Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Woman Indicted In MySpace Suicide Case

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the eye-for-an-eye dept.

The Courts 654

longacre writes "The Associated Press is reporting an indictment has been handed down in the sad case of Megan Meier, the girl who committed suicide after receiving upsetting MySpace messages from someone she perceived to be her boyfriend. It was later determined the boy, Josh Evans, was a fictitious identity created by a neighbor of Meier's family. Lori Drew, of a St. Louis suburb, has been charged with 'one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.' Interestingly, despite the alleged crime having occurred strictly in Missouri, the case was investigated by the FBI's St. Louis and Los Angeles field offices, and the trial will be held in Los Angeles, home of MySpace's servers. Wired is running a related story about the potentially 'scary' precedent this case could set."

cancel ×

654 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

"Emotional Distress" (5, Funny)

Reasonable Radical (1283390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430126)

If you can get punished for inflicting emotional distress, I guess Vista really was illegal...

Re:"Emotional Distress" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430510)

>If you can get punished for inflicting emotional distress, I guess Vista really was illegal...

Twitter, is that you?

It's as simple as this (0, Troll)

Erie Ed (1254426) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430130)

The girl got trolled and had her butt hurt. Besides if she killed herself over something like this she must have had some mental issues.

Re:It's as simple as this (4, Insightful)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430304)

She was 13... what 13 year old girl (or boy for that matter) doesn't have emotional issues?

Thats a very unstable and impressionable stage, where shit like the pencil you use in school seems important.

If the case was another 13 year old, I would be rather dissapointed that the charges stuck... however she was/is 49 years old, preying on a 13 year old... thats, just flatout fucking bullshit.

Re:It's as simple as this (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430522)

If my reading is correct, it is all 'alleged' at this point. I'm sure I read that she denied it; yes, this is what it says :

"Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan"

I'll be interested in what happens in 'court' or whatever the next step is (I don't understand the US legalese, eg "Indicted").

Re:It's as simple as this (4, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430590)

Of course it's all "alleged". Until such time as the person is convicted, any reasonable news outlet will use the word "alleged" as a CYA measure against libel charges.

Re:It's as simple as this (2, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430640)

So, it's ok to assume she's guilty?

What's the point in indicting her then? Why not just do an old-fashioned lynching?

Re:It's as simple as this (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430704)

What the hell are you talking about? I cannot find any link between your post and mine, which makes me wonder why you posted it as a reply to mine.

Re:It's as simple as this (3, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430750)

OK. Fair enough. I apologise.

I read 'into' your post stuff you didn't write - ie that the *only reason* for putting 'alleged' is for the paper to avoid libel charges.

Of course this isn't the case. The term 'alleged' actually means something, and that is that she hasn't been found guilty yet. It seems that the majority (all? apart from mine) of posts here have assumed she's guilty already.

She does actually deny the charges, if I read it correctly. People don't seem to consider that she's telling the truth.

Re:It's as simple as this (2, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430810)

You make a fine point and I agree with you. I'm pretty sure that the possibility of libel charges is a big reason why news organizations use "alleged", but sometimes the result of CYA actions is something that's actually good, and I think this is one of those cases. Noble results from selfish actions.

Re:It's as simple as this (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431054)

It's a terrible story, but it still should be treated a civil case. A criminal prosecution because someone put up a fake myspace profile is ridiculous. You could indite half of slashdot with that precedent.

Re:It's as simple as this (5, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431098)

Except half of slashdot didn't create the profiles to terrorize a little girl and cause her to kill herself. In this specific case, a life was lost because of the actions of this woman.

Re:It's as simple as this (4, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431132)

I think people here might be missing the logic behind this.

The "victim" for the computer trespass crime is MySpace, not the girl or her family.

MySpace suffered no financial losses because of this, so this is a highly dubious criminal charge. The family, on the other hand, has a legitimate case which they should take to the civil courts.

(Obviously the base instinct is "get 'em!", but Slashdot should be more perspective about computer crimes.)

Another aspect to the logic behind this is... (4, Insightful)

keirre23hu (638913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431212)

"Get her (woman) any way you can" There is no legal means for prosecuting someone for what she did to the girl, so they found another way to bring charges, i.e. being arrested for resisting arrest or the way Gotti caused the deaths of dozens, but he went away for tax evasion. What she did was not acceptable socially, so the criminal justice system is trying to find a way to squeeze her in. I don't like it, but right now I think its better than having US Code specifying the legality of things like this on the Internet more than it already does. Considering the 80% of congress is technically inept (optimistic) and a different 80% could care less about passing ambigous legislation that can be misused.

Re:It's as simple as this (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431434)

Not to be a jerk, but don't you have to be 14 to use myspace?

Re:It's as simple as this (5, Insightful)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430348)

If the perp had have been a man, he would have been arrested. More importantly, we're not talking about a 13 year old harassing another 13 year old, we're talking about a 40-odd year old woman who knew the victim deliberately crafting a fake persona and instigating it into her life. Knowing that the target - a child - had mental issues, this deranged pathetic excuse for a human being nevertheless persisted in her campaign to deceive the child, involving as many of her own daughter's friends as possible.

This is one of the most twisted things I have heard, and your logic echoes that of the sociopathic, fat, middle aged woman who felt the need to do this "I don't feel bad about this because she had issues with depression".

The woman deserves what is coming, and I will laugh happily every time I hear her family has suffered misfortune - losing their business, pulling their daughter from school and hopefully soon being forced from the community. She acted without remorse and deserves to suffer consequences.

Re:It's as simple as this (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431106)

Don't forget that the woman also asked the parents of the victim to store a Christmas (or was it a Birthday?) present in their garage during all this.

Re:It's as simple as this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431442)

Yes, but her daughter should not be another victim of this woman's missteps.

Back To Reality (4, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430138)

I hate to come across as a "heartless" bastard, but jumping off a bridge (or the equivalent) due to some perceived online relationship failure just doesn't seem right.

Then again, maybe kids today are far too sensitive.

Re:Back To Reality (5, Insightful)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430252)

You're not giving the whole picture.

This was an emotionally abused kid who, because of various problems, was unable to make friends at school. Haven't most Slashdotters been there? Then, she turns to someone online in search of companionship. That person, for months, is her best -- and only -- friend in all the world, commiserating with her, sharing her deepest, darkest fears, and generally being with her in a way that her parents (for all their good intentions) can't be.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it's all taken away. The friend is revealed to be someone malicious, someone manipulative enough to string out this child for months at a time before pulling the rug out from under her. She's now left alone, with no one to turn to. I've never (thank God) been that alone in my life, but reading her story makes me understand school shooters all the more. Eventually, she reached a point where the only thing left to do was escape -- permanently.

This isn't a suicide issue. It's an abuse issue. There would be no suicide in this case without the willful, malicious intent to construct a false friendship created by a knowing adult. There was no reason for it. This was murder, plain and simple. Who knows what Ms. Meier might have done with her life. She could've become a doctor, a pilot, or even a Slashdotter. But we'll never know.

Re:Back To Reality (5, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430308)

I think that prosecuting this case in this way is shady at best, and liable to be used as a precedent for something that people here will be up in arms about.

Then again the woman in question _CANNOT_ be allowed to get away with what she's done. I'm sure that there is mental health legislation that can be used to put her out of circulation for a very long time. The fact that the prosecutors in the state where this happened decided that they couldn't chase this speaks more about their competance than anything else.
This woman deliberately waged a premeditated campaign of psychological violence against a vulnerable child that ended in her suicide and they think that there is no reasonable chance of successful prosecution? What rock did they find these incompetant idiots under...?

Re:Back To Reality (0, Troll)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430576)

MURDER? Are you insane?

Re:Back To Reality (3, Insightful)

Wavebreak (1256876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430654)

Damn right it's murder. She might not have physically killed the kid, but she damn well helped. Just because the violence wasn't physical doesn't mean it wasn't violence.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430714)

If she didn't kill the kid it is not murder, because murder is defined as killing someone (plus other conditions).

Re:Back To Reality (1)

Wavebreak (1256876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430774)

You're right, sorry, I wasn't using the legal definition of the term. I'm pretty much certain it does (or at least, should) qualify as homicide tho.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430802)

Oki. I hope you are aware that she denies it and nothing was proven, though.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

Wavebreak (1256876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430878)

I am, and as usual anything I say should be treated as my opinion and my opinion only. I'm not the courts, thus I don't decide if she's guilty or not, whatever I say is simply my interpretation of what I know of the facts and not guaranteed to be correct.

Re:Back To Reality (4, Informative)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431034)

Maybe you should go look up the legal definition of murder. Last time I checked murder was "any willful act, knowingly undertaken, which causes the death of another person." You don't have to mean to kill someone with your actions. If you do something when you can reasonably infer that doing so would cause grievous bodily harm or death, and you do so anyway because you don't care, it's called depraved indifference. This woman deserves to go to jail for her actions. IN our society is is generally considered unacceptable to prey upon those weaker than us, be it mentally or physically. This woman may not have beaten the girl to death with a hammer, but her actions are just as criminally culpable as if she had. She killed this girl, and her weapon was MySpace.

You may not like it, but you can be charged with murder for driving someone to commit suicide if it's determined you did what you did on purpose. You need not have meant to kill them. Just as you can be charged with murder if you shoot someone and they die, even if you didn't mean to kill them. You intended to cause grievous bodily harm which then lead to death. This woman intended to cause grievous psychological harm which led to suicide.

Layoffs == murder? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431220)

You need not have meant to kill them. Just as you can be charged with murder if you shoot someone and they die, even if you didn't mean to kill them.
Can you be charged with murder if you lay off an employee, and then the former employee cannot find another job, exhausts the six months of unemployment insurance, becomes homeless, and dies?

Re:Back To Reality (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431224)

any willful act, knowingly undertaken, which causes the death of another person.
I: "you are an idiot" (a willful act, knowingly undertaken)
You: [kill yourself]

So I am guilty of murder? I don't think so. It is you who should look up the definition [cornell.edu] :

(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. [...]
-- US Code.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431420)

Possibly manslaughter, and several other crimes. I'll agree that she killed the girl, but for it to be murder (morally speaking), you'd really need a clear intent to cause her to commit suicide.

Re:Back To Reality (4, Insightful)

stdarg (456557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431518)

Whoo finally someone who gets it. I also want to see her parents prosecuted since they no doubt contributed to the girl's sad life. And all of the jerks at her school who wouldn't be friends with her. And her teachers. And all neighbors within a 1/2 mile radius.

It takes a village, and when that village fails it needs to be prosecuted.

Re:Back To Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430594)

Too bad she didn't have psychic powers, she could have fucked up prom instead.

They're all going to laugh at you

Re:Back To Reality (1, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430644)

Then, in the blink of an eye, it's all taken away. The friend is revealed to be someone malicious, someone manipulative enough to string out this child for months at a time before pulling the rug out from under her. She's now left alone, with no one to turn to.

Okay, you get an "A-" for Drama 101, but puh-lease.

If an online friend screws you over, you move on. You don't kill yourself, simple as that.

Yes, we can all loathe the evil Lori Drew, and she very much deserves the shunning of her community. But to say she "murdered" Megan? get serious. We always have choices. Killing ourselves - or not - Always counts as a choice, one which Megan chose over "dealing".

Re:Back To Reality (3, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430736)

If an online friend screws you over, you move on. You don't kill yourself, simple as that.



Yes, because everyone has to behave like a robot, especially teenagers and people with psychological problems.



You might as well say "If you fall down, you stand up again.". Which works for everone who is healthy enough to get up on their own.

Re:Back To Reality (0, Flamebait)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430842)

You might as well say "If you fall down, you stand up again.". Which works for everone who is healthy enough to get up on their own.

Alright, I would actually consider that a good analogy. And I stand by it (no pun intended).

With one modification - If you fall, either someone will come along and help you, or the wolves find you first and have a snack. Megan fell, and rather than look for help (she did have reasonably sane parents, regardless of the closeness of their relationship), she slathered herself with wolf-bait and made bleating lamb noises.


Yes, because everyone has to behave like a robot, especially teenagers and people with psychological problems.

Sorry if this offends your delicate sensibilities, but at the end of the day, Megan chose to end her own life. If it makes me a robot for seeing the situation as it stands, rather than in the biased light of some well-intentioned-but-baseless believe in the sanctity of human life, well then, so it goes.

Re:Back To Reality (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430934)

Sorry if this offends your delicate sensibilities, but at the end of the day, Megan chose to end her own life.

You're again assuming that everyone makes choices like a robot and has a completely unclouded judgement and complete freedom of will all the time. Have you ever been experienced people slipping into clinical depression (and I don't mean feeling somewhat "blue" or "depressive", but the real thing) ? They're not acting like the person you've known anymore. Same goes for many other psychological disorders. Scrap the notion that the human brain is a perfect, computer-like decision-making machine all the time. It's not.

Re:Back To Reality (5, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431558)

Sorry kid, but you have a lot to learn about life. The older you get, especially if you have kids of your own, the more you will understand how wrong you are about this. A child - and trust me, a 13 year old is still a child - doesn't have the emotional stability, strength of character or experience to rationally make the kind of "choice" you're talking about. The human brain continues to physically develop sometimes as late as age 25. I stroggly suspect that you are still developing, too.

A brain can do all sorts of bizarre things; thinking that suicide is a good idea is only one of them. Thinking that there is no value to human life is another. If you really do believe that the sanctity of human life is baseless, I can only feel sorry for you since it's the cornerstone of the family, society, civilization and the species.

Megan was deliberately manipulated by an adult. She was set up like a bowling pin. The person who CHOSE to do so knew what buttons to push so Megan would fall all the harder. I could do the same to a 13 year old by the same methods, but I CHOOSE not to do so, since not only do I value human life, but because I thoroughly understand and *respect* exactly how emotionally fragile a 13 year old can be. The basis of morality is understanding the difference between when you *can* do something and when you *should* do something.

What happened wasn't murder but there was deliberate intent to harm. It's an abuse case that deserves to be prosecuted because it ended in the child's death. All this is cut and dried. The really scary thing is the way it's being prosecuted.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431584)

If it makes me a robot for seeing the situation as it stands, rather than in the biased light of some well-intentioned-but-baseless believe in the sanctity of human life, well then, so it goes.

Well, if life isn't sacred, then that simplifies things a lot: Lori Drew is 49 years old and thus likely to cost society more than she'll contribute during the reminder of her life, so simply kill her. It will safe us money, get revenge for Megan, and send a pretty clear message for any other psychos willing to pull this shit.

I'm surprised you didn't simply suggest this in the first place, rather than went on in irrelevant tangents about choices and responsibility. It's not like any of it matters once the taboo against wantom killing is discarded.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430914)

Hence you succinctly define the problem with the prosecutions case. Mo one has any way currently of accurately knowing what the results will be of this kind of psychological abuse of a minor. Whether it will result in suicidal tendencies, a need for revenge or just indifference. Unlike a physical assault where the result of the attack can be surmised, the person who commits this kind of psychological assault can not guess at the results other than causing pain.

The person who committed the attack is obviously seriously disturbed and perhaps as a result of a criminal prosecution should be subject to psychological evaluation and treatment, perhaps even committed to a suitable facility for a time. A extended prison term would hardly serve any purpose or even set a useful precedent. Clearly though, it does point out the problems of that adults and minors mixing in web social networks, unless those adults and properly trained and are only acting in a supervisory or instructional role.

Re:Back To Reality (3, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431124)

When you have no friends offline, your online friends are all you have. And to find out that the one person who accepted you and never judged you now wants nothing to do with you? That's just too much for a 13 year old who was already shunned by everyone at school to deal with.

Re:Back To Reality (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431506)

If an online friend screws you over, you move on. You don't kill yourself, simple as that.

I don't kill myself. But the girl in question did. And, since the villain here was her next-door neighbour who apparently knew her quite well, it is reasonable to expect her to know that the reaction in this case might be quite extreme. In fact she propably knew it, for why else would she had spent months setting the whole thing up ? You don't spend that kind of time if you think that the subject of your malice is going to shrug her shoulders and move on.

Yes, we can all loathe the evil Lori Drew, and she very much deserves the shunning of her community. But to say she "murdered" Megan? get serious.

Yes, I think it's reasonable to say that she did indeed murder Megan. She deliberately set up as nasty and vicious blow as she could, and Megan died as a result of that.

We always have choices. Killing ourselves - or not - Always counts as a choice, one which Megan chose over "dealing".

Yes, a very logical and rational response. Now guess what depression and other mental problems do to your ability to be reasonable ? Especially since we are talking about a teenager; they are under their parent's guardianship precisely because they can't be trusted to act rationally at all times.

p>>Simply because an uninvolved outside observer can see things in context doesn't mean that a person caught in the middle of it can.

A few thoughts... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430784)

Would the situation be any different if it weren't a hoax?

What if Josh Evans really existed, and was true to what was spoken? Because then it would be a freedom of speech issue.

Re:Back To Reality (4, Insightful)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430260)

Maybe, but a 49-year old woman should know better than to go for such an effort to harass, humiliate and insult a young girl who she knew had psychological problems. The fact that she tried to destroy the evidence is proof that she knew she was doing something very wrong.

Re:Back To Reality (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431114)

My cousin recently went to the funeral of a 13 year old girl who hung herself in her closet because her boyfriend of 2 weeks dumped her. Her mother found her hanging in the closet.

Everyone is so quick to forget how fragile we were when we were that age.

Scary (5, Insightful)

Overkill Nbuta (1035654) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430188)

Wired is running a related story about the potentially 'scary' precedent this case could set."


Really I do not think theres anything scary about what will happen in this case. An adult should be semi responsible for there actions.

How can an adult feel like toying with a young girl with an over self conscious image of herself when they live near them?

I can understand that there could be other circumestances when this could be scary but in this case i thought it was just HORRID what the person did.

Mod me a troll if you want. But i think most people when they read this case realize that what that person did was wrong. And i believe that in most circumstances driving someone to suicide is a crime. I don't care if you say that the person was to emotional, thats a reason that you should be semi understanding and not go out of your way to mess with them.

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430242)

Wired is running a related story about the potentially 'scary' precedent this case could set."
Really I do not think theres anything scary about what will happen in this case. An adult should be semi responsible for there actions.
Exactly, we don't tell people who have stalkers to "get over it". We institute means to protect the person who is being harassed (i.e. don't come within 50 feet).

Perhaps the way they are going about the lawsuit *does* set a scary precedent, and there is a *better* way to approach it, but IANAL. I do think that having protective measures in place is a good thing though. We have them for the real world, why not the virtual world?

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430300)

There's no question that what this woman did was wrong and morally repugnant. But was it a crime?

It's hard to see what she actually did that was illegal. This could have just as easily happened had the boyfriend been real. Lying to someone about your identity isn't a crime (generally speaking).

On the other hand, if she had a reasonable expectation that the girl would commit suicide because of her actions, she could possibly be charged with reckless homicide or a similar crime for what she did. The obvious defense is that she had no way of knowing what the girl would do. I am guessing from the fact that such charges weren't filed that there was no history of suicide attempts, and that the woman likely didn't know (or can reasonably claim she didn't know) about the girl's clinical depression. Without those critical elements, there's no hope of securing a conviction, so it'd be pointless to file charges.

Personally, I suspect she just was trying to get back at the girl out of sheer nastiness, and didn't think too hard about what her actions might lead to. I wonder if she even feels badly about it. I certainly hope so.

That all being said, I think these charges are pretty tenuous at best. I can understand wanting to see justice done, but essentially making up crimes until you find something that will stick is not the way the American justice system is supposed to work, and it is an abuse of power on the part of the prosecutor. Sometimes you simply have to accept the fact that some wrongs will go unpunished because we are simply not equipped to deal with them at the time, and that is the trade-off for living in a free society.

Re:Scary (5, Informative)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430658)

I would expect that she knew about the girl's problems. Her daughter and Megan had been close friends until they got in a fight; the reason Lori Drew alleges she started the hoax was to find out what, if anything, Megan was saying about her daughter. Megan confided in the persona for a long time, until she discovered a sudden onslaught of bulletins revealing all the secrets she shared, personal attacks, and comments about her body and mental health.

When Megan questioned "Josh" about his intentions, "he" responded "You should just kill yourself."

She did. She hung herself with a belt in her closet; it wasn't enough of a height to break her neck, but she crushed her throat and slowly suffocated over the next hour. Her mom found her upstairs, dead, a few days before her fifteenth birthday. She never lived long enough to find out that the cruelty was perpetuated by a grown woman living a few houses down, her daughter, and another neighbor girl.

I've been following this one for a while.

Re:Scary (1)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431020)

Actually, it appears that the last thing she did before killing herself was get into an argument with her mother about this very subject [wikipedia.org] .

I have a hard time placing all of the blame for this on Lori Drew. Yes, she is a despicable person, but it's not at all clear to me that this was really her fault. If it were, couldn't we say that anytime someone kills himself, we can place the blame for the death on the people who were mean to him? Where do we draw the line, exactly?

Lori Drew may have provoked Megan to kill herself. She may have known at the time that was a possibility. Even so, I think it's at best arguable that this is a crime--it touches on very precarious areas of free speech that courts are loathe to tread on.

I don't really want to blame Megan's mother for this death, but it seems to me that if one person were in a position to step in and do something about this, it would have been her. It sounds cruel to say, but Megan's mother failed her completely, and that was probably the single biggest factor leading to Megan's decision to take her own life when she did.

I feel incredibly sorry for Tina Meier. Not just because she lost a daughter--this is tragedy enough--but also because I am certain that she knows exactly what she could have done as a mother to save her daughter, but for whatever reason was not able to do.

And also, because I am sure she realizes that blaming Lori Drew for her daughter's death will not help assuage her own guilt and pain.

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431486)

Contrasting between the two mothers, I would say that their contribution to her death, in Drew's case is a matter of provocation, and in Meier's case a matter of failure at prevention. I think it raises the question of whether either woman had a reason to suspect that she would commit suicide, and I believe that in both cases the answer is no; nor do I believe that it was Drew's intention to drive Megan to suicide.

I think it is clear, however, that Drew's intention, at least towards the end of this scenario, was to use her positions of trust as a family friend, a close friend's mother, and an imaginary boyfriend, to torment the child and cause her anguish. This is the charge levied against her.

Re:Scary (4, Informative)

Wavebreak (1256876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430740)

She might not be guilty of murder, but causing the death of another human being is a crime regardless of whether it was her intention to do so. There are circumstances that might exculpate someone, such as self-defense (in some cases), but none of them apply here.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431204)

You should realize, if not accept, that the code of fair play we subscribe to as law is a substitute for the Law of the Jungle. In the end, in the really real world, might makes right now, and a person divorced from concern of consequences is a predator honed by 4.5 billion years of evolution and likely short on mercy or compromise.

That "mother's" opinion is life is cheap. When it comes to her's I lack sufficent empathy to argue the point. Honestly, a kidnapping followed by tying her to a fence in the dark of night and getting a horse to fuck her to death seems like the sort of end she deserves. Certianly, it'd be a long remembered object lesson on the value of investing in compassion.

Suicide is a choice? Maybe. So is humanity.

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

snkline (542610) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430322)

What is scary in this case isn't that the bitch would be punished. That is why she has been charged, a huge public desire to see this woman punished when there is no clear law that would allow it.

What is scary is that instead of finding some actual law she broke, they are railroading her with an incredibly loose reading of anti-hacking laws. The problem is if she is convicted of this, and it is upheld on appeal, it sets incredibly bad binding legal precedent that violation of terms of service isn't just a civil contract violation anymore, it is criminal computer hacking.

Re:Scary (0)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430434)

What, so if I register for an email account with "Anonymous Anon" given as my name, I've broken the law? We really do live in a police state.

Re:Scary (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430440)

Disregard that, I suck cocks.

(Either I responded to the wrong comment, or slashdot's broke)

Re:Scary (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430488)

It's not just you, I've seen hundreds of mis-replies since the threading rendering was fucked up.

Re:Scary (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431064)

Thanks for the information...I was sure I was reading the right comment above while I was posting, too, so it threw me for quite a loop.

Re:Scary (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431464)

modded +1, Insightful

Re:Scary (1)

snkline (542610) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430462)

If the prosecutions claims don't get thrown out by the trial judge/appelate/supremes, then yes, if the ToS of your email provider says you must provide your real name, and you provide a fake one, every time you access the email, you are performing a criminal computer trespass.

Re:Scary (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431086)

Nope, because the criminal code has a damage restriction of some amount (I think it's $5000+).

In most cases a fake TOS-violating profile won't cost the service provider anything. It will be interesting to hear how this woman's fake profile somehow "stole" at least $5K from MySpace.

Little legal question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430482)

Here in Italy, inducing someone to suicide is a crime. There is no such law in U.S.A. ?

Re:Little legal question (1)

snkline (542610) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430514)

If you knowingly do so, yes, it would be something along the lines of criminally negligent homicide I think. However, the accused would have to be aware that their actions would likely cause the person to commit suicide.

That is probably the problem the Missouri prosecutors had, they couldn't show that Lori Drew should have reasonably expected her behavior to possibly cause Meghan's suicide. And no, telling someone to die doesn't generate sufficient expectation, as the reasonable response from most people would be not to heed your advice.

Re:Little legal question (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430642)

This is all because it is assumed that a person cannot be a sound mind and body, yet still want to top themselves. Insanity is defined by the majority.

Or she had the best intentions.. (0, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430532)

Perhaps she thought that young girls should not invest their emotions in people they meet over instant messenger or on social networking sites and wanted to teach her a lesson. Maybe she was afraid that a predator was going to get this young girl and thought it better to drive her away from this dangerous activity before she got seriously hurt. Clearly her parents were absent from the equation and maybe this woman wanted to teach *them* a lesson.

Maybe if this generation of kids were not such cry-baby emos she would have taken her lumps and learn from the experience instead of offing herself over something so trivial as an internet boyfriend.

Mod you a troll? Are you crazy?? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430932)

What if you off yourself? No thanks, I'll stay the heck away from calling you -anything- after this indictment decision.

And yes, I fully realize that what happened in the article's case is far more severe than calling a person a troll on Slashdot.

On the other hand, the girl also didn't go through the steps of blocking the user, reporting the user to MySpace or going to court to get the equivalent of a restraining order (as a sibling poster pointed out, we have such things for stalkers.. but you do still need to take action yourself to get one). My sympathies to the family and loved ones, my disgust unto the women (sorry, Ms. Grills, but I don't think you should get away from this relatively unscathed) who drove the girl to see only one solution to this, and my middle finger to MySpace for not doing much in the way of anything to educate their users that there -are- many, many options of dealing with this including legal routes. To be named a victim in this case must bring a very unpleasant and awkward feeling in the gut of the powers-that-be there.

Back to my point... -I- don't know what might send a user over the edge, so no troll mod for you.

Re:Mod you a troll? Are you crazy?? (2, Informative)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431108)

Actually, we got into a discussion on this same subject lower down in the replies (I'd say later, but it was two hours earlier or so). The "emotional distress" bit wasn't actually part of the crime, her crimes were using false pretenses to gain access to Myspace (not using her real name) and conspiracy (I believe conspiracy to hurt the girl). So unless you have an elaborate plot to convince me I live under a bridge, feel free to mod me a troll.

Clinical depression (0, Flamebait)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430248)

She had severe depression. If it wasn't this trigger it would have been another. Simply signing up for myspace and logging in for the first time could have been a major contributing factor.

Accessing without authorization? (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430250)

one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.
Ok I understand the conspiracy bit, but accesing protected computers without authorization? What the hell? You don't really need to hack anyone's computer to toy with their head over myspace ...

Or is there something I'm not getting here?

Re:Accessing without authorization? (3, Interesting)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430350)

I think this is automatic when you violate the Terms of Service, which she did by providing false identification when she signed up as this alter ego. Basically, you accessed a system, in this case myspace, which is protect (although minimally) and did so without proper authorization (in the form of your proper identity).

Re:Accessing without authorization? (2, Insightful)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430452)

What, so if I register for an email account with "Anonymous Anon" given as my name, I've broken the law? We really do live in a police state.

Re:Accessing without authorization? (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430716)

Actually, I'm interested in this angle. This is more or less what the argument was against deep-linking years ago, which I think is bullshit.

I think there's a line somewhere between "If it's accessible, I may access it" and "You don't have permission to look at my billboard next to the highway," but I can't say where it is.

I'm reluctant to compare a TOS agreement to a EULA, since you must agree to the TOS before receiving the service, as opposed to a contract you receive after purchasing a product.

I think that this incident's place in that spectrum is that she agreed to the TOS before she signed up, knowing that she was going to violate it, and then used MySpace's resources that aren't public (as in freely accessible). If that was a crime, I would be surprised, but I'm not sure that I'm upset if it is a civil matter. I'm trying not to weigh the emotional component in this, and I think it's a reasonable stance.

Re:Accessing without authorization? (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431088)

I think I understand your TOS vs EULA comparison, but I'm not sure how it applies...the way I see it (which may be incorrect, IANAL) is that where she broke the letter of the law was using a false name when she created her account, i.e., if she had used her own name no crime would have been committed.

If that's true, something's seriously fucked up.

Re:Accessing without authorization? (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431422)

In this case, I was specifically referring to the unauthorized access charge, which refers to the MySpace servers.

Re:Accessing without authorization? (3, Interesting)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431610)

I think I understand your TOS vs EULA comparison, but I'm not sure how it applies...the way I see it (which may be incorrect, IANAL) is that where she broke the letter of the law was using a false name when she created her account, i.e., if she had used her own name no crime would have been committed.
If that's true, something's seriously fucked up.

It's not as fucked up as you seem to think. I can call myself George Bush & even get credit cards under that name - so long as I am not engaging in fraud. If I try to get a credit card using the name George Bush & the Shrub's SSN, I get hammered with extra crimes listed. Using a pseudonym isn't a crime, using one to commit another crime is.

In this case, a service was provided - the account - in exchange for demographic information used to drive marketing. By screwing with the demographic info, she defrauded the company - reducing the effectiveness of the marketing & increasing their expenses while reducing their return. It's basic fraud, obtaining services under false pretenses - I'm not sure why they are using hacking laws instead of fraud/wirefraud ones.

Send the Bitch to Gitmo - Do it NOW !!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430266)

Because the bitch ain't a nice person

What's the big deal? (2, Insightful)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430314)

For once, an accurate first post. "Inflicting emotional distress" should not be a crime, because that means "insulting someone on Usenet" is a crime. Not only would we lose half the world's geeks within a year, but we'd have disgraced our legal system forever.

If you really feel "emotional distress", you can take the traditional response - a duel, either with swords a la D'argtanan or with pistols a la Jefferson or with words a la Usenet. It's entered into by mutual agreement, which means no one gets anything they weren't willing to get. You can walk away from an insult or even a duel - you can't walk away from a lawsuit. My two cents (that's all I have, I'm not allowed to vote, those under 18 being clear idiots by definition) says that taking this into the courts is an insult to both parties. It's a private matter, and it should be settled privately.

Sure, the girl committed suicide, so there's an emotional investment here on the part of the people hearing about the case, but people should be able to realize just what kind of precedent they're setting here. It's not a good one.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430370)

Pretty easy to avoid classifying flame wars between beardy geeks on usenet as this sort of crime, make it only applicable to minors.

I'm sorry, I agree that it's a potential legal minefield, but there are enough distinguishing circumstances that your argument does not hold water. You just need legislators with a brain - finding them might be the real issue.

You state that a duel (or a flame war) is entered into by both parties consent - and you're right. However, this adult posed as another child and befriended the child, only later attacking her with the express purpose of causing emotional distress. As I stated earlier in the thread, were this a man, they would have arrested him and charged him with luring - these chats with the girl often had a sexual dimension, and the 40-odd year old woman knowingly participated.

Re:What's the big deal? (4, Insightful)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430420)

You just need legislators with a brain - finding them might be the real issue.
Congratulations. I've never seen the main problem with our government summed up so succinctly.

More to the point...I saw your earlier post and recognize the situation here, and I don't disagree that this woman has violated the law. Just trying to point out that "infliction of emotional distress" sure as hell shouldn't be the crime here. Find something that should actually be illegal to prosecute her under. But as a minor, I don't want it to be illegal to offend me on the Internet - otherwise, I could sue you (and lose, hopefully) based on your disagreement with me there. I'm an emotionally vulnerable child, and he damaged my psyche! I have no self-respect!

Some people in my generation just need to get the fuck over themselves. I'm not trying to dismiss the pain she felt or say that this woman has done nothing wrong - just please, everyone-who-actually-has-a-voice-in-this-government, prosecute her for something that teenagers can't take advantage of. The law gets abused badly enough without things like "infliction of emotional distress" being illegal.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

lusiphur69 (455824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430600)

Find something that should actually be illegal to prosecute her under. But as a minor, I don't want it to be illegal to offend me on the Internet - otherwise, I could sue you (and lose, hopefully) based on your disagreement with me there. I'm an emotionally vulnerable child, and he damaged my psyche! I have no self-respect!

Your point is well made, and I agree. As I said, it's a real tightrope to balance this concern against the benefits of preventing this kind of 'internet stalking'. In truth, any such law will be difficult to enforce. Ideally, we could find laws that already exist to prosecute her under - I think they're going to have difficulty proving the computer access in particular.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430388)

I think that insulting someone on an online forum is a bit different. When you insult someone you do so overtly. What happened here was nothing short of a planned, over-time, malicious attack, involving deceit, baiting and leading a person on. It's wrong on so many levels.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430426)

Not trying to imply that it's the same thing, or that it isn't wrong. We just need to redefine the crime that was committed. If it's "inflicting emotional distress (on a minor?)", we have a serious problem on our hands.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430446)

That is true.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

Carrot007 (37198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430436)

Why?

How is this anything like insulting someone on Usenet?

That is a direct confrontation with no pretense or anything else.

This case shows someone asuming a false personality with the intent of inflicting harm upon another, presumably though not intending the suicide outcome but who knows, she is certainly guitly of something, what however I do not know, a fitting punishment would be her having idiot brnaded on her forehead maybe.

If both are the same under law then law is stupid.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431046)

What I was addressing was that TFA (and the post) refer to one of her crimes as "inflict[ing] emotional distress" on the girl. I was pointing out that if "inflicting emotional distress" on the internet is a crime, you're basically making it a crime to offend people - which would include insulting someone in a Usenet (or Slashdot, you fool*) argument.

*In case you missed the irony, it was right there.

Look at the free speech issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430862)

I haven't figured that out yet. IS this a free speech issue, or was this conspiracy to harm someone. She clearly conspired to harm someone, but should she be punished, or should it be tolerated to protect free speech.

On the other hand, they might have her on misusing a computer. She did violate the TOS.

Re:Look at the free speech issue (2, Informative)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431056)

Turns out I misread TFA. The crime was accessing private data, not using it to "inflict emotional distress", it was just phrased badly in (or my brain was malfunctioning when I read) the article.

Re:What's the big deal? (5, Interesting)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431354)

I'm not sure I'm saying it properly, but it seems to me that this is going beyond calling somebody nasty names into an entirely new game. The case apparently centers on the manipulation of a minor through cold-blooded deceit and willful misrepresentation. It's the difference between beating somebody up during a fight and torturing a helpless prisoner.

I'm not sure a law covering something like this wouldn't wind up being a cure worse than the disease. However, if this woman actually did what she's alleged to have done, she's a sadist at least and probably a sociopath. People like her wind up getting caught with dead people chained in their basement.

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431430)

It's absolutely a bigger deal than that. The point I was making was that the same law shouldn't cover both. Of course that was based on what I now know to be a false reading of the article (turns out they ARE covered separately, such that one is illegal and the other isn't, as I was arguing that it should be), so it's a meaningless point now, but the point remains.

WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23430368)

A suicidal girl committed suicide, news at 11.

Isn't this "alleged"? (2, Informative)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430554)

Am I missing something?

Everyone's talking about it like she's been found guilty already. Has the case been judged on already and I missed it?

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (2, Informative)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430738)

This is an old story, and Lori Drew has already made public statements on this matter. The facts of the incident aren't being discussed at this point, but rather what charges they can bring against her.

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430758)

Hrm...ok, so there is more to this than in the linked story. Fair enough, I guess....

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430892)

We should both read the title at least; they aren't trying to find charges, they've already indicted her. :)

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (2, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430992)

Well, I don't know what 'indicted' means - it's one of those many words that I only encounter in the US.

I should look it up, I suppose....ah, here we go :

" 1. To accuse of wrongdoing; charge: a book that indicts modern values.
      2. Law. To make a formal accusation or indictment against (a party) by the findings of a jury, especially a grand jury."

I am now assuming we're not talking about (1), but about (2) - ie the jury has already been involved and has found her guilty. What's the difference between 'indicted' and 'guilty' then, I wonder?

..and why all the pussy footing around in the article, if they have been found guilty already? Surely this isn't still 'alleged' if she's been found guilty already.

Clearly, I know very little about US law (or any law, I guess).

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431128)

In many cases (believe it's above-a-misdemeanor or something like that, though it could just be specific types of crimes) a jury is required to even decide that you should be tried, separately from the trial itself. This is like saying "we believe the prosecution will be able to make a relatively good case that she's guilty, so we're having a trial", not saying "she's guilty".

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431164)

ah, now it makes some sense :)

So, she's not been found guilty yet...

Re:Isn't this "alleged"? (1)

snkline (542610) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431322)

No, the U.S. Federal government uses a Grand Jury system (It is Constitutionally required to), as well as most States.

If you've never heard of a Grand Jury, they are essentially large juries convened in order to decide if there is probable cause to charge someone with a crime. Their proceedings are secret, without the defendant and his or her lawyer. The Grand Jury has the power to subpoena witnesses to testify before it. Generally, they subpoena who the prosecutor asks them too, listens to the prosecutors evidence, and either decide there is a True Bill (case can go forward), or No True Bill(insufficient evidence to proceed). Technically their powers are broader than that however, and they can investigate as much as they want with or without the prosecutors consent. Lookup "runaway grand jury" if you want to know more. Stuff like that tended to happen back in the 20s when a Grand Jury believed a prosecutor might be in the mobs pocket or something.

I think Grand Juries are almost exclusive to the US now, because it is required by the Constitution for Federal criminal cases. Some states don't use them anymore, preferring preliminary hearings before a judge instead.

What does technology have to do with this? (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23431502)

The issue here is that prosecutors are using the typical shotgun approach, and firing a bunch of charges at her to see what will stick.

Technology has nothing to do with this crime, and there could be negative ramifications if she is indeed found guilty of federal communication charges for a local crime.

Let's pretend this occurred 30 years ago, and instead of using the internet as the backdrop, the woman and girl simply exchanged letters as local pen-pals. The woman would photocopy the girl's letters, and circulate them around the community, demeaning and belittling the girl. The girl finally finds out, and commits suicide over the humiliation and emotional distress.

So what's the difference here? Society at large demands punishment for this woman, as she acted intentionally to harm the girl emotionally and humiliate her publicly. Whether she did so using sign language, morse code, hand written letters or the internet is irrelevant.

James Vance vs Judas Priest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23431686)

This reminded me, for those of us old enough to remember, of the Judas Priest suicide trial. I know that was a civil case but, in summary, Judas Priest was sued for allegedly putting a submlimial 'do it' message in the song 'Better By You, Better Than Me' triggered James Vance to commit suicide. Judas Priest was acquitted. Not exactly the same situation but along the same concept. Even if Judas Priest did put a 'do it' message in their song, why would they be responsible for the death or any unstable person that kill themselves after listening to it?

Were the Beatles responsible for Charles Manson?

In any event, this is barely a civil matter much less a criminal one.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>