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MySpace Suicide Case Megan Meier: Lori Drew indicted June 6, 2008

Posted by cyberpatrol in cyberbullying, myspace.
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St. Louis Post Dispatch, 6 June 2008

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles today returned an indictment against Lori Drew of O’Fallon, Mo., in the MySpace case that ended in the suicide of Megan Meier.

Drew, 49, was named in a four-count indictment that charges one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on Meier, who was referred to in the indictment only as M.T.M.

According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien, the indictment alleges that Drew and others registered as a member of MySpace under the name of Josh Evans, then began corresponding with Meier in what the girl believed was an online romance. After the “romance” ended, Meier hanged herself in her room.

By doing so, the indictment says, Drew and her co-conspirators violated MySpace’s “terms of service” that prohibit users from making use of fraudulent registration information, using accounts to obtain personal information about members who are juveniles and using MySpace services to harass, abuse or harm other members.

“This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications,” O’Brien said.

“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.”

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.”

Drew declined to comment, referring questions to her lawyer. She will be summoned to appear for arraignment in federal court in Los Angeles in June; she is expected to surrender to authorities in St. Louis. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison; each count of accessing protected computers also carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said that despite the federal indictment, his position on possible charges in the Meier has not changed. He decided not to file charges after an investigation into Megan’s death, and he said today his position remains the same.

“I couldn’t charge it then, and I couldn’t charge it now,” Banas said. “It’s not a violation of state law.”

Read the indictment

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