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Lori Drew Cyber-Bullying Trial Begins

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the trying-to-outlaw-acting-like-a-jerk dept.

The Courts 317

An anonymous reader writes "The cyber-bullying trial of Lori Drew opened yesterday. She was indicted for conspiring to access and accessing MySpace illegally in order to 'further a tortious act, namely, intentional infliction of emotional distress' (PDF of the indictment). The BBC has background on the case, the NYTimes covers the opening statements, and Wired has today's testimony."

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Dragging on? (0)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846677)

This issue seems to me one of the trials that are just to have a spotlight on a particular issue and could have been resolved earlier without the fanfare.

Re:Dragging on? (5, Insightful)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846725)

Of course. But, then again, people are outraged over this; she supposedly broke the law to intentionally hurt someone.

She's a bitch, and shouldn't be allowed in society. People like this are worthless pimples on the ass of society.

Re:Dragging on? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25846871)

Your post hurt my feelings so much that I attempted to commit suicide. You should be put behind bars for intentionally trying to hurt me through cyber-bullying.

But seriously, STFU.

Re:Dragging on? (3, Insightful)

logjon (1411219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847177)

Your post hurt my feelings so much that I attempted to commit suicide. You should be put behind bars for intentionally trying to hurt me through cyber-bullying.

But seriously, STFU.

Totally agree. If it hadn't been for this, she probably would have offed herself over something equally ignorant. Not to mention that this case is now about "hacking." Essentially, if convicted, it will make creating and using a fake account punishable by up to five years for each offense. I've created fake accounts plenty of times, enough that I would be able to spend the rest of my life in prison. We should really blame Hawthorne Heights and the like for perpetuating a scene that gives you more cool points the more depressed you are. Do I condone the woman's actions? Not in the least. Do I have sympathy for the mother of the suicidal girl? Yes. That being said, if you commit suicide over a myspace message, you were a ticking time bomb anyway.

Re:Dragging on? (5, Insightful)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847275)

And... lighting the bomb doesn't count as "bad"?

No, you can't use the "It was BOUND to happen one way or another" excuse, either; unless you happen to have PERFECT evidence (IE the ability to see into the future) then you can't say for sure that she would have 'offed herself' as you so kindly put it.

Plus, there is the "thin skull" thing in law; basically, if you do something that wouldn't cause a *normal* person harm, but the person has a pre-existing condition (in the original case, a thin skull that was struck and killed the person) that causes the 'normal' action to be deadly, it's *still* murder. In other words, ignorance of a pre-existing condition doesn't exempt you from your actions.

Re:Dragging on? (1, Insightful)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847799)

I'm a geek, I'm *intimately* aware of bullying and what its like to have tortuous acts commited against oneself. I'm also still here to tell you about it. If I'd gone through with some of the plans I had as a teen it wouldn't have been the bullys fault, but *mine*.

For the love of all that is, people need to learn to take some fucking responsibility for the their own actions!

Is this woman a horrible person, yes, is she responsible for *murder*!?!?! HELL NO.

Re:Dragging on? (3, Insightful)

lancelotlink (958750) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847607)

She would have "offed" herself eventually? Perhaps she was on the brink of getting therapy and becoming a more stable person. But now she's dead and doesn't have a chance of getting better.

Re:Dragging on? (-1, Offtopic)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846881)

1) Be the parents of an emotionally fragile girl who Lori Drew drove to suicide
2) kill Lori Drew and claim temporary insanity
3) Do 6 months in jail
4) Sell your story to a publisher, get on Oprah
5) Profit! It's the American way!

Re:Dragging on? (1, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846909)

People like the girl's parents are worthless imo They knew her daughter had severe problems and were doing next to nothing about them.
Girl got trolled to death, how the fuck didn't anyone notice she was THAT fucked up sooner?

Re:Dragging on? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847057)

Lol, trolled to death

Re:Dragging on? (4, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847105)

Mod parent troll! Muhahahaha!

Re:Dragging on? (1)

lunatic1969 (1010175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847219)

I don't know much about the story, but I do know that it's not always obvious someone is fucked up to the point they are going to seriously kill themselves. Sometimes they really just want to die.

Re:Dragging on? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25846973)

So, she's a bitch. I'm an asshole. We are society. Boo hoo, some nutjob killed herself, If it wasn't because of this bitch, then it would have been something else. A bad hair day or some such shit.

Re:Dragging on? (2, Interesting)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847347)

You people think that all triggers affect one equally; from experience, they don't.

Certain people are *far* more prone to affect by social triggers (such as bullying) than others. People who lead otherwise perfectly happy lives can easily become suicidal over constant bullying.

So, until you've been in this situation, fuck off. You obviously have no god damn clue as to what's going on.

Re:Dragging on? (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847545)

So, until you've been in this situation, fuck off.

Quit bullying him, you asshat!

Re:Dragging on? (0)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847557)

Certain people are *far* more prone to affect by social triggers (such as bullying) than others. People who lead otherwise perfectly happy lives can easily become suicidal over constant bullying.

And while that is sad for them, you cannot punish people for happening to trigger this, especially if it is impossible for them to have determined it.

Re:Dragging on? (4, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846739)

When was the proper time to have resolved bullying? It has been an issue for years and has resulted in some pretty nasty retaliation. Noone has cared about it till someone stuck cyber in front of it. Thats it I'm adding cyber to the front of my name so everyone cares about me...

Re:Dragging on? (5, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846743)

This is one of those hard cases which is going to make bad law. There was nothing legitimate to charge Lori Drew with, so they went reaching for any tool available -- in this case, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which has already been pretty badly stretched. If Drew is found guilty (and she will be, on the emotional factor), that sets the precedent that violation of Terms of Service is now a criminal act. Talk about a big stick for ISPs to beat customers with... (share your wifi, go to jail...)

Re:Dragging on? (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846879)

Ooh, you're definitely right about this having the capability to create a precedent that may be abused. Maybe the last court to rule on this case will have a flash of insight and use some language relating to "malicious intent" or "intent to cause harm", but I don't see any ruling against Ms. Drew containing more restrictive terms than that.

there's no slippery slope (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847173)

this case is extreme, an outlier. context is everything. of course someone will try to stretch laws for all sorts of dubious purposes, but if the results of this case doesn't enable them, some other case will. we shouldn't give this woman a pass because someone somewhere might misinterpret the case and read it out of context. they will do that anyway

Re:Dragging on? (4, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847313)

It seems to me that this case must not stand. For one it makes the ISP an agent of the state. For example to lie in a court trial carries a penalty. To lie in a cash transaction may carry a penalty. But lying in social situations is not something that carries weight. In essence it is like saying that a lie told at a cocktail party is the same as a lie told in court.
              Further, people who go online in social contact areas have prior knowledge that all kinds of nonsense may occur. They are free never to enter or to surf to another type of site at any time. It's like porn. If you don't like it you change the channel or turn of the TV.
              And I'm not so sure that anything done purely online can ever reach the edge of torture or harassment. We are not talking about Geronimo and a large group of hostile Apaches circling the wagons here. Vulnerable people need to buck up and stop expecting the world to conform to their tender needs..

Laws are not for enforcing (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847387)

Right now, everyone in America is breaking a law. Whether they are punished for the breach depends on how much money they have, who they know, who they have cheated, and if the public is aware of the crime or not.

They are there so if you get in the way of the powerful, they can throw the book at you. In this case, it's a good thing, since this person, for no other reason than malice, emotionally abused someone just for the "fun" of it. Other times, victimless crimes like possession are used to keep the prison population high and the ghettos under control.

Re:Dragging on? (2, Funny)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847443)

...so they went reaching for any tool available -- in this case, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act...

And such a shame, too! If they had reached another foot or so they could have grabbed the sledgehammer. :(

Re:Dragging on? (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847517)

nothing new here unfortunately . I've long since grown tired of seeing people do things that are perhaps immoral, but not illegal, only to see some unrelated, irrelevant law bent in an attempt to make what they did illegal.

The "bad laws" are the problem here. Too many new laws are hitting the books either with little care taken to limit their scope, or to outright ignore limitations. Loopholes and overly broad definitions are woven in, under the guise that something in the legal machine will act as a sanity-check and "but no one would ever abuse the law". I'm not sure if they're being naive, or doing it on purpose. I know I've long since learned, anything that can be abused, will be abused eventually. It always works that way. Always has, always will. Make something open to abuse, and it will get abused, usually sooner than you expect.

When you make a law with the hopes that some sanity check will prevent abuse, such as interpretation of a vaugity in the law by a judge, you'll find that some judges are naive, some judges have an agenda, and some parties have bottomless wallets to tilt the balances in their favor. The latter of the three being the major problem lately. You can never rely on "the system" only interpreting a law the "correct" way. Either you spell it out, or may as well not even bother. Making a vague law is worse than making no law at all, because when you make a vague law, you transform a situation from being undefined, to being possibly legal or possibly illegal, depending on the day of the week.

Re:Dragging on? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847705)

This is one of those hard cases which is going to make bad law. There was nothing legitimate to charge Lori Drew with, so they went reaching for any tool available -- in this case, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which has already been pretty badly stretched. If Drew is found guilty (and she will be, on the emotional factor)

But will probably be undone on appeal.

Re:Dragging on? (2, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846761)

This issue seems to me one of the trials that are just to have a spotlight on a particular issue and could have been resolved earlier without the fanfare.

Resolved without a trial? You mean like "by death-squad"?

Re:Dragging on? (1)

rockbottoms (1393173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846805)

Resolved without a trial? You mean like "by death-squad"?

No, send in Dexter

Re:Dragging on? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847591)

Same thing!

Re:Dragging on? (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847745)

It's the boyfriend that strangled her to death and hung her in her room making it look like the fault of the woman that was harassing her.

Or am I the only one that watches Law and Order.

Overreaching (4, Insightful)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846775)

Like the NYT article says, this does seem like a case the Federal statute doesn't technically apply to. It's a pretty blatant example of overreaching. However, this woman should clearly be punished. I think the trial's going to have to take a look into who actually wrote the messages that compelled suicide and exactly how much Ms. Drew knew about the victim's mental instability. I still don't know whether or not to think of this as an immature prank gone terribly, terribly wrong, or a real attempt to prey on a weak girl's vulnerable mental state.

Re:Overreaching (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846851)

I still don't know whether or not to think of this as an immature prank gone terribly, terribly wrong, or a real attempt to prey on a weak girl's vulnerable mental state.

It's not both? This woman is a grade-A sociopath, regardless of whether or not she suspected her victim would be so gravely affected as to commit suicide. She needs to be institutionalized regardless of the outcome of her actions, it's just unfortunate that these kind of people are only brought to light when something tragic happens.

Re:Overreaching (2, Interesting)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846951)

Hmm, I wonder if Ms. Drew could be considered to be legally insane. She does seem incapable of telling right from wrong, but I don't know if this behavior is grounds for institutionalization. Maybe just de-internet-access-ization.

Re:Overreaching (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847305)

That opens a terrible door though. Do you really want the government with the power to declare an individual randomly "incapble of telling right from wrong" (maybe you voted for the wrong political party and now fit this criteria) and then institutionalized for it? Remember: it's for your own good.

Truthfully, I think it's clear that what this woman did was wrong, and she SHOULD be punished, but we need to find a non-biased, and clear cut way that doesn't involve personal judgements to explicitly DEFINE what exactly she did wrong, and to what level people should be punished for it.

Re:Overreaching (4, Insightful)

OrangeCowHide (810076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847071)

I have been reading about this case for some time. So far the known points are Lori Drew may have been aware that her assistant (Grills) and daughter were putting together a fake MySpace account to "befriend" one Megan Meier. The assistant and daughter exchanged messaged with the Meir girl pretending to be a boy from Florida who was interested in her. After something upset the real life relationship with the Drew daughter and the Meier girl, the daughter and Grills started using the fake MySpace account to send mean-spirited messages to Megan. Culminating in Grills sending a message telling Megan the world would be better off without her.

You may not have noticed, but the only involvement ever mentioned in connection with Lori Drew is that she may have been aware the account was created. She did not herself create the account. She did not herself send messages to Megan Meier. She did not tell Meier to kill herself.

How does this qualify as "Grade-A Sociopath"? I don't see that anything she did qualifies as wrong, let alone immoral, or illegal.

But Dammit! we need vengeance, and we already gave immunity to Grills if she agreed to testify, so...

Re:Overreaching (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847691)

I wish I had points to mod you informative but I used them today already. Could you provide some links to the points you've brought up? I don't mean to pull the "Citation Needed" on you, but this is contrary to what I've heard about the case.

Re:Overreaching (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847087)

If we institutionalised sociopaths then a large number of corporations would be looking for new C?Os and a large number of political posts would be open.

Not, actually, a bad thing, now I come to think of it...

Re:Overreaching (3, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847489)

If we institutionalised sociopaths then a large number of corporations would be looking for new C?Os and a large number of political posts would be open.

You jest, but leadership is what sociopaths are for.

A sociopath (aka psychopath) lacks any empathy, and is only vaguely aware of long-term consequences. They are also very highly skilled at manipulation. This makes them ideal leaders in the face of an ill-willed adversary. Unfortunately, they hurt everyone they come in contact with, so outside of a leadership job they are loathsome. I have one in the office next door to mine, and the world would be a better place if she were to depart it.

The rate at which mother nature presents us with sociopaths -- from 1% to 5%, it's hard to tell -- indicates the historical size of our tribes, assuming each tribe needs one sociopathic leader. If the birth rate of sociopaths is 2%, then our average tribe size throughout our history is 50.

Re:Overreaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847663)

If we institutionalised sociopaths then a large number of corporations would be looking for new C?Os and a large number of political posts would be open.

A better question would be:

If we institutionalized sociopaths, who would remain on slashdot?

Re:Overreaching (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847185)

This woman is a grade-A sociopath, regardless of whether or not she suspected her victim would be so gravely affected as to commit suicide. She needs to be institutionalized regardless of the outcome of her actions, it's just unfortunate that these kind of people are only brought to light when something tragic happens.

It is a good thing we have such wonderful armchair psychiatrists who can spot who should and shouldn't be locked up based on no scientific or legal qualifications.

What the woman did happens quite a bit every day. The outcome of this was terrible, but locking someone up for an outcome that happened to which she had almost no control over is ridiculous.

If someone commits suicide and writes a note saying it was because they lost their job, should we arrest the person who fired them? Of course not.

It is reactionary policies to such extreme cases as these that make bad laws.

Re:Overreaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847465)

It's almost funny how you start criticizing people for reaching unqualified conclusions, and then you immediately do the same thing.

Re:Overreaching (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847481)

If the employer fired them *specifically* to cause emotional harm, then HELL YES THEY SHOULD BE PUNISHED!

Re:Overreaching (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847405)

If she didn't know, this [wikipedia.org] still applies.

If she did know, and knew that it would cause the girl to commit suicide, then that's just plain murder.

Re:Overreaching (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847631)

There's a difference between telling someone they're an asshole and hitting them with a hammer.

Shall we do a comparison?

You're an asshole. I'll leave you to arrange the second part yourself.

Re:Overreaching (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846855)

I personally don't think that there was a crime here. People have been manipulating other people since the beginning of time. I think that Lori Drew, whatever her real motivation was, is a despicable person.

Re:Overreaching (2, Interesting)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846913)

Actually I think you could make a good case for whoever was at the keyboard being an accessory to the crime of suicide. One of the rare justifications for making suicide illegal.

Re:Overreaching (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847191)

Don't you mean assisted suicide? Because you cannot charge a dead body with crime of committing suicide....

Or can you [straightdope.com] ?

Re:Overreaching (1)

orlanz (882574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847625)

But it certainly makes me "feel" better that suicide is illegal, and we all know that people don't do illegal things.

Re:Overreaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847689)

Actually I think you could make a good case for whoever was at the keyboard being an accessory to the crime of suicide. One of the rare justifications for making suicide illegal.

Drop dead you worthless piece of shit. The world is better off without you. Go and buy "Final Exit".

So, am I an accessory to the "crime" of suicide?

Re:Overreaching (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847349)

If someone does something that is 'wrong' you make a law, you don't trample there rights and use incorrect laws.

Re:Overreaching (1)

sgholt (973993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847357)

Although I agree that the woman is a immoral bitch there is nothing to punish her for...teasing, lying, cheating, hurting of feelings go on everyday in schools, offices, homes and any other place people may gather.
The child was known to have issues with depression and never should have been allow to access MySpace...it is a social network! Her problems prevented her from functioning properly in social situations! She was bound to get hurt whether someone did it purposely or not. Parents lacked responsibilty here.
This is only going to open up emotional reactions, which liberals will eat up like candy until we are all guilty of something.

 

Re:Overreaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847543)

However, this woman should clearly be punished.

True, but in a civilized country you only get punished for breaking the law.

And, in a civilized country you can't pass a law to make something retroactively illegal.

Bastardizing the legal system to punish a woman (despite the fact that she deserves it) is not a good idea.

Counts 2, 3, and 4 are BS. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25846835)

Counts 2, 3, and 4 are basically for violating MySpace's TOS by using a fake name. Since when is using a fake name a crime?

Re:Counts 2, 3, and 4 are BS. (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846941)

That is why this case is so scary. If she can get put in jail for violating the TOS of a website then it would spell disaster for the internet.

People want her in jail because the outcome of what she did was so terrible. However, people do this all the time. She did nothing legally wrong. Making what she did illegal is going to spell trouble for everyone's freedom.

Re:Counts 2, 3, and 4 are BS. (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846989)

I agree, this is going to be taken by a lot of people as a reason why there should not be anonymity on the internet and why attempts to assume a fake identity on the net should be viewed as criminal. Maybe all we need is a law that says it's illegal to be a manipulative, predatory jackass anywhere.

Indictment Right / Law Wrong? (1)

Opr33Opr33 (1180091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846847)

As pointed out by another poster, this case is relying on a law that doesn't really fit the facts. But as our society continues to evolve, we must learn to adapt and deal with life online. Law is fluid and this case is just the beginning. Given enough time, the laws will have evolved to more adequately deal with our digital world.

As a side note, a new tag should be created for this story...finallyarevelantpostfortheslashdotcommunity.

Re:Indictment Right / Law Wrong? (1, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847267)

The point is that the law should have to catch up. You know that whole no 'ex post facto' rule in the constitution? When anything you don't like can be called illigal by purposefully misinterpreting the written law, you have thrown a very important part of our constitution out the window.

Yeah, the woman did a horrible thing. And yeah, you could argue that there should be a law against it. But the point is that there isn't one. And if there's no law, than the justice system should have no power to punish you. If you really want to punish her, too bad. Change the law so that the next person can be dealt with legally and according to the rules laid out in the constitution.

Re:Indictment Right / Law Wrong? (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847753)

"And if there's no law, than the justice system ..." There is no law than the justice system what are you saying? Do you perhaps mean "And if there is no law, THEN the justice system ..." Come on people this looks really bad and screws up my enjoyment of your armchair "legislating" and "sociopathic" ranting about your "right" to make up fake myspace accounts for your own purposes.

Re:Indictment Right / Law Wrong? (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847391)

No, this is a butchery of law, because it's not actually illegal to be a jackass until someone kills themself. Sure, someone lied on their MySpace application, which is really a trivial offense. This is a case of selective prosecution. If every EULA clickwrap scofflaw was prosecuted like this, every man, woman and child in the country would be in jail. I refuese to engage in witch hunts over unrelated discrete acts. And law does not need to evlove. It needs to go the other direction and be reduced to the simplest set of abstractions possible. Good laws don't need to be updated for technology changes.

Wrong Way (3, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847611)

Actually, the big issues here are that the law is being misapplied to fit circumstances clearly not within its purview, and the action itself isn't actually criminal.

This is a perfect case for a civil suit instead. What they are doing is taking a "tort" (punished via lawsuit) and turning it into a "crime" (punished via criminal charges and prison).

This entire case should have been in a civil court from the beginning.

Re:Indictment Right / Law Wrong? (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847643)

What's so special about the internet? If I do some offline trolling [kuro5hin.org] ("I guessed she knew Jarry then, but didn't say so. It seems that the married guy had a few beers, too, bacause he's telling me he was fucking Jennie when she was 15. She looks decidedly embarrassed. So I take a shot in her behalf. 'Oh, then you're a pedophile?'") and the guy kills himself over it. Is there a law that would have me incarcerated? If so, use that law for the internet. If not, then again, what makes doing it on the internet any different?

Not catchy enough (4, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846861)

The cyber-bullying trial of Lori Drew

Its a nice attempt, but it simply can't compete with the likes of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, or The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension. Or even The Adventures of Baron Munchausen for that matter.

Charged with the right crime? (4, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846867)

What Lori Drew did was reprehensible and possibly illegal, but I get the feeling that she's being charged with the wrong crime. "Accessing MySpace illegally?" Now, I don't have a MySpace page, but it was my understanding that anyone could open a MySpace page and use it to contact other people. You don't even have to give your real name when you do so. I'd rather see some harassment charges or even something along the lines of manslaughter. What she did was psychologically manipulate that girl until she killed herself. That was the crime. MySpace was just the method.

Re:Charged with the right crime? (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846961)

totally agree, IANAL, but I really dont see the "hacker" connection here... manslaughter yes, hacking no.

Re:Charged with the right crime? (1)

Beyond Opinion (959609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847003)

"Accessing MySpace illegally" is apparently their way of saying she violated MySpace's terms of service, which (according to the BBC article) says MySpace cannot be used to "harass, abuse or harm other members."

Thats the problem - this is a fishing expedition (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847139)

If you read the story its because they can't nail her for the suicide they are doing this because "they have to do something". Which makes this case all the worse. I am wondering if the "hate crime" angle wasn't explored, its as silly as the approach they are taking.

So basically she does something which causes another to harm themselves. Technically she didn't cause the harm and as such is immune to prosecution. So instead they will twist a law and trump up some charges on this twist in regards to rules violated no one would ever consider for serious prosecution.

Lovely, whats next. If crap like this succeeds it opens everyone up to any fishing expedition law enforcement cares to make

Forget the trial (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847165)

Just give me a tire iron and five minutes alone with that bitch and we can forgo all the legal intricacies.

Re:Forget the trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847621)

Just give me a tire iron and five minutes alone with that bitch and we can forgo all the legal intricacies.

You realize that if she tries to track you down for the threat (we all know you are kidding and mean no harm in any way, shape or form but for the sake of the argument) and you gave /. fake registration information you could be charged with the same crime?

Chilling case.

Charged with the wrong crime (5, Insightful)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847187)

Nice, you hit the nail right on the head. If this were done through any medium other than the internet, she would have gotten the charges you mentioned: harassment, maybe manslaughter, maybe accessory to a suicide. But since it's the big and scary internet (and who knows what your kids are doing on there) it's clearly her unfair voodoo use of MySpace that receives the most focus. Just imagine if she had written that teenaged girl a letter instead. Nobody would be saying that the big issue here was violating the ToS of the Postal Service.

Impersonation and fraud (5, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846921)

It seems to me that one of the implications brought by the defense here is that somehow, using a Facebook assumed identity to try and talk someone into killing themselves has less criminal value than writing threatening anonymous letters or talking on the phone while masking your voice. Shouldn't this whole trial be hinged on whether she has used her prior knowledge of the girl's emotional distress to talk her into suicide, rather than whether or not she commited computer fraud?

Re:Impersonation and fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847169)

At one point there had been a significant distinction between Myspace and Facebook.

Re:Impersonation and fraud (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847479)

Right, Facebook had more reliable pictures of college-age girls doing things for the camera.

Re:Impersonation and fraud (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847369)

"..., rather than whether or not she commited computer fraud?"

A) Is that a crime? as in written into law.

B) If it is, that would be hard to prove.

If there is no law, then she shouldn't be tried. Use this effort to make a good law, not to stretch existing laws far beyond their intent.

Re:Impersonation and fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847401)

Shouldn't this whole trial be hinged on whether she has used her prior knowledge of the girl's emotional distress to talk her into suicide, rather than whether or not she commited computer fraud?

Yes. But it isn't illegal to use her prior knowledge of the girl's emotional distress to talk her into suicide. They had many lawyers check.

So, they are trying to convict her on a ridiculous charge, because they want to try convict her of something.

Wider implications (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25846963)

If she is found guilty of 'torturous' acts, does that mean that psychological techniques will then be redefined as torture? If so, what implications does that have for the US military's treatment of detainees?

If she is convicted, but there is no change in military policy, isn't that a double standard?

Re:Wider implications (4, Informative)

ratbag (65209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847077)

"tortious", not "torturous".

constituting a tort; wrongful.

Re:Wider implications (1)

DeeVeeAnt (1002953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847095)

Tortious is not the same thing as torturous. Tort is some sort of legal term, but I have no idea what it actually means.

Re:Wider implications (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847183)

Of course it is a double standard. But there is a difference between government law enforcement against and everyone else. Codified into law, there literally are, two standards.

Given "just cause" agents of the government can do what ever our laws allow them to do. There are many things the police and military personal can do legally, and many more they can get away with, that I could not.

An officer can probably get away with bringing a gun just about anywhere, while I could not. [S]he could also get away with pulling that firearm on anyone and wouldn't even get a slap on the wrist unless that person was famous and no physical harm was done.

I couldn't get away with tasering someone for being an asshole, that would be assault.

Also, those acts would not have been torturous had they been perpetrated against me. But had they been committed against me @13, I would be much worse off.

Additionally, even comparing this to a military situation is trolling. I'm hoping you can see that difference. If you can't see the distinction (whether you agree with it or not) between war-time actions and non, then I wonder what country you live in.

I'd be happy... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25846997)

if you all'd go kill yourselves. I don't like you anymore, Slashdot. You're fat and ugly :3

Re:I'd be happy... (0)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847311)

Well, Mr. A. Coward (if that's your real name), you'd better hope this trial ends in acquittal or else I'm killing myself and suing your ass!

And Reiser wants a new trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847025)

How about he meets up with this lady, and let him have a piece of her and see how she like it. Death by Reiser has got to be one of the worse ways to go.

A better crime? (5, Insightful)

Hikaru79 (832891) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847035)

I don't understand... clearly the charges are just the first thing they could think of to charge this terrible woman with, because the actual wrong committed (driving a girl to suicide) is not explicitly illegal anywhere. So they chose... 'computer fraud' and violating MySpace TOS?

Hello!? This is a 30+-year-old woman lying about her identity in order to start a romantic relationship with a 13-year-old girl! Of course her intent was not sexual but if Lori Drew's HUSBAND had perpetrated this exact same "prank" I guarantee the not-quite-accurate charge would have been sexually soliciting a minor, not breaking a EULA!

The jury is sympathetic enough in this case that I think this charge could definitely pass...

I have mixed feelings about this case (5, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847045)

On the one hand, the federal case is rubbish. Intentionally inflicting emotional distress is so subjective of an offense as to be unconstitutional (judges have used vagueness as a reason to strike down statutes). This case is now clearly entirely one of catharsis for the community and a career opportunity for ambitious prosecutors.

Yet, I think there can be a case under state law that Lori Drew murdered Megan Meier. I looked it up before, and remember seeing that it said that if you knowingly cause someone to be killed, then you are guilty of murder, and that's a good definition of what Drew did here. With basically demonic-level of malice of forethought, prodded and goaded this girl into exposing herself emotionally to a fictitious lover, knowing full-well that she had some severe issues with depression, and then she stabbed the girl and butterflied the wound.

It's no wonder why Meier committed suicide. On some level, Drew knew what she was doing. It's already been established in previous reports that she knew all about this girl's psychological problems, and her reported behavior is that of a true predator. She can't claim innocence like "gee golly, I didn't know she very well might kill herself if I set her up for that much anguish and suggested to her that the world might be better off with out her (which Drew did suggest to her)."

Personally, I would like to have seen a state prosecutor charge her with at least second degree murder because it's a very reasonable conclusion from the evidence that Meier wouldn't have committed suicide had Drew not done what she did, and Drew had a reasonable basis to know that her actions would lead to the girl's suicide.

Re:I have mixed feelings about this case (4, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847289)

"Personally, I would like to have seen a state prosecutor charge her with at least second degree murder because it's a very reasonable conclusion from the evidence that Meier wouldn't have committed suicide had Drew not done what she did, and Drew had a reasonable basis to know that her actions would lead to the girl's suicide."

IANAL but it's my understanding that the deference between first degree murder, second degree murder and manslaughter is premeditated, unplanned (ie: passion killing) and without the element of intent (wanted to hurt him, didn't mean to kill him) respectively.

So by your logic the grounds would be first degree murder since, by your words, she had every reason to know that her actions would lead the girl's death and her actions were conducted over a period of time. Not in the heat of the moment.

Re:I have mixed feelings about this case (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847743)

It isn't possible to 'know' another persons state of mind. She could have had good reason to believe certain things about the girl, but it is pretty muddy to say that saying "You should kill yourself" is the same as pulling a trigger on a gun.

Re:I have mixed feelings about this case (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847329)

Well said.

Yet, I think there can be a case under state law that Lori Drew murdered Megan Meier. I looked it up before, and remember seeing that it said that if you knowingly cause someone to be killed, then you are guilty of murder, and that's a good definition of what Drew did here. With basically demonic-level of malice of forethought, prodded and goaded this girl into exposing herself emotionally to a fictitious lover, knowing full-well that she had some severe issues with depression, and then she stabbed the girl and butterflied the wound.

I think it's important for this case, and for any subsequent law, to make a distinction between adults versus adolescents. The law should regard adults as capable of defending themselves from emotional attack... but teenagers are understood to be emotionally wobbly. In their condition they are, in some situations, unable to defend themselves, or to understand the nature and implications of their emotional attacks on each other. That's all fine and unavoidable... Where the law should intervene is when an adult -- master of the emotional realm -- enters the fray with intent to harm.

Re:I have mixed feelings about this case (1)

Harin_Teb (1005123) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847571)

Any first year torts student knows that Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is NOT an unconstitutionally vague offense, but is a well established tort cause of action.

The elements for IIED are typically as follows, however it varies from state to state.

      1. Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and
      2. Defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous; and
      3. Defendant's act is the cause of such distress; and
      4. Plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of defendant's conduct.

(see Wikipedia's entry on IIED for more).

everyone on slashdot will react to this (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847083)

as if the woman is prosecuted for saying she doesn't like gw bush online

no folks, this is way beyond simple thought crime

context is everything:

1. the woman knew the girl was emotionally unstable
2. the woman is an adult, the girl was a minor
3. the woman purposefully set up a fake account with the intent of faking a boy who was interested in her, got her interested in this fake person, and then started insulting her, in the role of the fake boy, and suggesting she commit suicide

in other words, an adult willfully manipulated an emotionally unstable minor over a prolonged period of time with the intent of causing her psychological harm

surely some of you can support any law coming out of this case. surely some of you recognize this case is an extreme outlier and can in no way be confused with everyday garden variety trolling and meanness

if the law is limited to the context of an adult purposefully causing psychological harm over a prolonged period of time to someone they KNOW is a minor and is emotionally unstable, surely you can see that the idea of a slippery slope does not apply

context is everything, and the context here is really extreme

Re:everyone on slashdot will react to this (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847395)

There is no crime there.
It's wrong, but what law did she break?

Of course

technicality (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847525)

the moral reprehensibility of what she did obviously has to be punished. the idea of laws is to maintain a well-functioning society. we have laws against rapists, murders, etc., so we can keep these people away form society. this woman is a psychopath. she should not be allowed to be free in society. she has aptly demonstrated she is a danger to others. whatever law exists or does not exist, the moral basis for her punishment is 100% sound

Re:technicality (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847807)

That isn't how a fair justice system works.

If what she did was so bad and she should be punished but she didn't break any laws then bad luck she should get away with it.

The solution is to enact laws to make whatever is so bad a punishable offence. Now if she or anyone else does it again they can be punished.

One person getting away with something is completely irrelevant - and in the grand scheme of things completely unimportant. Just pretend they never found out "who dun it" like with thousands of other crimes if it makes you feel better.

If she's so evil she needs to be kept away fromk society, then she'll do it again and the new law can then be used. (and yes another dead person is a small price to pay, for staying away from being a total police state).

Re:everyone on slashdot will react to this (1)

sabs (255763) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847741)

She broke the law of being a human worth keeping around.

Re:everyone on slashdot will react to this (1, Informative)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847403)

Maybe you should make sure you're putting the correct person on trial here.
"The Woman" who actually typed the messages and talked the girl into killing herself is immune from prosecution because she agreed to testify against Lori Drew. Ms. Drew was not the originator of any of the messages from the fictional boy to the girl.
Examining the available facts indicates that this was an activity which Ms. Drew's assistant and daughter engaged in.

thank you for summarizing the defense's position (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847651)

the facts i read them show her to be the originator of the messages, not the assistant or the daughter. every convicted murderer or rapist likewise wan't there or was tricked in to
the crime

but we shall soon see, as the case proceeds in a court of law, won't we?

but thanks for your helping of bias

Re:everyone on slashdot will react to this (1)

sabs (255763) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847713)

The law they are using is rubbish, and this is a terrible case to be trying. It should get thrown out of court.

That being said.

The defendent should be taken out back and stoned to death Biblical style.

If this had been a man, dealing with this young girl, he would have been charged with some flavor of child molestation law.

I still feel that it should be a crime to commit identity fraud online.

It should be alright to be anonymous.
It should be alright to use a clearly fake pseudonum. Halo79 or something. You should not be required to provide your real name.
But
It should be illegal to out and out lie about who you are. You cannot present yourself to be John Witherspoon, when your name is Nathan Rockwell.

59 year old men, should be chargeable for a crime, for presenting themselves as 17 year old girls, or what have you.

What this woman did should clearly be a crime. But the crime she's actually being charged with is complete Rubbish

Re:everyone on slashdot will react to this (1)

Patchw0rk F0g (663145) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847735)

Thanks for this. I was really inspired by the bottom-quote today, in light of most of the responses to this article:

The more I see of men the more I admire dogs. -- Mme De Sevigne, 1626-1696

I don't know if context is the most important part of this, although it's more relevant than other issues brought forth. (Emo kids? GW Bush? Fuck me...) The real issue here is the abuse -- abuse to death!!! -- of another person. I personally don't care what the mechanic of that abuse was: MySpace, stalking, kidnapping, Facebook, playground bullying, financial or identity theft... what was the end result?

The result was the death of a human being. Period.

It's really nice to sit back on a forum and analyze, and dissociate. It's easy to remove yourself from the humanity of the situation. I'm not a social networker, but I'm as choked as anyone that something Internet-related was involved in something this heinous. That said, this reflects our evolution. We've gone from the playground to the virtual ground, from the meatspace to cyberspace. The mechanic is different; the results of abuse and violent behaviour are the same.

I'm not sure which makes my guts clench more: the fact that some psychotic bitch was able to use a supposedly-benign site to inspire another person to end their own life, or the idiotic, inhuman responses I've seen here from people reacting to this story. Even given that most of these crass responses are from ignorant adolescents who know the value of human existence from Halo and Half Life, I'm fucking appalled at what I've read.

Thanks for participating. Perhaps you're too jaded to suffer such abuse to such an extreme. I hope that everyone you love is as strong as you. Otherwise, you'll be reading these responses with the bitterness and bile that I'm sure the victim's family has.

If she gets canned... (1)

jornak (1377831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847227)

millions of emo kids everywhere with suicidal tendencies will start suing their parents for 'torturous acts'.

"Cyber Bullying"? (0, Redundant)

XTrollX (1398725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847281)

I get called an insensitive clod all the time, but I don't go to the police saying I've been harassed. This article belongs in Idle with all the other junky news :)

Re:"Cyber Bullying"? (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 5 years ago | (#25847791)

This went a little further then calling someone an insensitive clod, you insensitive clod.

I see a sequel here: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847787)

"Mean Girls 2: The Inter-webs"

Sympathy for Lori Drew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25847795)

Lori Drew was worried about her child being bullied, and took measures to verify if this was happening.

Megan obviously had the capability of committing violence against someone, as she did against herself.

Sad story, but I can sympathize with Lori as a mother protecting her own child.

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