Mom Pleads Not Guilty To MySpace Harassment Charges - InformationWeek

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6/17/2008
02:29 PM
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Mom Pleads Not Guilty To MySpace Harassment Charges

Lori Drew is under federal indictment for using the social networking site illegally to bully suicide victim Megan Meier.

A Missouri mother accused of harassing a 13-year-old girl through MySpace has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to cause emotional distress and illegal use of computers in a case brought after the teen killed herself.

Prosecutors said Lori Drew, 49, violated MySpace's terms of use and illegally created an account pretending she was a 16-year-old boy to trick the girl, Megan Meier, into believing that there was a boy who had a crush on her. She later taunted Meier, who killed herself immediately after the taunting in October 2006, court documents state.

Drew pleaded not guilty Monday. She posted $20,000 bail and is scheduled for trial later this month.

The Los Angeles indictment marks the first time that a social networking site user has faced federal charges related to accessing protected computers for harassment.

Prosecutors said Drew posed as a fictitious boy, Josh Evans, and feigned romantic interest in Meier before turning on her and saying "the world would be a better place" without the 13-year-old girl.

Meier hanged herself. She died the next day.

MySpace prohibits people from using fraudulent registration information; using accounts to obtain personal information about juvenile members; using the MySpace communication services to harass, abuse, or harm other members; and promoting false or misleading information.

If convicted, Drew faces up to five years imprisonment for the conspiracy count and up to five years for each of three counts charging that she accessed protected computers without authorization, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California. She has also been the victim of cyberbullying since news of her alleged actions became public.

The case is in California because that's where MySpace's servers are located. Prosecutors consider the social networking site a victim in the case.

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