeen on 7/3/2009 11:58:38 AM , Rating: 5
She didn't commit a crime, therefore she should get off scott free. Where are the "victim"'s parents. Why aren't they being held responsible for negligence or something. Who on earth lets the 13 year old kid roam free on myspace without any supervision? Parents need to wake up, it's not everyone elses fault their kids suck, its their fault.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Solandri on 7/4/2009 12:01:41 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a similar case without the stigma of the kid killing herself (and thus blame being able to be assigned to the kid or her parents).

I think it's helpful because it clearly demonstrates that two separate events happened in the Drew case: The harassment, and the suicide. And while Drew may not have been guilty of directly causing the suicide, I think it's clear that she was most definitely guilty of the harassment, and thus shouldn't get off scott free. Not criminalizing the harassment is just an open invitation to every sick wacko out there to try crazy things like the Craigslist stunt.

What's caused problems in the Drew case IMHO is the State didn't have any sort of harassment laws which fit, and the prosecutor went for the jugular and filed a pretty broad range of other charges to try to nail Drew for the suicide.

People's stance on the suicide also raises some interesting questions. For a while now, the U.S. has had a significantly higher homicide rate than Western Europe, but Western Europe's suicide rate is significantly higher. Enough so that if you add homicides and suicides, both have nearly the same death rate from those two causes. While an outside party may not directly be responsible for suicides, I do feel the state is responsible if it creates conditions which lead to a higher suicide rate. A life cut short is a life cut short whether the cause was homicide or suicide. Both are undesirable and the state should foster laws to try to minimize them.

RE: Induction to suicide
By ICE1966 on 7/4/2009 11:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, so now the state should create laws to stop suicide, and exactly what kind of mindest is that may I ask? How can a law stop a suicide? if a person wants to kill themself then no law will stop that or even reduce it. This lady actually broke no law, and really I cannot see where she harassed the young girl. I do not agree that 2 seperate events happened in this case, there was only 1 event, the suicide. Befriending someone on myspace is not harassment, and even telling them that the world would be a better place without them is not harassment. States do have harassment laws and none fit this case simply because there was no harassment committed. I think these parents should be questioned as to why they did not know more about thier daughters activities online. I have a 13 yr. old and I watch his travels online very closely, in fact, I use a keylogger to further watch his actions. parents need to get off thier ass and pay closer attention to what thier kids are doing.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Solandri on 7/5/2009 4:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, so now the state should create laws to stop suicide, and exactly what kind of mindest is that may I ask? How can a law stop a suicide? if a person wants to kill themself then no law will stop that or even reduce it.

That is not what I said. Unlike seemingly most people, I don't believe that singular events cause singular consequences. I believe many factors play into someone's decision to commit suicide. If some of those factors can be minimized by laws which have little negative consequences, then I believe the state is morally obligated to pass those laws. If bullying at school is a contributing cause towards teen suicides, then there should be laws prohibiting or at least making harder bullying at school.

I do not agree that 2 seperate events happened in this case, there was only 1 event, the suicide.

So you would have absolutely no problem with people pulling the Craigslist stunt on you? You're ok with your kid answering the phone and getting solicited for sex because someone else didn't like him/her? Or do you plan to prohibit your kid from answering the phone so you can screen all his/her calls?

Befriending someone on myspace is not harassment, and even telling them that the world would be a better place without them is not harassment. States do have harassment laws and none fit this case simply because there was no harassment committed.

Befriending someone on myspace is not harassment. Befriending someone under false pretenses with the goal of emotionally manipulating them is borderline harassment. Befriending someone under false pretenses using someone else's identity to emotionally manipulate them is pretty clearly harassment IMHO.

No harassment charges were filed because the laws were geared towards protecting people from direct bodily harm or injury. If the harassment results in financial losses (as in cases of fake Craigslist giveaway ads), then it's a con and there are laws against it. But when the harassment results in mental harm, then we don't have laws prohibiting it. IMHO they're all harassment, it's just that the damage in the last case (mental harm) is difficult if not impossible to assess objectively so there are no laws on it. In other words, it's not that there shouldn't be a law prohibiting it, it's that a law prohibiting it would be really difficult to make and enforce.,2933,341089,00.html

I think these parents should be questioned as to why they did not know more about thier daughters activities online. I have a 13 yr. old and I watch his travels online very closely, in fact, I use a keylogger to further watch his actions. parents need to get off thier ass and pay closer attention to what thier kids are doing.

As a general rule, a defender guarding against a general threat can never effectively protect against a determined attacker specifically targeting them. The French found that out with the Maginot Line. Your monitoring will protect your child against generic, untargeted threats (malware sites, viruses, etc). But if someone were to specifically target your 13 yr old (as happened in the Drew case), they'd probably try to do it in a way which would fly under the parents' radar.

In this case, since the girl was duped into thinking she was messaging with her boyfriend, that's all you would've known too - that your 13 yo was exchanging messages with a schoolmate/ boyfriend/ girlfriend. Not that there was an 18 yo and an adult behind that online persona scheming to wreak emotional havoc on your kid.

RE: Induction to suicide
By whickywhickyjim on 7/5/2009 8:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
She didn't commit a crime? What about an adult having a relationship with a minor, which is essentially what the mother did? If this was a creepy father instead of a creepy mother, this case would have been prosecuted totally differently, and probably would have stuck.

RE: Induction to suicide
By AEvangel on 7/3/2009 4:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
Where is your proof that she wrote the last message?? Does anyone ahve any proof to that??? Do we truly know who wrote it??

An yes while even if she did it might be f'd up it's not illegal.

I'm personally glad the law prevailed in this case and not people's silly over emotional outcries.

You want to get upset then why not get upset about the thousands of other kids that starve or die every day for hundreds of other reasons that are preventable if we would have spent half as much energy and money as people have spent on this crap.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Ticholo on 7/4/2009 8:48:11 AM , Rating: 1
An yes while even if she did it might be f'd up it's not illegal.

WOW!!! That's pretty extreme!
Being crazy or a little off IS illegal.

RE: Induction to suicide
By bigboxes on 7/4/2009 6:20:05 AM , Rating: 3
I personally don't feel safe with her roaming free.

Right. Cuz you never know if you might run into her on the street. She might tell you to "kill yourself". Then where would we be? Without your contributions to DT.

RE: Induction to suicide
By theapparition on 7/4/2009 7:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oh boy, I hate to see what you'll do the next time someone tells you to go fuck yourself.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Radnor on 7/3/09, Rating: -1
RE: Induction to suicide
By Yawgm0th on 7/3/2009 3:15:09 PM , Rating: 3
Mob rule is one of the many reasons Portugal is a paragon for all lawful nations.

You should try public stoning, too. I hear that stoning, combined with no trial, no presumption of innocence, and no habeas corpus, is pretty much the cornerstone of any free society.

RE: Induction to suicide
By Radnor on 7/3/2009 7:48:10 PM , Rating: 3
Considering that the law is there solely on paper, and extreme beurocracry is adamant. Considering there being payed 15,000€ per one single comma on the right spot.

Considering the corruption is rampart, and that south american governments are children compared to our elected representatives.

Although 70% of my countryman are satisfied, although they are underpaid, overtaxed, blatantly exploited and 80% recognize that they can't get to the end of the month.

Funny thing, is that because the presumption of freedom that exists in our constituition allows all that to take place.

I honestly think people soemtimes should pick some clubs. Or do you think such a twisted act is only worth 3 years in jail ? Sorry mate, some things, are just twisted.

RE: Induction to suicide
By rippleyaliens on 7/5/2009 11:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
My thing is, that this woman and her kid, are 2 fat bodys.. and the girl that committed suicide doesn't seem to be.. If i were the mom of the dead young girl,THIS WOMAN and her kid, would be in for a life of serious cyber warfare..
Her daughter would feel the brunt of it.. as eye/eye is indeed justified here. Since this woman got off, why should her daughter be free from experiencing the simular pain...

Good decision
By AntiM on 7/3/2009 8:30:31 AM , Rating: 5
No doubt the woman is an idiot. It's unbelievable that an adult would participate in such behavior. It's this sort of thing that causes the rest of us responsible citizens to lose our liberties. Cyberbullying laws?? Are you kidding me? Now I have to worry about whether I'm offending someone or causing them distress?? This is the sort of thing Government lawmakers love. It gives them yet another excuse to chip away at our Constitutional rights.

She wasn't directly charged with murder, but only with computer fraud. Maybe she should have been found guilty of that. I'm glad the judge saw fit to separate her shear stupidity from the intent of the law.

I imagine Drew will be punished in civil court, after Megan Meier's family files a wrongful death lawsuit.

RE: Good decision
By pirspilane on 7/3/2009 9:58:57 AM , Rating: 2
"shear" stupidity? Ah, the irony.

RE: Good decision
By habibo on 7/3/2009 3:45:45 PM , Rating: 3
I presume "shear stupidity" means not knowing how to use a pair of clippers?

RE: Good decision
By F3R4L on 7/3/2009 1:22:19 PM , Rating: 2
Wassup AntiM!

RE: Good decision
By Jedi2155 on 7/3/2009 2:53:52 PM , Rating: 3
If you think being adult admonishes you from stupidity, then you haven't been to 4chan....

Good legal decision
By ZachDontScare on 7/3/2009 2:04:06 PM , Rating: 4
I dont have any sympathy for the woman who did all this. Hopefully she'll get whats coming to her at some point. But from a legal standpoint, I think this was a good decision.

RE: Good legal decision
By Spivonious on 7/6/2009 9:16:51 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. The woman broke no laws.

But civil court will have a field day with this case. Gross negligence by this lady will result in a big payout to the mother of the dead girl.

For fvcks sake..
By icanhascpu on 7/3/2009 10:29:20 AM , Rating: 5
Where the hell are the girls parents when all this was happening? Sure, you can BS about how you cant look after your kids 24/7, but how about take an hour each day? That so hard?

The Judge did the right thing
By corduroygt on 7/3/2009 11:44:41 AM , Rating: 5
What this woman did is one of the most dickish moves i've ever seen, but as far as the law is concerned, it's legal, only violating the TOS, in which case Myspace will just delete your account.
However, she will have bad karma for the rest of her life. If I knew her in any capacity, whether as a neighbor, acquaintence, or employer, I'd cut my ties with her immediately.
In cases like this, the punishment should be given by the local people aroound her by excluding her from social conduct, instead of enacting nanny state laws.

By sarcasticdragon on 7/3/2009 12:11:10 PM , Rating: 3
Drew didnt send the nasty messages... her teen daughter and a co-worker did.. She create a fake acct to find out what Megan was gossiping about her own daughter.. Childish I agree.. but that didnt make Megan kill herself.

Megans parents were getting a divorce, can you image her homelife..the fighting, the yelling, that I feel is a better reason to kill yourself then some fake boy you never met. Am I guessing.. yes I am, but so is everyone else.. only Megan knows why she did it.

RE: Megan
By GeorgeOu on 7/3/2009 5:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
You're correct that Drew didn't send that last message; it was a co-worker who ironically ratted Drew out. As far as I'm concerned, they're all complicit here.

While the divorce had a role in this, you're being an idiot suggesting that the fake boy didn't directly cause the death. It's fairly conclusive that the final message did cause the death, and that the person who wrote that message needs some serious punishment.

By adam92682 on 7/3/2009 9:51:21 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the mother was upset that Megan was much better looking than her ugly daughter. The sunglasses on her head are horrible.

RE: ugly
By Pneumothorax on 7/3/2009 11:12:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yup the "murderer's" daughter is obviously an ugly fattie.

Ultimate Irony
By GhandiInstinct on 7/5/2009 6:24:59 PM , Rating: 2
The ultimate irony, that only the wise people will understand:

Is that the world IS better off without that 13 year old girl. It's natural selection, weak genes should not pass on. People who are as mentally weak and stupid as that girl should not pass on their genes if we are to evolve our species.

The mom is evil but the girl did what she would have done eventually. Weak genes do not survive.

RE: Ultimate Irony
By MikeO on 7/6/2009 7:47:19 AM , Rating: 2
One can only hope you never get to pass on your genes, your master race of emotionless fcktards doesn't sound too appealing.

Book deal coming...
By Jalek on 7/3/2009 10:40:59 AM , Rating: 3
You know it's true. She's cleared, so now she can get that seven figure check.

The entire case was trying to fit the law to an action it didn't really cover, but everyone knew that.

Megan's parents can also file their civil suit without needing a specific law to cite, so the book deal advance may just pay off the parents, maybe with enough left on royalties to buy a foosball table.

By GeorgeOu on 7/3/2009 5:44:09 PM , Rating: 3
This is the actual girl that came up with the idea and sent the final message. Her name is Ashley Grills.

She blames Drew, but she pretty much admitted that she came up with the idea with the 13 year old daughter and that the mother approved of the plan. She also admits that she sent the final message.

It's clear that this girl is trying to rationalize what she did. The mother and daughter were involved in the prank but they never went as fas as suggesting to Megan that the world would be better without her. If she wanted to cut off communications, she simply needs to close the MySpace account, not tell a young girl to kill herself. They all share in some of the blame, but Grills is the most guilty here of all.

By sarcasticdragon on 7/3/2009 8:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
Even in a wrongful death suit wouldnt there need to be proof Megan even cared about being dumped online by the fake boy?

Mom admitted to a HUGE screaming fight with Megan over the myspace page, then left to go out on an errand....Teens often feel misunderstood and mom not caring she had been dumped would have been devestating to a girl who already tried to kill herself the year before anyway.

Its all just guess work as to what Megan was thinking when she killed herself, shoot for all we know she may not have ment to kill herself at all.. maybe she was just doing it for attention adn nobody found her fast enough... Its not like its never happened before.

The proper punishment
By jimbojimbo on 7/6/2009 2:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
The punishment should be someone tells her that the world would be better without her. An eye for an eye right?

I think this is for the best.
By Icehearted on 7/3/2009 1:58:18 PM , Rating: 1
Clearly, people in this country abuse free speech, thinking that it means they can say whatever they want and face no consequences, but I believe free speech should be tempered with personal responsibility.

That said, the idea that we could face real jail time for the things we say online strikes a particularly dangerous note, as it would have been precursory to more control over what we can say, both online, then eventually off.

Yay! - free speech!
Boo! - coaxing a young woman to suicide!

The woman is scum of the earth
By viperpa33s on 7/3/2009 3:54:48 PM , Rating: 1
The woman is scum of the earth. She has no remorse for what she did. To force a kid to suicide is about as low as you can go. She should not even be a mother. As a parent myself, I feel the pain the parents of this child are going through.

Why is this Tech news ?
By chick0n on 7/3/09, Rating: -1
RE: Why is this Tech news ?
By threepac3 on 7/3/2009 8:08:59 AM , Rating: 2
Let this be decided by the states...

RE: Why is this Tech news ?
By DASQ on 7/3/2009 10:45:44 AM , Rating: 1
You're right, a CYBERbullying case that has made it big in the general news would have NOTHING to do with a site named 'Dailytech'.

RE: Why is this Tech news ?
By Boze on 7/3/2009 4:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
This is news because it could possibly have resulted in a very serious piece of legislation being crafted one day; one that might not be realistically enforceable, but would be chilling nonetheless.

As far as the child is concerned, I feel nothing but sympathy for her parents, and I deeply regret she felt it necessary to kill herself, however we need to place the blame for this not on Lori Drew or her hambeast daughter, but directly on Megan Meier's parents. Every day, people are starving to death, being killed in genocidal conflicts, natural disasters, accidents, and just about any other horrific way you can imagine. To me it begs the question: where were her parents during all this? Too busy whining and bitching at each other over their marriage to pay attention to the daughter, it would seem. Too busy not explaining to her that, no matter how bad you might think you have it... you don't. You live in the world's most advanced nation, a society that compared to the rest of the world is a paragon of freedom. If you live in the United States, you really have no excuse to ever consider suicide. Nothing is so bad that you need to kill yourself over it.

Unfortunately, the poor girl was only thirteen. She didn't have a family to teach her this, to explain these things, to comfort and explain to her about what was happening to her over the computer. Her parents failed her miserably by not paying enough attention to her and her emotional and mental state.

Would mainstream press ever write anything like what I've just said? No. Do they need to? Every single time something like this happens. The majority of society's woes can be directly laid at the feet of the parents. And the parents don't like hearing that.

RE: Why is this Tech news ?
By Boze on 7/3/2009 4:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa whoa, how does this get rated down to a 0 the second after I post it? No one's reading that fast. You DailyTech admins might wanna take a look over your software and figure out what's up.

RE: Why is this Tech news ?
By SavagePotato on 7/4/2009 3:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
Reply to a -1 post removes one point, using any profanity -1 point.

I see at least one profane word in there that would do that.

That's why.

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