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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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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....


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