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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 Solandri on 5/6/2009 4:03:46 AM , Rating: 3
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?

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.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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