MySpace Hoax Results in Indictment! Lori Drew Faces 20 Years In Prison

May 15, 2008

Two years after Megan Meier committed suicide Lori Drew, age 49, was indicted for her alleged role in Meier’s death.

In an earlier blog I wrote:

In 2006 a Missouri teenager hanged herself after being rejected by a 16 year old boy she met on MySpace. Well, at least that’s what she thought. The reality was the “16 year old boy” was really the mother of one of the girls former friends.

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The motive? It seems the mother was allegedly trying to exact revenge on Meier, who had allegedly dissed her daughter. This sick, twisted and childish choice took and emotional toll on a young person who was emotionally vulnerable and cost her – her life!

The earlier blog is presented in full here.

According to a CNN report –

Drew faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

The indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Drew and others of registering on MySpace as “Josh Evans” and using the account to lure Meier into an an online romance.

Authorities have previously said that Drew set up the account to find out what Meier, who lived in her neighborhood, was saying about her daughter.

Lori Drew of O’Fallon, Missouri, was named in a four-count indictment returned this morning by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on the girl who,
because of juvenile privacy rules, is referred to in the indictment only as M.T.M.

After approximately four weeks of flirtatious communications between “Josh Evans” and M.T.M., Drew and her co-conspirators broke off the relationship. Within an hour, M.T.M. had hanged herself in her room. She died the next day. “This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “After a thorough investigation, we have charged Ms. Drew with criminally accessing MySpace and violating rules established to protect young, vulnerable people. Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering website to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences.”

MYSPACE RULES: It seems that to become a member of MySpace, individuals are required to submit registration information – including name and date of birth – and have to agree to certain TOS that regulate their use of the website. Among other things, the MySpace TOS require prospective members to provide truthful and accurate registration information; to refrain from using any information obtained from MySpace services to harass, abuse, or harm other people; to refrain from soliciting personal information from anyone under 18; to refrain from promoting information that they know is false or misleading; and to refrain from posting photographs of other people without their consent. The indictment alleges that Drew and her coconspirators violated all of those provisions.

The indictment, while not a conviction, alleges that the defendant – Drew – did commit a crime. Characterized as “cyber-bullying” the actions that have not been disputed show a pattern of abuse and a clear violation of the terms of MySpace.

Ron Meier, Megan’s father, watched television newscasts announcing the indictment and was overcome with emotion

“It’s a a good day,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

He said now he expects the Drews to feel some of the pain and suffering “that I’m going to feel for the rest of my life, not having Megan here.”

COMMENTS:

Ron Meier’s comments are understandable. However, every choice has a consequence and healing can’t truly take place until the negative emotions are dealt with. Revenge, hatred, anger – whatever is felt may be justifiable on one hand. Yet, emotions that have a negative base will not move one forward. They are not the foundation for positive results.

As a speaker to youth and parents alike about social networking – mostly MySpace and Facebook, etc. – I have the opportunity to help folks understand how to effectively us the tools without becoming a victim of them.

The Meier’s have suffered a terrible loss – a senseless loss – yet, across the board there were more people involved in what took place than just Megan or Drew. As parents, if we want to protect our children, we must understand the playing field of social networking and help to monitor what is taking place and bring understanding and order to MySpace and other forms of internet communication. It is too easy to take on a role that can have a terrible consequence.

Every choice has a consequence. Lori Drew and others will soon be finding out the consequences of their actions. No – there is nothing that can be done to bring Megan back. However, the choices that are made now can bring meaning and value to her death.

For now, teen ethics speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…

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