×

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!

Lori Drew Trial Results In 3 Misdemeanor Convictions

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the justice-or-not dept.

The Courts 568

grassy_knoll writes "As a follow up to an earlier story, the Lori Drew 'cyber-bullying' trial has resulted in misdemeanor convictions." grassy_knoll quotes from the AP story as carried by Salon: "The Los Angeles federal court jury on Wednesday rejected felony charges of accessing a computer without authorization to inflict emotional distress on young Megan Meier. However, the jury found defendant Lori Drew guilty of three counts of the lesser offense of accessing a computer without authorization. The jurors could not reach a verdict on a conspiracy count. Prosecutors said Drew violated the MySpace terms of service by conspiring with her young daughter and a business assistant to create a fictitious profile of a teen boy on the MySpace social networking site to harass Megan. Megan, who had been treated for depression, hanged herself in 2006 after receiving a message saying the world would be better without her." Adds reader gillbates: "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines — a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

568 comments

Shit (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903267)

She's an asshole though.

Re:Shit (3, Insightful)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903323)

Yea she is. Although im sure she wouldn't have done it if she knew what would happen, there are consequences. This story is kind of a nightmare for anyone, because im sure everyone here has harrased someone to a point where they might have felt bad about it. Picking on someone in class, or always giving shit to the person you dont like. Its too bad that happened, but for me, if reminds me just how much words can hurt someone. Make me think a little bit next time a give a death threat to the guy at McDonalds for putting no pickles on my burger instead of extra pickles.

Re:Shit (5, Funny)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903409)

Oh YOU'RE the extra pickles guy.

I always get your damn burger after I've ordered no pickles. Dammit.

Re:Shit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903601)

Herein lies the problem with the American way of life. If someone is an asshole to you they KNOW that you cant reach over and smack them in the face.

It's why these jerks on the highways and roads, tailgaite you, cut you off, and generally put your life in danger for their convenience. If they knew that I would stop my car and kick their ass, they would not do it.

Honestly a lot of people in his world need to be smacked in the head, all the way to having the ever living crap beat out of them. If that happened more and Judges had 1/4 a brain and said," you deserved to be smacked.. you cover all court costs and his costs as well." Then the world would be far more polite and less jerkwad filled.

Yes that applies to cops too.. if a cop is an asshole, we deserve to be able to wait for him after work and kick his ass.

Re:Shit (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903591)

"She's an asshole though."

Well, but, that is not against the law...if it were, well, the prisons would be bursting at the seams even moreso than they do now..

I hope this gets tossed out on appeal. While what she did was reprehensible, this sets a dangerous precedent. You can get a misdemeanor conviction with jail time and heft fine just for joining something like myspace under false name, etc?

Even if you think she is a bitch and should get some punishment for what she did....I'd hope you would not like to have a precedent of this type of conviction that could be used against someone doing something as innocuous as joining a website under a false name....

Re:Shit (5, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903643)

Adds reader gillbates: "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines -- a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."

how so? i register on websites with pseudonyms all the time. this does not trouble me at all (other than the fact a grown woman would conspire with her daughter to bully a neighbor's kid, especially a young girl with emotional problems).

the problem isn't with the interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in this particular case. the problem is with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [wikipedia.org] itself. this incident actually resulted in the death of a girl and was motivated by deliberate malice. a maximum (which are rarely handed out to members of privileged social groups) of 3 years in jail and $300,000 doesn't seem any more ridiculous than handing out such punishments to well-intending security experts [cnet.com] .

i would be more disturbed by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act being applied to non-malicious teenage hackers breaking into un-secured government networks out of curiosity. if they can be faulted for "damages" that include the time spent investigating the intrusion and fixing the pre-existing security flaws, then certainly a grown woman can be punished for causing the death of a little girl.

in any case, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act needs major reforms, and perhaps making such ridiculous laws applicable to the general population will open people's eyes.

let this be a warning... (4, Insightful)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903273)

if you sign up under a pseudonym... don't kill anyone.

(and before everyone screams at me, yes I understand just how badly this precedent can be used)

Re:let this be a warning... (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903429)

Who did she kill? I read that the girl committed suicide, so again, who did Lori kill?

Re:let this be a warning... (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903469)

Well, put it this way. If I tell you I'm a doctor and that you're terminally ill and that you'll die in horrible pain pretty soon, and based upon that believe you shoot yourself in the head, it's a suicide but it was induced by deception.

-jcr

Re:let this be a warning... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903609)

"Well, put it this way. If I tell you I'm a doctor and that you're terminally ill and that you'll die in horrible pain pretty soon, and based upon that believe you shoot yourself in the head, it's a suicide but it was induced by deception."

Still...is that against the law??

Remember the only reason they went after under these statues is...they could not find any law applicable to what she did. What she did was not illegal under any standing laws.

Stretching laws to try to get someone bad, that did not break a law, is VERY dangerous.

The girl killed herself. Sad....but, not against the law in what Lori did.

Re:let this be a warning... (5, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903725)

Still...is that against the law??

I'm not sure. I know some countries have laws against inducement to suicide, I'd have to ask an attorney whether any US states do.

Seems to me that justice would have been better served here if someone had just beaten the crap out of Lori Drew, and gotten acquitted for it due to extenuating circumstances.

-jcr

Re:let this be a warning... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903699)

No, it would be a suicide induced by stupidity, specifically of the person who killed themself.

Re:let this be a warning... (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903507)

That's a very good argument, actually. I wonder would the same thing have happened if it was someone from her school, using a legitimate profile? While the woman was antagonizing the girl, I'm troubled by this ruling. I'm very conflicted.

Re:let this be a warning... (2, Funny)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903463)

How about this: don't fucking sign up with a pseudonym you fucking criminal!

Oh wait.

Re:let this be a warning... (2, Insightful)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903687)

That doesn't (and shouldn't) make you a criminal. I know someone, practically family, who went through a horrible ordeal because of someone she was supposed to be able to trust. Someone who was family. When she signed up for MySpace to keep in touch with her friends, she did so under an assumed name so that same person (who was known to use MySpace) wouldn't be able to easily locate her. So, she's just committed the same act as the defendant in this case. So technically, she should get 3 years in jail and a fine. Right?

Re:let this be a warning... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903695)

Or, don't use a name at all!

Say what? (4, Insightful)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903281)

a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym.

This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

Re:Say what? (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903365)

No. It was about the charge as written.

If she was guilty of psychological stalking (which she was) she should have been charged with stalking. This is a clear misapplication of the law.

Re:Say what? (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903411)

a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym.

This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

The take home is, victimizing someone is bad. That it happened via the internet means they've had to fudge things up a bit, but I don't think this means flaming someone on a website means the cops will come-a-calling.

In this instance the woman was clearly a nasty piece of work, so I'm glad they found a way to punish her. I would not expect someone posting nastiness here would get into trouble with anyone except the mods.

I think some people make the mistake of assuming that things done on the internet which would result in fines or punishment in the real world are somehow 'freedoms that need defending' on the web. I'm not one of those people.

I don't mind argument, rudeness, flaming, or anything like that, I mean, that I just accept as background noise, but this incident went way beyond anything like of that nature.

Re:Say what? (2, Insightful)

Yahma (1004476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903667)

The take home is, victimizing someone is bad. That it happened via the internet means they've had to fudge things up a bit, but I don't think this means flaming someone on a website means the cops will come-a-calling.

In this instance the woman was clearly a nasty piece of work, so I'm glad they found a way to punish her. I would not expect someone posting nastiness here would get into trouble with anyone except the mods.

I think some people make the mistake of assuming that things done on the internet which would result in fines or punishment in the real world are somehow 'freedoms that need defending' on the web. I'm not one of those people.

I don't mind argument, rudeness, flaming, or anything like that, I mean, that I just accept as background noise, but this incident went way beyond anything like of that nature.

That means if anyone registers on MySpace or Slashdot, for that matter, with false information and flames you. And if you later commit suicide, that person who flamed you could be charged with a crime. The precedent is set, these cases will be much easier to prosecute in the future.

Re:Say what? (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903441)

The issue here is that she was probably charged under the wrong statute. I think any jury could have justly convicted her as an accessory to murder, at least. If you lie to someone and convince them to off themselves by doing so, there's got to be an existing charge that doesn't depend on whether a computer was involved in the process.

-jcr

Re:Say what? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903741)

"I think any jury could have justly convicted her as an accessory to murder, at least. If you lie to someone and convince them to off themselves by doing so, there's got to be an existing charge that doesn't depend on whether a computer was involved in the process."

Actually, you hit upon the crux of the problem here. They TRIED to find laws existing to convict her of, but, there were NONE on the books. No laws about cyberbullying. You can't believe they'd try to stretch a law to fit her 'crime' if they had directly applicable laws on the books do you?

I don't like what she did....but, I hope this gets thrown out on appeal.

This is much like a case years back, with a guy that was either a landlord or neighbor, that put cameras in peoples homes to film them undressing/having sex...etc.

Turns out after he was caught...there were NO laws on the books covering what he did...and they had to let him go.

They later passed laws covering this. This is the same type thing...and she should have been let go.

Re:Say what? (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903605)

It would be interesting to see what would have happened if it was a adult male going after a young girl in the same way.

That said, I understand what people are saying about it setting a dangerous precedent. The ability to send someone to jail because they were causing you distress on a forum is obviously open to abuse.

Re:Say what? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903679)

"This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there."

Funny....when I read what she was convicted of, none of those laws says a thing about psychological stalking and trauma.

So far...those things are not against the law. If you want them to be...pass those laws. Those will be tough to pass tho....without being overly broad, or they will be misused to convict anyone of calling someone a name. But, back to the point...she was not convicted of anything you mentioned, they tried to stretch laws on things unrelated to the psychological stress she did to punish her for being a jerk.

That does set a bad precedent.

The unstable girl killed herself. Do you want laws out there that say if I call you an asshole or some other name (just example, not that I'm calling you one) and you off yourself...I should go to jail because you can't take an insult? Any laws passed like what you seem to want could be interpreted that way.

Re:Say what? (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903713)

This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

No, the stalking/trauma is why people wanted to "do something" about Lori Drew. But look at what she was actually charged with and at the bullshit conviction that is now on the books.

If she had used her real name, she would not have been in violation of the laws she was charged with violating, no matter how much she had stalked or harassed the suiciteen. Do you get it? This jury's decision is all about the pseudonym and MySpace terms, and the consequences to the crazy suiciteen are irrelvant.

The actual harm is irrelevant. From this law's point of view, the only victim was MySpace, due to Lori Drew horrifically misleading them into thinking they were serving pages to a teen boy. FRAUD!!

Of course, if it weren't for the stalking thing, she also won't be charged with anything, because no one would care, just like I won't be charged with anything if I call you a $CURSE_WORD and you get upset. (Unless you kill yourself, in which case CmdrTaco is getting a "who is Cajun Hell" subpoena.

Re:Say what? (2, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903761)

This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

This is sort of an interesting part of the case. I had first thought you were completely wrong on this point. But it turns out, I misled myself.

My initial reaction is that this isn't a murder case. In fact, there was even contention whether the girl's suicide should even be mentioned in the case. The judge eventually allowed it despite the Defense's protests. Defense attorney H. Dean Steward even called the girl's mother's testimony about the girl and her suicide "totally improper in a computer fraud case."

But having said that - stalking was very much part of the case. The Prosecution was going after Drew for violating MySpace's TOS prohibiting users from using fraudulent registration information, using accounts to obtain personal information about juvenile members and using MySpace to "harass, abuse or harm other members".

So in the end, the actual case isn't really about pseudonyms. It is, in fact, about harrassment and following a site's TOS. Although I can certainly understand someone using a pseudonym might be concerned that this case might be abused by another lawyer in another case.

It's far more troubling... (1, Redundant)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903289)

It's far more troubling that she is getting away with murder. But then the so-called Justice system is not and has never really been interested in justice.

Re:It's far more troubling... (4, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903405)

Sorry, but it's not "murder". It was a terrible thing that she did and she should be punished for it, but it was not actually murder.

In any case, we live under the rule of law. And one consequence of that is that sometimes people do terrible things that are not covered by the law. In that case, these people should go free. It's terrible, but it's vastly superior to the anarchy that results when there is no rule of law.

Re:It's far more troubling... (5, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903439)

All that means is that the law is wrong. Goading someone into killing themselves is murder.

I have no idea why you brought up anarchy. I am advocating that we change our Justice system to actually mete out justice. That doesn't sound like anarchy to me.

It is not justice to allow a murderer to go free. Technicalities are not justice.

In your world, pushing someone off a cliff is OK because you didn't kill them. After all, is it your fault they hit the ground?

Re:It's far more troubling... (2, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903499)

I brought up anarchy because it's what punishing this person implies.

It may or may not be reasonable to cover the law such that this offense can be punishable the next time it happens. That's really a separate debate, but I'm not arguing against it here.

What's unreasonable is deciding that this person must be punished even though her action was not against the law. By all means, advocate that the law should be changed. But if you believe in the rule of law at all, this person should be set free!

As for the definition of "murder", you can quibble over the English definition but clearly what she did is not covered by the legal definition, otherwise the prosecutors would have charged her with it.

What if? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903701)

Goading someone into killing themselves is murder.

What if I'm mentally unstable and after reading your post I get so distraught that I kill myself?

You fucking murderer! I hope they put you in the chair for that.

Re:It's far more troubling... (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903765)

All that means is that the law is wrong. Goading someone into killing themselves is murder.

No, it's not. Said person always had a choice to live; a murder victum does not get that choice. You're trivializing murder.

I have no idea why you brought up anarchy. I am advocating that we change our Justice system to actually mete out justice. That doesn't sound like anarchy to me.

Twisting laws to "get the bad guy" is anarchy. The laws are supposed to be specific. If we allow your line of thinking, any law can be twisted to convict anyone of anything. It's also inconsitent, since the same situation might come up and not be tried at all, or be tried by twisting around another law. That sounds pretty choatic to me.

It is not justice to allow a murderer to go free. Technicalities are not justice.

See.. your arguing based on your emotion, not law. You're redefining murder to suit your own ends, and then calling THAT justice.

In your world, pushing someone off a cliff is OK because you didn't kill them. After all, is it your fault they hit the ground?

Yes, because you caused them to fall by pushing them. Name calling is not at all like pushing someone off a cliff. Get a grip.

Re:It's far more troubling... (4, Insightful)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903475)

It was a terrible thing that she did and she should be punished for it,

Would you argue that she should be punished even if the young girl had just shrugged it off and got on with her life?

The punishment should be based on an act, not on somebody's reaction to that act. Either an action 'ABC' is a crime or it is not - that should not depend on someone's reaction to 'ABC'.

Re:It's far more troubling... (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903579)

Really? So if I accidentally shoot someone while hunting, and that person gets hit in the arm and has to have surgery, I should get charged as heavily as if that person got hit in the head and died?

As far as this case goes... it's not murder, certainly. I don't think she should be (and isn't) held accountable for the death of the person. However, if she actually was messing with the girl's mind and thus had power over her and told her to kill herself, basically, and she does it... she actually DOES deserve harsher consequences than if the result was otherwise.

Think of a cult leader that has a mental sway over someone as opposed to a wacko that has no charisma at all. If a wacko is going around saying the world would be better without this person or that person, that's one thing; if it's a cult leader (or a parent, a spouse, etc) that has some mental/psychological leverage, it's a lot different.

Not to say that I believe in some weird mental phenomena and psychic powers... but intent has something to do with it, too. I could jokingly tell someone they should kill themselves, and I could seriously try to get them to do it with just words. There IS a big difference. Which is why people like Kevorkian should not be allowed to do the sick things they want to do, and why doctors should not be allowed to encourage suicide (or, IMO, help it.. unfortunately, Washington (state) thinks otherwise).

Re:It's far more troubling... (5, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903659)

That's an interesting interpretation of the law or morality but I don't think you'll find that it matches the real world even a little bit.

Forget to feed your baby and he cries a lot and shrugs it off: no consequences.

Forget to feed your baby and he dies: you go to prison for a very long time.

Go 25MPH over the speed limit and get caught by a cop: expensive speeding ticket.

Go 25MPH over the speed limit and kill a van full of girl scouts: you go to prison for a very long time.

Plan to kill somebody and screw it up: go to prison for a little while.

Plan to kill somebody and succeed: get the chair.

Need I go on? Outcomes matter.

Re:It's far more troubling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903809)

The punishment should be based on an act, not on somebody's reaction to that act. Either an action 'ABC' is a crime or it is not - that should not depend on someone's reaction to 'ABC'.

I agree. That's why I never jokingly yell 'fire' in an empty theater. I could go to jail for life.

Re:It's far more troubling... (1)

RattFink (93631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903825)

The punishment should be based on an act, not on somebody's reaction to that act. Either an action 'ABC' is a crime or it is not - that should not depend on someone's reaction to 'ABC'.

The law typically takes both into account. To create a crime you typically have to have a Guilty mind (mens rea) and with that do a Guilty act (actus reus).

You callously shooting a gun up in the air resulting in someone's death is treated a lot different then intentionally shooting someone.

What? (0)

newtown1100 (1415771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903295)

Sure, driving someone to edge to kill themselves is wrong, but 3 years?

Couldn't the victim at least tell her parents about what was happening? :facepalm:

This is when I bet the CyberSitter nannystaters will start jumping in going "U CULD ATLEAST MONOTIR HUR INTERNETZ!!!!1111oneoneone!!!!"

Role of SSRI anti-depressants? (4, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903641)

According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] Meier was taking Celexa, Concerta, and Geodon.

Celexa is an SSRI anti-depressant medication. SSRI meds are associated with the following side effects:

Manic Reaction (Mania, e.g., Kleptomania, Pyromania, Dipsomania)
Abnormal Thinking
Hallucinations
Personality Disorder
Amnesia
Agitation
Psychosis
Abnormal Dreams
Emotional Lability (Or Instability)
Alcohol Abuse and/or Craving
Hostility
Paranoid Reactions
Confusion
Delusions
Sleep Disorders
Akathisia (Severe Inner Restlessness)
Discontinuation (Withdrawal) Syndrome

On September 14, 2004 the FDA added a Black Box Warning in regard to antidepressants & suicidality in those under age 18
http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/04/slides/2004-4065s2.htm [fda.gov]

On September 14, 2004 the FDA mandated that pharmacies provide to all parents or guardians for those younger than 18 an Antidepressant Patient Medication Guide. This guide reads (in part) "Call healthcare provider right away if you or your family member has any of the following symptoms: Acting aggressive, being angry, or violent & acting on dangerous impulses." This Antidepressant Patient Medication Guide also states "Never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms."

On December 13, 2006, the Black Box Warning for suicidality was updated to include those under age 25. The Black Box Warning is included in the insert to the drugs and in the Physicians' Desk reference.

Note how Meier was also taking Geodon, which is used for schizophrenia, acute mania, and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder. She was clearly being affected negatively by the anti-depressant Celexa. Instead of taking her off the medication her doctors gave her more medication!

The role that these drugs played in the suicide of this poor girl haven't been investigated. That doesn't excuse the behavior of the women, but does it warrant jail time and a large fine? Shouldn't her parents, doctors and FDA officials, pharma companies also be liable for putting her on these meds?

Re:Role of SSRI anti-depressants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903831)

That doesn't excuse the behavior of the women, but does it warrant jail time and a large fine?

Yes. It was a malicious and stupid thing to do. It led to the death of an innocent. The "I didn't know she was depressed" defense doesn't cut it any more than "I didn't know he couldn't swim" after shoving someone overboard. If you kill someone then you face the music, no matter how sickly the victim was. It's called personal responsibility.

correlation versus causation (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903841)

Note how Meier was also taking Geodon, which is used for schizophrenia, acute mania, and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder

That is stated in the article

She was clearly being affected negatively by the anti-depressant Celexa. Instead of taking her off the medication her doctors gave her more medication!

I could not find anything to support that claim. While indeed the symptoms could have been side-effects of the anti-depressant, it is also possible that those symptoms were present before. The wikipedia article also mentions that she was under the care of a psychiatrist from age 3, so there was probably quite a bit going on that wasn't disclosed in that page.

I agree that the anti-depressants do have negative side-effects for some patients, that has been demonstrated. However, the links you provided don't support your claim of her other psychiatric symptoms being the direct result of those medications.

Somewhat fitting. (5, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903301)

I don't think that putting her away for life is appropriate, let alone the death penalty.

That being said, I also don't like the idea of an adult conspiring to harass an emotionally unstable child (aren't they all).

This is a good decision, so long as it is upheld. 300K fine and a (relatively) short jail term is enough to ruin a life for anyone not upper class, and will likely act as a deterrent to others that think that conspiring to harass someone online is just fun and games.

Now mod me to oblivion.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903349)

True. But where were her parents? Pretty sad the girl lived in a household where she couldn't talk to her folks about what was going on.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903427)

If she had perfect parents, she likely wouldn't be depressed and suicidal.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903629)

Bullshit.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903691)

Depression is a medical condition, not a general sadness about how much your life sucks.

You require medication and dedicated professional counseling to deal with depression. A pep talk from your parents isn't going to cut it.

When someone is depressed on the verge of being suicidal, that person requires very strong and immediate medical intervention.

The only way "perfect parents" would have helped is if they had noticed a problem with the girl and taken her to get help.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (5, Informative)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903521)

True. But where were her parents? Pretty sad the girl lived in a household where she couldn't talk to her folks about what was going on.

I'm usually on the side of parents taking responsibility for the welfare of their children. It bothers me to no end when parents seem to think others should assume that responsibility. However, I'm not so sure this is one of those situations.

From the Wired blog [wired.com] :

Then on October 15, Josh sent Megan a message saying that he didn't want to be friends anymore. The next day, Josh told her he'd heard she wasn't nice to her friends, and that's why he wanted to sever their ties.

Megan became upset and Meier, who had to leave the house to take her other daughter to an orthodontist appointment, told Megan to shut down the computer. Megan didn't do as she was told, however, and got embroiled in an electronic brawl when at least two other people began attacking her online, culminating in the final message from "Josh".

When Meier came home she found Megan still online and in tears. When she appealed to her mother for support, Meier chastised her for being on the computer when she'd been instructed to shut it down, and suggested that Megan had brought some of the attacks on herself by continuing to communicate with her attackers.

Megan, in mental anguish at this point, told her mother, "You're supposed to be my mom. You're supposed to be on my side."

Thirty minutes later, Megan hanged herself, Meier testified.

I'm sure the mother wishes she could have had that moment back; handled it differently. However, this certainly doesn't seem like a case of an inattentive parent who didn't communicate with their children.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (2, Insightful)

MrCawfee (13910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903639)

umm.. were you a teenager?

a) "ooh it's their parents fault for not being there": the "previously treated for depression" kinda blows that away..

b) depressed people aren't usually trying to get better, despair sets in it doesn't matter anymore.

Making snap judgments and automatically blaming the girls parents is bullshit.

and to the next comment in this thread:
  "if she had perfect parents, she likely wouldn't be depressed and suicidal."

that is bullshit as well, the "where were the parents" argument doesn't apply to everything.

If a person wants to end their life, no one can stop them. The girls parents TRIED to solve it by treating her, so the blame the parents attitude is bullshit.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903407)

300K fine and a (relatively) short jail term is enough to ruin a life for anyone not upper class

Did you intend to imply that the rich should be immune from the law and/or the consequnces of breaking it?

Re:Somewhat fitting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903431)

As as rich person I hope that he did.

Baby steps ...

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

windex82 (696915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903559)

I didn't read it at all as they SHOULD be immune.

I think s/he was implying that they already are immune or, at the very least, once they pay up the 300k and finish up their sentence they'll still be rich and can co back to sitting out in the sun with the extra cash they have saved up by being in jail and unable to spend it.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903567)

Did you intend to imply that the rich should be immune from the law and/or the consequnces of breaking it?

I'm confused as to how you could have gotten that from his post without LOOKING for ways of misinterpreting it. He was just specifying that if you have a billion dollars, a fine of 300,000 dollars isn't going to slow you down, a simple observation of math without any implication of "and that's how it should be." At worst it was a pointless tangent.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903621)

Did you intend to imply that the rich should be immune from the law and/or the consequnces of breaking it?

That's not what anyone wants, but it's effectively what we end up with.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903633)

No. Of course not.

The fine in a case like this should be enough to hurt the person accused of the crime. If the person was a millionaire, I would hope that the fine would be an order of magnitude (or more) higher.

I also believe that speeding tickets should be indexed to how much the net worth of the individual is.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903803)

300K fine and a (relatively) short jail term is enough to ruin a life for anyone not upper class

Did you intend to imply that the rich should be immune from the law and/or the consequnces of breaking it?

I he/she meant not that "the rich should be immune from the law..." but that they frequently are because they can just pay the fines.

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903461)

Now mod me to oblivion.

Go out and buy Oblivion like everyone else, you cheapskate, its only ten english pounds!!!111one

Re:Somewhat fitting. (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903627)

Just to point out, the legal punishments are among the lesser consequences of her actions. The community went nuts over this. She was getting death threats on the hour, I believe her husband lost his job, and everyone who knew her now likely thinks she is scum. Her home address is out on the web. I'd be suprised if no one threw rocks through her windows and keyed her car.

I don't know what punishment fits this crime, and it was of course a crime, but she -didn't- kill the girl, she did that herself. I don't think this crime justifies how she's been treated. At the very least, the 300k and jail time is not the full punishment.

I'm not troubled... (4, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903331)

"She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines - a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."

I'm not actually troubled much by this at all. This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

That's actually a good precedent.

Can it be warped? Sure, but so can everything else. I personally feel that three misdemeanor convictions are a PERFECT fit for what happened, and would like to see similar charges brought against future 'cyber bullies' going forward with similar results. The penalties sound a bit harsh, but I'm sure they will be whittled to 90 days in a white-collar work camp, just as they were for the 'Spam King'.

Re:I'm not troubled... (4, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903457)

Indeed, there's going to be a lot of outrage that she wasn't convicted of more serious offences, but there's a limited scope to what can be done to her.

If you make it too severe, then in similar cases where the defendant is totally innocent, you're going to have problems.

This is much like the attempt to reclassify downloading music and movies as a felony. Is it against the law? Yes. Is it a crime equal to grand theft auto or murder? No.

What this woman did was cowardly, stupid, abhorrent and vindictive, and almost certainly led the young girl to kill herself due to being bullied and psychologically manipulated by a grown (physically) but immature (mentally) woman who should really know better.

There is possibly a case for manslaughter, but in that case, you'd likely have to prove that the nasty cunt set out to kill Megan, instead of just set out to bully her, and you run the risk of her being acquitted.

Perhaps one day she'll feel guilty for killing a child, but the law and justice system just isn't set up to put her away for that, at least not without endangering the system itself.

Re:I'm not troubled... (2, Insightful)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903511)

Mod parent and GP up!! Parent has my exact opinion. Any woman willing to go to this length for a confrontation with a 13 year old girl and then decides to engage in cyberbullying deserves some prison time.

Re:I'm not troubled... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903849)

There is possibly a case for manslaughter, but in that case, you'd likely have to prove that the nasty cunt set out to kill Megan, instead of just set out to bully her, and you run the risk of her being acquitted.

I don't see how, I think we can all agree that what she did was planned and over a long period of time. That'd make it murder, not voluntary manslaughter which is typically spur of the moment killings and involuntary manslaughter is only by negligence or recklessness. Here in Norway we have a fourth kind which would probably be "Assault with lethal outcome" where the nature of the assault doesn't indicate an intent to kill (falls on sharp edge, heart condition etc.) but it's a physical crime so doesn't apply either. It doesn't really go to the level of criminal threats, libel or stalking either so I can't really find a good law to apply. But nasty she is.

Re:I'm not troubled... (4, Insightful)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903483)

This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

What if it were a real teenaged boy who used his real name and information and he harassed the girl and drove her to suicide? To me, the falsification of information seems irrelevant.

Re:I'm not troubled... (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903525)

I'm not actually troubled much by this at all. This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

You sound like a damned cry baby.. "wahhh she called me ugly"

Re:I'm not troubled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903541)

That'll be whittled down to 2 weeks with an ankle bracelet, at home, which will be taken off after 2 days because it's causing her image issues and undue stress.

She's a woman, remember?

Re:I'm not troubled... (4, Insightful)

IronChef (164482) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903577)

I'm not actually troubled much by this at all. This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

Thank goodness it's the government who will decide what a "bad end" means!

Re:I'm not troubled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903593)

I couldn't agree more. Isn't it currently illegal to mail harassing remarks using someone else identity, address and phone number? So why should the internet be treated as an exempt form of communication? It shouldn't.

Re:I'm not troubled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903673)

I think since this is in CA that it could qualify any further convictions under the 3-strikes legislation so she could get an even worse conviction should she commit another offense.

So much for my hobby (2, Funny)

courtjester801 (1415457) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903341)

I used to enjoy logging in as someone else; no more trolling the retirement chat rooms as a 74 year old chinese woman. :(

What Pisses Me Off... (4, Interesting)

TheNecromancer (179644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903351)

is that Ashley Grills, who wrote the actual message about the world being better off without Megan Meier, had immunity protection from being prosecuted, for testifying against Lori Drew! This woman is just as evil as Lori Drew, and should be punished as well!

Re:What Pisses Me Off... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903489)

No only did Lori Drew not tell Megan the world would be better without her...Megan's mother admitted that she ignored Megan just before she went to her room and killed herself. Tina admitted that Megan wanted to talk but she sent her to her room. Where she killed herself. Tina is more responsible for her daughters death than anyone. This is one of those cases where a parent wants to feel better by pointing their finger at someone else.

Re:What Pisses Me Off... (1)

ppl3strange (1198247) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903585)

I'm surprised this hasn't been covered more. I saw two interviews with Tina where she talked about ignoring her daughter and sending her to her room.

Re:What Pisses Me Off... (1)

Watersharer (209011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903755)

Unfortunately, too many cases require immunity from prosecution in order to make even one stick.

While I would agree wholeheartedly that Megan Meier should also be punished to the fullest extent of the law, without her testimony it is possible that both women would have walked away scott-free from this atrocious act.

Ideally, I would like to see both women in prison, for a lot longer than 3 years. As a parent, I was horrified at this entire story...how another parent could do this just blows my mind.

We make people take tests to drive, to graduate schools, to get stupid worthless IT certificates...

conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903357)

was it conspiracy to harass? Is that a crime? I'd imagine if it was, she was surely guilty of that. The jurors obviously wanted to hit her with something, why not that?

Precedent (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903393)

Owning a crowbar is not a crime. Using it to bash in the skull of your neighbor is a major felony. Likewise, it isn't illegal to have a pseudonym.

Re:Precedent (5, Funny)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903491)

Owning a crowbar is not a crime. Using it to bash in the skull of your neighbor is a major felony. Likewise, it isn't illegal to have a pseudonym.

But using your pseudonym to bash in the skull of your neighbor is a major no no.

Re:Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903599)

Owning a DVD copier is not a crime. Using it to copy DVD's and... oh wait.

Don't you know? The doing stuff on the internet makes it different somehow.

Re:Precedent (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903649)

Owning a crowbar is not a crime. Using it to bash in the skull of your neighbor is a major felony.

It depends, did that neighbor just take my Last Beamish?

Troubling indeed (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903423)

a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym.

And then used it to successfully encourage someone to kill themselves. So much for freeing up some low digit slashdot IDs for recycling. Cowboyneal, I take back all those things I said about you, DON'T DO IT MAN!

Re:Troubling indeed (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903443)

I was about to post exactly this, except for the cowboy neal shit.

I don't know what a cowboy neal is nor do I give a shit. I hate seeing the name everywhere. What, is he like the janitor?

(Go ahead and "correct" or "inform" me, people with broken sarcasm meters.)

So the Scientologists can get rid of 4chan now? (2, Insightful)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903467)

By launching criminal charges against anyone who posts on 4chan's /b/ board for using the pseudonym "Anonymous" on their posts, and sending us all to jail?

Well, look on the bright side (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903485)

I predict [codemonkeyramblings.com] that it'll be a useful tool for stopping severe cyber bullying. While I do find the ramifications troubling in some respects, the ruling here seems to be specifically on the grounds that her goal for violating the ToS was to commit a crime. The big problem with this ruling is that there are a lot of crimes that can be committed when we don't mean them to be, such as copyright infringement (fair use ain't always obvious).

This case probably has a 50/50 chance of being overturned in appeals, so I wouldn't worry about it since this is a stretch of the Computer Fraud Act and appeals courts tend to be more conservative in their tolerance of twisted prosecutorial language.

Totally nuts (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903493)

Im almost speechless about this. Bullying? Did this girl force anyone to stare at the screen?

This is just insane. Its almost as bad as calling something a 'hate crime' and using the term to squelch freespeech.

A lot of interesting input... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903503)

...from tripfags.

I philosophically disapprove (2, Interesting)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903535)

While Megan's death is tragic, I cannot approve of this abuse of the justice system being twisted just to find something, anything, to nail Lori Drew with. It sets dangerous precedents in an already fucked-up-beyond-repair system.

Certainly Drew deserved punishment, but if everybody using the internet was punished for causing emotional distress over the internet, we'd all be in jail. Keep in mind that that is all she did. She didn't go kill the girl with her bare hands.

I think a public beating would be more appropriate and cheaper to society as a whole. Give the bitch a few emotional and physical scars of her own to remind her that shit like this will not be tolerated. But computer crimes? Seriously, what the fuck?

Re:I philosophically disapprove (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903613)

I agree. Megan's parents might have had enough cause to file a wrongful death civil suit, but this criminal verdict is sheer lunacy. I hope Ms. Drew appeals the verdict.

The biggest WTF (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903565)

...to me is that it seems the only thing she was really convicted of was "accessing a computer without authorization". Does that mean that if we talked over IRC or some P2P chat or sent an e-mail or whatever where you didn't explicitly agree to a ToS regarding the service, that this would be completely legal? Because if that's the case, it's an absurd penalty for breaking a ToS and pretty wierd that there's no other law to deal with somebody harassing a kid to death. Or maybe I'm completely misreading this?

More general laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903653)

Why isn't there simply a law which states that bullying/talking someone into killing themselves is illegal?
No computer or internet specific laws seem necessary.

Is it me, or do many laws seem to tightly bound to a specific technology..

Hard Cases Make Bad Laws/Judgments/Convictions (1)

resistant (221968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903703)

If this stands, this sets a terrible precedent. Suppose some ambitious prosecutor has decided that you must have committed a Federal crime by using a pseudonym to have a nasty war of words with someone on a chat forum on a politically touchy subject, in violation of the Terms of Service? He can use this terrible precedent to railroad you on charges of "unauthorised access", claiming it has nothing to do with, say, opposing abortion on demand, or supporting it, or whatever. If you don't think this can happen, well, it *has* happened, over and over, with other laws meant for originally limited purposes. The anti-Mafia RICO laws come to mind. There is indeed a slippery slope here, and a steep one at that.

Prosecuting what can only be called a venomous viper isn't worth it for what it'll cost all of us.

You might also find it mildly interesting to check out this slightly newer thread [volokh.com] and this slightly older thread [volokh.com] at The Volokh Conspiracy [volokh.com] , both begun by Mr. Orin Kerr, who is one of the attorneys for Ms. Lori Drew.

"Anonymous Coward" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903727)

...so sue me!

Bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903729)

Aliases are liabilities? This could totally bankrupt some people [slashdot.org] .

14x300,000 = $4,200,000

twitter will have to open a bank and ask for a bailout...

I want to be guilty too. (0)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903797)

My real name is not B5_geek. I think some/one of you should go kill (your)/(them)selves.

Hey you! Yeah you, the one behind the screen typing at a keyboard. You should go hang yourself. I am a sexy women who thinks you are pitiful.

Grr

You are ugly and dumb!

ok, I think that covers it. Send me to jail.

misdemeanor manslaughter (2, Interesting)

voss (52565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25903805)

"In a majority of jurisdictions, however, the offense is committed when death occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a misdemeanor."

Works for me

Personally I would have thought the adult womans malicious acts of emotional abuse on a child would have constituted reckless endangerment then they could have gone for felony murder.

In memorium of Megan Meier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25903827)

And a protest against the State's conviction of Lori Drew, I propose the following usenet group list:

alt.meganmeier.dead.dead.dead

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...