A federal judge on Thursday tentatively overturned convictions against a mother accused of using MySpace to bully a 13-year-old girl who went on to hang herself to death. US District Judge George Wu tentatively acquitted Lori Drew, 50, of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization. To the dismay of …
Good for users, maybe, bad for justice
What she did is morally offensive, to say the least, and should be punished for it. Unfortunate that the criminal justice system isn't able to do anything.
Computers are just tools
The method by which this woman tricked the girl was irrelevant to my way of thinking about the case. What would the legal situation have been if she had used the old fashioned 'penfriends' style of wtitten communication, sending false photographs, fake loving letters etc. You can say what you like to another adult (as long as it doesn't involve fraud/libel) but if you're communicating with a child then isn't there a 'duty of care'?
(BTW, my real name is not Frank Ly)
Offence to send nasty letters?
Not sure about the US, but isn't sending poison pen-letters an offence in the UK?
Another case of an idiot with double digit IQ doing something morally dubious which had very serious consequences. Now having wrecked a family, she gets to walk away with a clean slate as though nothing happened, another fine example of humanity at work. Just wait, "I am a good law abiding Christian soul who has seen the errors of my ways. I apologize for the damage I have done, I can never make amends, but hope for forgiveness.". Words are cheap, so it appears are young lives....
Relevancy of the medium?
It surely shouldn't matter whether this was done via computer, letter or phonecall: Mentally abusing someone in this manner to the point where you drive them to suicide, and with intent, based on the comments made to the girl by the defendant, should be illegal. Even if you aren't holding a knife to their throat, purposely abusing someone to this kind of level simply isn't right.
Isn't grooming an offence in the US?
It's a pretty good description of what she did, even if her motives weren't sexual.
Anyway, the idea that letting her get away with it is "good for net users" is bullshit.
13 year-old Megan Meier was a net user and she's dead. It wasn't very good for her, was it?
If you have nothing to hide...
You have nothing to fear? Why should/shouldn't it be a crime to falsify your ID?
The consequences matter and maybe they are the determinent of whether the action was 'Just' or not? Put 'legality' aside here for one moment. There are many steps to the breaking of the law but not all of them illeagal in themselves.
Maybe the woman should have been charged for a different crime.
Good to see that the illiterate moral brigade are out.
Look, if you tossers would bother utilizing the wonderful gifts of literacy and comprehension that your grammar-school gave to you - thanklessly I might add - on a silver platter you'd realize that the problem here was, all fucking along, the law under which she was being tried and the fact that it is completely fucking irrelevant to the case. As was pointed out in the article, numerous attorneys passed on the case as it wasn't winnable - let alone triable - with the charges the prosecutors brought.
This case was dangerous. I'm sorry you lot (all three of you who have posted as of this writing) can't understand that and that your thirst for blood clouds any logical thinking abilities you might possess. Had the prosecutors won this case we would have seen one of the greatest curtailing of personal freedoms during Bush's tenure not of his own hand. Providing false information would have been made illegal, as would writing any sort of nastygram via e-mail or on any website with a social aspect to it. I feel a tremor in the force... ten thousand lawsuits suddenly filed against Something Awful... one trillion against Youtube's entire user base.
Justice won't prevail here. There are too many 'criminals' involved in this case for it to. Megan's mom was just as guilty as Drew, if not more so, for being hostile to her own daughter. The girl, on the other hand, isn't quite the innocent victim she's been made out to be. Not every adult is scum, not every child an angel. Stop watching Law & Order and experience real life: those grey areas television don't tell you about are killer.
... the judge has made the correct ruling on the case. The charges bought against the woman were inappropriate, I'm guessing the US doesn't have any particular legislation regarding either online harressment/cyberbullying (I'd imagine it requires the victim to press charges) or driving someone to suicide which is why prosecuters tried to "make things right" by bringing charges under other sections of the law.
All in all, a sad affair but you can't really fault the judge for enforcing the letter of the law rather than making the emotionally charged "right" decision.
I would expect (not condone you understand) it if was two kids doing this but a fucking ADULT. I admit the whole two wrongs dont make a right philosophy but i really do hope she gets whats coming to her.
And yes, the tool is irreleveant, she could have been sending malicious texts/MMS`s etc, doesnt mean we should ban phones.
Surely coercion to commit suicide is a crime...
First three posters
Are all wrong.
"What she did is morally offensive, to say the least, and should be punished for it. Unfortunate that the criminal justice system isn't able to do anything."
Many people are morally offensive however being morally offensive isn't a _criminal_offense. She hasn't commited a CRIME.
"The method by which this woman tricked the girl was irrelevant to my way of thinking about the case."
So under _your_ way of thinking, you are now guilty of a computer missuse crime and as such should hand yourself over to the police as soon as possible for your 42day solo vacation.
@AC at 05:42 GMT
No where in the reports does it state that the mother in question did anything to cause the girls death. ANOTHER person engaged in the hoax send the message that triggered the death. So because this one person was legally an adult she got prosecuted and 1)found guilty in a way that streached the scope of the US laws beyond recognition and 2)received a punishment which was out of proportion to her involvement in the hoax (it was not a _crime_)
What happen to this woman is known as being thrown to the wolves. While the local federal prosecuters decided not to prosecute, others, probably with a political agenda which would benefti quite nicely from jailing this woman, decided that they would. Probably declaring this to be for the good of the country.
Meanwhile in all of this where are the parents of the dead girl. Has anyone asked how it is that a school aged girl can get into such a mental state that she kills herself, without her parents noticing anything? How about her teachers, don't they have a duty of care as well? Didn't they notice her isolation and the activities of they group that were persecuting her?
Overall the Mother who setup the false mybookfacespace account broke their terms and conditions. If mybookfacespace wants to sue her for it they seem to have a fairly open & shut case. That though is a civil case in a civil court.
The others who _should_ have been watching over the bullied girl, are probably being more vorocious in their attacks to cover up their own short commings.
OK said my bit, let the flames commence.
Surely if this was your daughter
You wouldn't wait for the courts to sort it out, you'd go for some double-barrelled justice of your own.
The right decision
What this woman did was morally repugnant. (Ab)using the law relating to TOC violations to 'get her' would not have been a good precedent to set, however.
P.S. My given name is not really "Toastan". For that matter, my family name might not be "Buttar", either.
Beer, cos it's a hot and sticky Friday.
Re: Offence to send nasty letters?
"Another case of an idiot with double digit IQ doing something morally dubious which had very serious consequences."
I find it offensive that you imply that people with low IQs are more likely to do bad things.
@Kanhef @Richard Hodgeson READ Carefully guys
"Eventually, one of the other participants in the hoax caused Josh to send a message that said the world would be better without her."
The important part here is that "one of the other participants" sent the message. It's also the only reference to any bad messages sent to the neighbours girl.
The woman was only using the account to see if her own daughter was being bullied.
Perhaps the neighbours girl was mentally unbalanced? If someone you had never met said that the world would be "better off without you" would that prompt you to hang yourself? My guess is that it wouldn't...
Laws are useless anyway
So she, or more accurately the scumbag who actually wrote the message that sent the poor girl over the edge, won't get a fine, or do pokey, or whatever. Big friggin' deal.
Whatever happened it would never bring that girl back. It's a tragedy that can't be undone, whatever the sentence - or lack of :'-(
Can I propose a new icon?: Something along the lines of "It's a sick world we live in".
With any luck...
...someone will mount the pavement in their RV and mow the evil cow down - well if she can do it why can't I?
No laws against it?
Erm, yes there are. Good old-fashioned harassment laws. Send poison-pen letters, make nasty phone-calls or whatever, and you'll quickly find there are laws against it. There's absolutely no reason for those laws not to apply to harassment via email/MySpace/Facebook/Twitter/Web2.0-badgers'-paws-system. Had the prosecution gone for this instead of trying to stretch for the use-of-internet thing, they'd be home and dry.
Colour me confused
Ok, so this 50yr old woman set herself up on Myspace as a young boy (ish) - that counts as weird and sad in my book, but crucially, not illegal.
There is nothing in that article that says that this chick did anything other than befriend the girl in an attempt to find out if the girl was being mean about her daughter. Again, a little bit weird and sad, but also again not illegal.
The article DOES state that this 50yr old weird person DID NOT send the offensive message that seems to have triggered the 13yr old to hang herself. So if the Feds want to prosecute someone (which they seem to have a yen for) why not target the cretin who actually said "off yourself" to the kid?
The only crime I can see is one off questionable behaviour and gratuitous "saddo", so why are the first 4 posts on here baying for her blood?
Its one of those hard decisions , where you know the verdict was sensible as it would otherwise be abused but you hate that this shit gets off.
I know its a stretch , but I should think that causing an young child so much mental anguish that she commits suicide should be classed as child abuse, I wish there was a register for that sort of abuse not only sexual offences , that this person would have to deal with being on for the rest of her life ...
Let make this clear from the start: this b*tch ought to go to prison. But not by abusing a law that was meant to punish people who break into other peoples computers or email accounts.
It would be interesting to see what happens when some obscure website's TOS were treated as the law.
BTW, by reading this post, you agree to not close this browser window for 30 minutes. Violation of these terms can result in a fine of US$ 300 000 and a jail sentence of 10 years. I reserve the right to modify these terms without any notice at all at any time.
The Law is an Ass
She is no doubt scum. but if she has broken no law then its the law at fault!
I see this overturning of her tentative conviction as correct althought she is still scum and deserves to rot.
this is where vigilanties have the edge....
An RV would be a Revenge Vehicle then ?
bullys are scum
"The article DOES state that this 50yr old weird person DID NOT send the offensive message that seems to have triggered the 13yr old to hang herself."
so she says it was not her, however it was done from her account.
So yes either the mystery "other person" or this nasty old bag should be taken to court and tried under the correct harassment laws.......failing that, the police involved should let the poor lasses parents have some time alone with this twisted old freak in a small windowless room, down in the basement.
IT angle, because it should never really have been about that.
The ones baying for blood are probably parents, I know what I'd do, and it would not involve a court.
"It basically leaves it up to a web site owner to determine what is a crime"
No, that would still be up to a judge... I think that point is lost in many of the comments above; not every verdict will be used, effectively, as precedent in future cases. I'm not arguing against the outcome here, but not every bad verdict results in the breakdown of the entire legal system.
I assume there can still be a civil suit though. Would not be the first time justice, to at least some extent, was served via civil court.
@AC 06:36 and AC 07:50
@AC 06:36 I was one of the first three commenters so I assume you're referring to me as well. I've no idea what triggered your flaming first paragraph. I did read the article, I have read previous articles on this case and I do realise that the prosecution were wrong to bring 'computer misuse' charges. I was asking what the situation (and possible legal avenues) would have been if it wasn't a computer that was used.
"the law under which she was being tried and the fact that it is completely fucking irrelevant to the case."
Didn't I say that? .."The method by which this woman tricked the girl was irrelevant to my way of thinking about the case." Oh yes, I did.
@AC 07:50 "..So under _your_ way of thinking, you are now guilty of a computer missuse crime "
No, I argued the opposite. The use of a computer (for written communication) is irrelevant to what that woman did to the girl. I gave the example of old fashioned letter writing as something that would probably have had the same effect on the girl. I asked about other laws that could be applied to this sad situation.
I get the impression that many people here have some kind of 'interpretation filter' operating when they read comments.
"why are the first 4 posts on here baying for her blood?"
Are you reading the same comments section as me, or are you related to her?
Nobody is baying for blood. They are simply saying that there should be an applicable law in a case such as this.
@JayB re. Colour me confused
"..so why are the first 4 posts on here baying for her blood?"
I'm one of the first four posts on here and I'm not baying for her blood. I was asking a question about legal matters. You can colour me confused now that I've read the responses to my comment.
I had a big fat lady friend who got sucked-in by some 'Nigerian' chap from 'Manchester' on a dating site she subscribes to. Despite all the warning signs she continued to pursue it in the hope of a jump.
After a year (in which she was involved (through him) with the police), she finally questioned him about his credentials. All she got was a tirade of abuse. The abuse continued for months. His account was barred, so he joined-up with another account and continued the abuse.
In the end she left the site because she couldn't take it anymore. She didn't kill herself (she came close), but she did cry alot. And ate much more ice cream and pies.
The world is full of shitheads. If the lady in the story/the mystery sender (the Hooded Claw?) gets a kick from driving a teenie-bopper to hang themselves then that is their fetish. As the late Wacko once sang "It doesn't matter if your black or white". Anyone can be a wanker. With or without a computer.
Beer. Cause it's lunchtime.
Not good news for net users
Drew should be convicted, period.
Her acquital is not good news for internet users.
I am an internet user and I do not feel secure.., when people that pushed a young girl to kill herself walk away free.
This is incredible.
I was victim of internet bullying myself.
Bullying can hurt and leave deep scars .
People who torture others throught the internet should be held accountable one way or another.
It is not fair they walk away free.
"I find it offensive that you imply that people with low IQs are more likely to do bad things."
I agree with you, but it's certainly possible they might be more likely to do *stupid* things, or at least, do things without carefully considering all the possible consequences. What bearing that has on culpability we'll have to leave to the moral philosophers to decide...
Good old lynch mob
It is very funny the number of people crying out for good old "12 gauge" justice.
I suppose you did read the article? I suppose you missed the bit where it was the bad gossip about this woman's daughter that started all this in the first place.
Perhaps if she had read the comments here she would have been straight out polishing her pitchfork rather than trying a a bit of intelligence gathering first.
It would have definitely saved some confusion here.
May I humbly recommend that you research the background to this story. El Reg has already provided the links so it is not that fucking difficult.
It is clear your statement :"I suppose you missed the bit where it was the bad gossip about this woman's daughter that started all this in the first place." is a little, well, disingenuous, what started it wads a falling out between 2 teenage girls at which point the mother of one invented the account in order to try to find out whether any bad gossip was taking place - certainly not because of it.
Some quotes from the previous articles though, because it seems appropriate:
"According to TV news, Drew had set-up the "Josh Evans" account after her own daughter had a falling out with Megan Meier."
"After a confrontation between Meier's parents and Lori Drew, a police report showed Drew admitted she "instigated and monitored" the fake MySpace profile so she could see what Megan Meier might be saying to others about her former friend."
"Drew posed as a 16-year-old boy on the social networking site and drew 13-year-old Megan Meier into a romantic relationship"
"The final straw came in a message from the Evans account that said, "The world would be a better place without you." Meier hanged herself in her bedroom that same day."
"Posing as Josh early on in the online courtship, the faux boyfriend told Meier she was "sexi" and invited her to touch the "snake." Just hours after Meier killed herself, Drew and the co-conspirators deleted the fraudulent account and Drew instructed a juvenile who was aware of the scheme to "keep her mouth shut.""
So, it is possible no laws have been broken - although I would imagine making the Sexi and "touch the snake" comments to a 13 year old girl are arguably grooming - it is still quite clear that this was not innocent antics of a concerned mother. In this case I would certainly argue 12 gauge justice as wholly appropriate. It might not be right, but I wouldn't blame anyone..........
"I agree with you, but it's certainly possible they might be more likely to do *stupid* things, or at least, do things without carefully considering all the possible consequences."
I think you probably mean impetuous or rash rather than stupid... no idea if there's a positive correlation between stupidity and rashness but I'd be surprised if there was.
On the side of the judge
What that woman did was wrong, but repeat after me:
"LAWS SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR OTHER PURPOSES THAN WHAT THEY WERE CREATED FOR"
I.e. if you cannot find a law that makes it illegal, don't twist the rules of logic to make it so.
BTW, my name is not ratfox.
Let's see ...
If this happened in the UK, and a 50 year old man pretended to be a teenage girl in order to develop a relationship with a teenage boy - indeed, if he set myself up as that kid's online 'girlfriend' - do we think the British constabulary would find nothing to charge him with?
How about 'grooming' for a start?
Amazing that parts of the USA are so much more liberal than the UK
re: Good to see that the illiterate moral brigade are out
ahh but this is different problem. This is a child involved. We do not hold children responsible for their actions but we do hold adults responsible (for their actions).
People have already commented this is more or less a moral issue. I cannot see the law really making sense of this. As then any loon could claim my religion "told me to do it" (or any "right" and adults could get away with anything).
The law assumes that if you are an adult you are responsible for your actions. In this case an adult essentially created an atmosphere of fear in a teens mind. This is not a simple case, in my opinion.
Maybe there should be a law to cover this (reasonably new) point. The law is almost always behind technology. Yes she will go free but the entire world should have nothing to do with her again. The major issue with law is that the first go around will be poorly written and it will have to be over ruled a few times before congress gets it right.
The BASIC FACT is that... This IS a GOOD thing.
First, what she did was reprehensible, AND "criminal". She COULD have been prosecuted a dozen different ways (and, in my opinion, she still SHOULD be).
HOWEVER, this entire case was a SHAM, PERIOD. It was being USED to promote an unbelievably dangerous and fundamental, DIRECT, INTENTIONAL-ATTACK on the very CONCEPT of "the rule of law", and "due process" (namely; by advancing the agenda of making "corporate" WHIMS ("TOSes", "EULAs", etc) the same thing as "LAW". Basically, if this was allowed to stand... ANYONE, could effectively be "CRIMINALLY prosecuted", merely, for (in any way imaginable) "violating" any businesses, ARBITRARY, "end user agreement". Think of the, nearly, absolute POWER this would give corporations (and, politicians)... so much for "checks and balances".
THAT, is why this prosecution was so... BAD, and why overturning it was so... IMPORTANT.
If you want to vent your anger, then vent it upon those that were actually responsible... and, especially, those that attempted to USE this case as an attempt to end-around the fundamental-concepts of legal-governance (...as opposed to entirely-arbitrary, state-sanctioned, and abetted, "legal prosecution" by "private", and political, interests).
She will have suffered!
This pathetic excuse for a mother will no doubt be ashamed of what she has done here. She will also carry it wherever she goes & hopefully people will remind her at every turn of what a monster she was being involved in the destruction of a little girl's psyche. It's better she is out of gaol where she can be seen & punished on a daily basis. In prison she's just another poor, lost soul but in society she faces her behaviour on a daily basis & everyone around her knows what she did.
the law is an ass
Yes I agree she didn't break any laws and the legal system stepped in to prevent a retarded precedent from being set. This woman is one of the most hated people on the internet but as others have said their is no law against being a douche bag. As for the troll defending her actions as others have said on the internet she is just another fat nasty suburb sociopath gossiping cheerleading mom and their are many more out there sadly. Communities do have a sense of justice that is often different than the legal system (which can be both good or bad) and they way I understand it even without jail time this woman's irresponsible actions have cost her her business as well as pretty much shattered her familys well being. Maybe in her head she wanted to "protect" and did this for her daughter but the fact is I bet that girls life is far worse for having a mother with dog shit for brains. Sad story all around.
From someone who lives within 20 miles of the incident
Everyone calling for 12-gauge justice should be arrested and charged with inciting a mob. You haven't followed the facts on this case, you don't know what was going on, and your knee jerk reactions are sickening. If anyone did take violent revenge against this women, it would be premeditated murder - a far worse crime than anything Drew ever did. Personally, I'd support life without parole as a minimum, and wouldn't be adverse to the death penalty.
*deep breath* Now that that has been said, a few facts for the bloodthirsty among you. Local prosecutors were under tremendous pressure to bring charges against Lori Drew. They did not because SHE COMMITTED NO CRIME. Again, if you don't get it, despite the moral repugnance of the situation, at the time in question there was not a single charge that would hold up in court. This of course prompted some rather quick legislation changing that situation, but it was too late for the case against Drew. Besides, even the legislation that was passed would have more appropriately targeted the other people using the "Josh Evans" account, who actually posted the abusive messages.
However, don't think that Drew got away scott free. Her home was barricaded by a mob, her once thriving business was almost instantly ruined, and she was eventually forced to flee her home town in fear for her life - from bastards like the "12 gauge justice" league here. She ended up estranged from her husband at one point (I don't know if that was ever resolved), and then drug 2,000 miles away from her home to be prosecuted by a kangaroo court in California, which convicted her on charges so non-nonsensical that they could have come straight from the court of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland - meanwhile setting a precedent that should have had any U.S. net user with an IQ above room temperature trembling.
The fact is, this women has had her life destroyed, all due to a combination of her own sleazy misjudgment, the horrible actions of several other people, and the tragedy of a mentally disturbed child who was not receiving the care she needed. I'm no fan of Lori Drew - her approach and actions from the beginning of this farce were misguided at best, and sleazy at worst. But there is no evidence anywhere that she intended to harm Megan Meier, and the way she has been all but lynched is nothing short of disgusting.
Good for users, Good for justice
No justice comes from setting a precedent that criminalises a wide range of people.
If you think she's guilty of harrassment, then charge her with that. If not, don't. The fact that it was "on the Internet" is irrelevant.
So what if you were within 20 miles. Unless you were in the room watching it happen, then you're in the same ignorant boat with the rest of us, relying on print and internet news. She did participate in this and I feel no sympathy that her life has been ruined. Small price to pay for screwing with a kid/young adult.
As to the 12 gauge comments... I myself would prefer leaving a permanent limp. It's much more of a reminder to people to stop screwing with people because you're able to. People don't really learn much if they're dead. Personal belief of mine. And yes, I am a jerk because I don't really care about some dumb woman that doesn't understand why you don't intentionally mess with kids. I'm not talking about jumping out from behind the doorway and giving them a good scare. I'm talking about abusing their trust because of some teenage gossip. And to the other person that thought she was 'thrown to the wolves'. Even if the case was a farce, she wasn't thrown to anything. Her dumb ass is the reason why new laws have to be written, because she's too F***ing stupid to realize it on her own. Dragging her around the political limelight is 'karma' in and of it's own right because she couldn't admit that maybe she'd crossed the line.
What she did may not have been illegal, but I'm sure people letting her know that's she's garbage isn't illegal either. The threats on her life are another matter, much like her comments to the girl were. It's up to the local authorities to determine if it's worth prosecuting or not. I'd say most of those making the comments wouldn't seriously consider her to be killed, but made the comments to demonstrate how little they thought of this woman as a person.
Did the judge do the correct thing? Yes. And I am pretty sure I saw the girl's mother saying that they were going to file a civil suit against her. Much like what happened to O.J. If she realized what she did was wrong, I might be tempted to feel sorry for her. She doesn't and it's evident by the way she's acted throughout all of this.
12 Gauge commentators
Perhaps you should actually study law a little. Laws are not only designed to protect society from the criminal, they are also to protect the accused from society.
Looks like this woman needs Chuck Norris.
The sad truth is, she didn't break any laws - at least not the ones she's been tried for. I'd still wager that sexual advances towards a minor using MySpace would qualify for some pretty harsh penalties, and possibly land her on the sex offenders list. But the truth is she didn't directly kill this little girl. There were a wide range of factors involved that culminated in this tragic event. Whilst she triggered a chain reaction of events that lead to Megan's suicide, it's clearly noted that she didn't actually suggest she should kill herself, and didn't tie the knot in the rope herself.
IF it was her who had send the "world would be a better place without you" message, that would change things considerably I imagine. But proving that she's fabricating a cover story would be difficult I'd wager?
However, to the person complaining about sickening "12 gauge justice" - frankly I feel she got what she deserved. Whilst I agree she can't, and shouldn't, be punished under law (those she was tried against at least) - she got everything she deserved. HER actions were sickening, depraved, and way beyond 'sleazy'. She knew full well what she was doing was wrong, and I'm glad she got her comeuppance.
In situation like this, where there is not legislation under which a person can be tried, I'm all in favour of 'societal justice' - obviously not to the degree of physical violence, but in making it clear she is no longer welcome in society, with constant reminder that she is a sick individual and an outcast.
But I still feel a term on whatever qualifies as the sex offenders registry in the USA would be a nice legal reminder to anyone else out there of her mindset that this kind of behavior is wrong.
My concerns from here on out are for her children, and that they will be persecuted for the actions of their mother.