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A woman who harassed a teenager via MySpace wants probation and fine

A Missouri woman who was convicted of three misdemeanors related to the MySpace harassment of a teenager who committed suicide will likely face probation and a $5,000 fine, according to a report.

The attorney for Lori Drew filed a pre-sentence report urging the court to go with probation and a fine.  Furthermore, her lawyer, H. Dean Steward, also wants the convictions to be dismissed.  Steward said MySpace wasn't to blame, and the girl's alleged history of mental illness and bouts of depression were more to blame than anything else.

Drew reportedly created a fake MySpace account posing as a teenage boy and sent flirtatious messages to Megan Meier, one of her neighbors.  Shortly after, the fictitious teenage boy dumped Megan while also saying the world wouldn't miss her.  The girl hanged herself after reading the messages sent through MySpace.

After originally being convicted last November, Drew faces three years in jail and a fine up to $300,000 related to the three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization.  She originally was charged with four felony counts, though she was cleared of three of them and the jury was deadlocked on the final felony count.

"This is about justice," Megan's mother said after the verdict.  "It's justice not only for Megan but it's justice for everybody who has had to go through this with the computer and being harassed."

Drew reportedly can't pay the $5,000 fine since she lost her job when she stopped working in November 2007.  In addition, several neighbors have harassed and threatened her, leading up to a brick being thrown through one of her windows.  The family eventually had to move out of the neighborhood.

She is expected to be sentenced on May 18, and Steward has asked that Megan's friends and family not speak at the sentencing, as it's "still a computer fraud case."



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This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 3:41:08 PM , Rating: 4
This woman's actions were purely malicious, and absolutely intended to cause distress.

I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn't want/expect the teen to kill herself. But this woman is a grade-A miscreant and should get some serious jail time. At least a year.




RE: This is bull#*@$.
By phxfreddy on 5/5/09, Rating: 0
RE: This is bull#*@$.
By clovell on 5/5/2009 7:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
Gags are fun. This was, as the OP stated, purely malicious. Criminal Intent was present.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By spread on 5/5/2009 8:28:52 PM , Rating: 3
So what if I go to McDonalds and yell at an employee for messing up my order, and then they commit suicide because I *pushed* them over the edge by complaining about my food?


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Solandri on 5/6/2009 4:08:52 AM , Rating: 3
If the employee messed up your order, you have justified cause to yell at him. He was expected to perform a certain function, he failed, you get mad. Your reaction, while extreme, would be something most people would consider understandable.

I've yet to meet a single person who thinks what this mother did was understandable.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Totally on 5/6/2009 6:54:09 AM , Rating: 2
You analogy doesn't fit the situation.

It's more like you're a food critic and getting mad at a restaurant because they served the couple who arrived 2 seconds after your friend(you never ate there) did first. Then file a complaint with the health inspector, write negative review, badmouth them here in there. Of course the restaurant isn't financially stable at the time and goes under.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By spread on 5/6/2009 11:54:26 AM , Rating: 1
Not even close. The mother was on THE INTERNET. Everything that happened, happened online. I blame this on the parents not educating their daughter, and letting such a mentally fragile child use the internet unsupervised.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By mindless1 on 5/6/2009 4:12:57 PM , Rating: 4
... because you have children that you monitor every second of every day to be sure they aren't around other human beings?

Sorry but no, it would be like saying a victim of burglary is to blame because they didn't guard their home well enough and PS - that's what our legal system says too so if you are a US citizen and don't like the laws, vote to effect change.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By mindless1 on 5/6/2009 4:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
If you really don't know the difference between right and wrong enough to know the difference between what you suggested and what Drew did, then maybe you should get some time away from society to think about /things/.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Samus on 5/5/09, Rating: 0
RE: This is bull#*@$.
By 91TTZ on 5/5/2009 4:46:51 PM , Rating: 3
No she shouldn't. The court agreed. She didn't kill the girl, the girl killed herself. Not the woman's fault that the girl was unstable. A normal person would simply ignore what someone says on the internet.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Flail on 5/5/2009 6:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
True, although she definitely did "push" the girl over the "edge", so she is still to blame somewhat imo.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Flail on 5/5/09, Rating: 0
RE: This is bull#*@$.
By rs1 on 5/5/2009 6:55:52 PM , Rating: 1
No she didn't. Pushing is an act of physical violence, and the mother committed no physical trespass against the girl who killed herself. She may have done emotionally malicious and hurtful things, but at the end of the day, she played no tangible part in the girl's decision to kill herself, or in the physical act of carrying out that decision. She's not liable for the girl's death, and to assert otherwise is borderline ridiculous.

If my boss at work is a total asshole, and hurts my feelings by yelling at and berating me constantly, and I decide to kill myself over it, should my employer be held liable? Should my boss go to jail because of a decision that I made of my own free will? Should my family be able to sue my company for damages? Would companies continue to take on new hires if any new hire could kill themselves, blame the company, and then have their relatives sue for a huge payout? Ultimately, I made the decision to take my own life, and no matter what reasons I might cite, or who I might try to blame, the responsibility for that decision is my own, and no-one else's.

It's time to stop making excuses for people, and for individuals to be held accountable for their own actions. And that includes holding people who choose, of their own free will, to commit suicide responsible for their own deaths, rather than allowing them to shift the blame for their actions onto others. In the end, they made their own choice, and they carried out their own act, and they deserve to bear full responsibility for it, regardless of whether anyone else helped to "push" them towards making one decision over another.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By dgingeri on 5/5/2009 7:35:15 PM , Rating: 4
Many jurisdictions, including New York State courts, count "depraved indifference" as a cause in a murder. Using emotional motivations, like acting like a boyfriend/girlfriend, to push someone who is emotionally unstable or weak, like a teenager, until they emotionally break and commit suicide is counted under this "depraved indifference" as committing murder. they may not have planned it, but their actions, criminal in themselves, ended in a death and it is counted as an unintentional murder.

This woman intentionally inflicted extreme emotional distress on an unpopular teenage girl, one of the most emotionally weak and unstable types of people in the human race. How did she expect it to end? Suicide was a very high probability. Between teenagers, is would almost be expected, but for an adult to do it is just sick. this woman should have received at least 15 years for murder.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By clovell on 5/5/2009 7:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
If she had reached adulthood, I'll play your black and white game and hold her accountable.

The courts will judge accordingly, and when the civil suits hit, this will all come out in the wash.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Solandri on 5/6/2009 4:03:46 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
No she didn't. Pushing is an act of physical violence, and the mother committed no physical trespass against the girl who killed herself. She may have done emotionally malicious and hurtful things, but at the end of the day, she played no tangible part in the girl's decision to kill herself, or in the physical act of carrying out that decision. She's not liable for the girl's death, and to assert otherwise is borderline ridiculous.

Wouldn't your reasoning make blackmail legal, since there is no physical violence involved, only emotional coercion - the threat of the release of embarrassing information?

quote:
Ultimately, I made the decision to take my own life, and no matter what reasons I might cite, or who I might try to blame, the responsibility for that decision is my own, and no-one else's.

I had an interesting discussion about this with some friends when we were comparing homicides with suicides. There are two ways to think of this: The individual point of view (which you advocate), and the societal point of view (which others are advocating).

From the individual point of view, each individual is responsible for his/her actions. So by this viewpoint, the girl was solely responsible for taking her own life.

From the societal point of view, certain actions can directly or indirectly have negative consequences on society. Say cutting off funding to a suicide hotline leads to an average increase in suicides by 10 a month. Of course the people who cut off funding are not directly responsible for those extra suicides. But the fact remains that that action led to the increase in suicides. So if society views suicide as a negative thing, then you want to discourage actions which result in increased suicides.

In the homicide vs. suicide case, from an individual point of view a homicide is very different from a suicide (one was voluntary, the other was not). But from a societal point of view they are the same - a life and future potential to add to and improve society was needlessly wasted.

So while what the mother did may not have been directly criminal, it most certainly is behavior we as a society want to strongly discourage.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By mindless1 on 5/6/2009 4:16:05 PM , Rating: 3
Nonsense. Anyone can be pushed over the edge, even you. The fault lies on the one who does it.

If your boss constantly harasses you in the workplace, yes many forms of that are illegal! Your families' recourse is akin to the justice we hope to see in the Drew case, that your boss, and your employer if the conduct was known, be prosecuted for the legal violations.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By afkrotch on 5/6/2009 5:03:31 AM , Rating: 3
I don't blame the woman. While what she did was cruel, I don't place blame on her. If the girl were to have been dumped by a real life boyfriend, she probably would have killed herself.

Hell, maybe a bad grade in school, her period, or whatever else could have pushed her over the edge.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By mindless1 on 5/6/2009 4:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
... and yet, despite your theories the girl had gone through all the things in her life and was still alive until Drew came along.

If I plow into your car while driving drunk, can we just say because you drive a car a lot it's ok I hit you, because someone was bound to someday?

Hint: If someone else instead did as malicious a thing to the girl as Drew did, that other person would be in legal trouble too. If nobody else did, again I remind you that the girl was alive, proof of enough resistance to normal stresses in life, like any of us on this earth.

If we want to say oh, but she was emotionally wrought, what teenager isn't at some point? That's normal in our society.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By bupkus on 5/6/2009 5:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
This goes well beyond "criminal indifference".


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By DASQ on 5/5/2009 4:57:23 PM , Rating: 1
So being a jerk is jailworthy now? Whatshername never actually killed the teen.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 5:04:50 PM , Rating: 5
Not buying it you guys. She wasn't pulling a prank, and she wasn't just being a jerk. She went way out of her way to create an elaborate ruse with the sole purpose being to emotionally crush a teenage girl.

There's no way you can compare this to, say, a bad joke or even a mean-spirited jab. This took a lot of effort on her part, and she invested a lot of time, in building up a fake relationship with this girl with the full intention of then turning on her and destroying her ego.

Evil. Pure and simple.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By WW102 on 5/5/2009 5:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
I know not everyone is equal when we are talking about mental stability, but we can't start punishing other people everytime a CRAZY person does something CRAZY.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By mindless1 on 5/6/2009 4:23:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, we certainly can when what caused the "crazy" thing was another person acting unlawfully, maliciously.

It's very simple, cause and effect. There is a reason children aren't normally held accountable for their actions until at or at least near 18, because they are still learning about everything in life including coping skills.

We cannot tolerate adults preying on children. Where would it end? Knowing the difference between right and wrong is not as hard as some here seem to think it is, nor is knowing that beyond a certain point, wrong cannot go unpunished because law is meant, among other things, to preserve stability in our society as well as punishment.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By WW102 on 5/7/2009 10:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
It wasnt and cant be just one person. I was a whole bundle of things. Drew just happened to be the final straw. All in all it sucks someone died but obviously this is natural selection. It just wasnt ment to be.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By DASQ on 5/5/2009 5:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
You can make it sound as elaborate and conniving as possible, but at the end of the day A) She stole no money B) She extorted no goods or services C) She did not cause direct physical harm, or conspire to do so. The teen chose to hang herself. Drews did not even go so far as to say "Hey, go kill yourself". She said no one would miss her.

It is no different than me telling you, right now, to go run your head through a meat grinder. I am not liable for what you choose to do.

Until there is a law forbidding 'suggestive reasoning', this is not a real crime.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By BigPeen on 5/5/2009 5:46:10 PM , Rating: 3
You forgot to summarize with the whole, oh she didn't break any laws. Which, I hear, is kind of a requirement for jail time.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 6:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
Causing harm is illegal. Whether emotional, physical, financial, or otherwise.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By DASQ on 5/5/2009 6:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
What country do you live in?

I am no lawyer, but I've never heard of any law in the world that mentions 'Thou shalt not call your neighbor a hussy'.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 7:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
You're seriously going to compare what this woman did to a single instance of derogatory name calling?

Oh, and I live the USA. Where lawsuits are filed and won on a regular basis solely for emotional distress. See post below. Google is your friend.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By rs1 on 5/5/2009 7:12:24 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, the law only recognizes "harm" when it is tangible and quantifiable. If someone breaks your leg, you can hold them accountable because you have tangible proof that harm was caused (your leg is now in more pieces than it previously was), and the extent of the damage is easily quantifiable (you just add up your doctor bills, medication costs, lost wages from being unable to work, etc.).

If someone makes you cry, however, there is no tangible evidence of harm, you just "feel" bad (and things would be a mess if people could sue each other every time someone made them feel unhappy). And the damage isn't quantifiable either, because what's the value of a tear? Or of a happy day? Or a broken heart? You could ask 10 people, and you'd get 10 completely different answers. That's why you can't sue someone for slander just because they said something mean about you and it made you feel bad. To be successful at suing someone for slander, you have to prove that the mean thing that they said caused you actual, measurable damages (such as loss of revenue from a business).

Thankfully, the law is smart enough to make a distinction between intangible forms of harm (such as emotional damages) versus tangible forms of harm (physical damages, financial damages), and causing intangible harm is not at all illegal. If there is no tangible evidence that harm was caused, then as far as the law cares, no harm was caused.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 7:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
...you don't seriously need me to go and find you court decisions finding against the defendant for having caused emotional distress, do you?

Get a grip. We even tax people on awards they are granted by courts solely for emotional distress.

Example: http://www.tax-news.com/archive/story/US_Appeals_C...

...which is not a special anything to me, simply the first thing that popped into Google.

Lawsuits are filed, and won, on a regular basis on nothing but emotional distress.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By rs1 on 5/5/2009 7:57:16 PM , Rating: 2
The emotional distress you reference there is a civil matter/tort, not an illegal act which carries criminal repercussions. It's still not illegal to cause emotional distress, but in civil (*not* criminal) court, an individual can be held liable for any damages proven to be a direct result of emotional distress that they caused. Even in this case, however, the damages still have to be tangible and quantifiable. The general standard is:

quote:
The emotional distress suffered by the plaintiffs must be "severe." This standard is quantified by the intensity, duration, and any physical manifestations of the distress. A lack of productivity or depression documented by professional psychiatrists is typically required here, although acquaintances' testimony about a change in behavior could be persuasive.


So despite your protests, it is still not illegal, in the criminal sense, to cause even severe emotional distress.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By callmeroy on 5/6/2009 12:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
You are arguing for the sake of nothing more than the "I'm right , you are wrong factor" which is always pathetic to me when people do that.

Moto and I have disagreed strongly on issues before, but I side with his argument on this one.

Further you are mincing words - again just for the popular "one up" factor people play so frequently these days.

Harrassment, slander, liable --- all forms of emotional distress .....all *drum roll*....ILLEGAL to do.

The issue of whether its illegal in civil or criminal court is one of the most ridiculous arguments on legal issues I've ever read or heard. Illegal is illegal, the type of suit you bring -- Civil or Criminal doesn't adjust what is legal or not. It merely is a specific set of procedures established for the nature of the cases to properly be handled by the judicial system, since criminal and civil causes have their own set of requirements and definitions for limits / thresholds , etc.

This all said --- the woman definitely should be punished more severely than a fine and simple probation -- but at the same time she shouldn't get a huge sentence either.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By callmeroy on 5/6/2009 12:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
Forgot to add where on earth did you people EVER get the notion that you have to do PHYSICAL harm for it to be illegal? That's a joke -- almost spit out my water on that one the first time I read whoever posted it....


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 6:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
C) She did not cause direct physical harm, or conspire to do so.


Newsflash - physical harm is not the only harm that can be caused. She took elaborate, obsessive actions to cause intense emotional harm.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By DASQ on 5/5/2009 6:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
Newsflash - It's not illegal. You can sue for it, sure, but again, no law against being a jerk.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By Motoman on 5/5/2009 7:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
Laws against being a jerk? No. Laws against deliberately causing severe emotional distress? Yes.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By feraltoad on 5/5/2009 9:01:08 PM , Rating: 2
Should I use the hamburger or sausage attachment? BTW you'll be hearing from my family's lawyer.


RE: This is bull#*@$.
By clovell on 5/5/2009 7:56:36 PM , Rating: 2
Harasment is against the law.


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