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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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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).

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/07/03/craigslist.gir...

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
quote:
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.

quote:
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?

quote:
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.

http://web.archive.org/web/20071225173650/http://a...
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,341089,00.html

quote:
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.


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