"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Childish Crime: Grownup Justice

(Megan Meier)

When this story came across the news last year, it stopped me in my tracks. I was sure I had heard it wrong. I remember flipping the channels to find another 24 hour news station. Surely it wasn't true. An adult, a MOTHER, in Missouri, had helped set up a fake MySpace account, had posed as a teenage boy and communicated with a girl, Megan Meier, a friend of her daughter's. The so-called adult, Lori Drew, then proceeded to instigate a relationship with Megan over the internet. Her reasoning for doing all this? To find out what Megan might be saying about her daughter.
She ended the whole ruse by "breaking up" with Megan and telling her horrible things, and saying the "world would be a better place without her". Megan committed suicide. She was 13 years old. Lori Drew was 49 at the time.
I was so angered by this story, I couldn't see straight. To think that an adult would sink to this, and that she also involved her daughter and her daughter's friends in the whole thing just sickened me. Did she never stop and think what she was teaching them? Even worse, Lori knew that Megan was on medication for depression, as Megan had spent time with the Drew family on vacations, etc.
This story bothered me for weeks afterwords. I followed the updates, learning that there were no laws that covered this type of crime. I also learned that the neighborhood there had turned against the Drews, and I was glad for that. Now, was Lori the sole reason for Megan's suicide? Maybe not--even Megan's parents said that. But, was what she did horribly wrong and should she be punished? You bet.
Watching Megan's parents in interviews, though, my heart ached for them. They were torn apart by guilt and anger and pain. Something needed to be done. As you will read from the article below from CNN, Lori Drew is at least being charged now.
I know that the internet is a free and open space, and that so much can happen, but at least as adults, we have to set examples, especially those adults with children, to teach them right from wrong, respect and compassion. Hell, we have to teach them that in every day life. The internet gives everyone easy ways to hide behind masks and hidden identities though, so these lessons are more important every day. I hope Lori Drew and her children have learned theirs. And I hope other parents are paying attention.

Mom indicted in deadly MySpace hoax

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A Missouri mother was indicted Thursday in the case of a teen who killed herself after being taunted on the social networking site MySpace.com.
Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.
A federal indictment accuses Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, of using a MySpace account to pose as a 16-year-old boy and feign romantic interest in the girl.
The girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide after her online love interest spurned her, according to prosecutors, telling her the world would be a better place without her.
Drew faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.
The indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Drew and others of registering on MySpace as "Josh Evans" and using the account to start an online romance with Meier.
Authorities have previously said that Drew set up the account to find out what Meier, who lived in her neighborhood, was saying about her daughter.
Prosecutors allege that Drew and the others violated MySpace's terms of service by using false information to create the account so they could "harass, abuse or harm" Meier, according to the indictment.
The two corresponded for about four weeks before "Josh" broke off the relationship, authorities said. Within an hour, Meier hanged herself in her room and died the next day.
The indictment does not allege that Drew sent the final message telling Meier the world would be a better place without her. Instead, the indictment blames her unnamed co-conspirators, who authorities have previously said include a teenage girl.
After Drew learned of the teen's suicide, the indictment alleges, she directed one of the teens involved to "keep her mouth shut" and deleted the account.
Meier's mother, Tina Meier, told CNN in November that her daughter had self-esteem issues and had struggled with depression since childhood.
She said when her daughter began receiving messages from "Josh" telling her she was pretty, she was thrilled.
When "Josh" broke off the relationship, Tina Meier said, her daughter was devastated.
"She was looking for me to help calm herself down like I always did and be there for her. And I was upset because I didn't like the language she was using, and I was angry she didn't sign off when I told her to," Tina Meier told CNN.
"She said to me, 'You're supposed to be my mom, you're supposed to be on my side,' and then took off running upstairs," Tina Meier said.
Tina Meier found her daughter hanging by a belt shortly afterward.
"It's as if my daughter killed herself with a gun," Meier's father, Ron, told CNN. "And it's as if they loaded the gun for her."
Drew is scheduled for arraignment in June.
"This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications," U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said in a written statement.
"Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering Web site to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences," O'Brien said.
In December, Missouri prosecutors declined to file charges against Drew, saying there was no law under which she could be charged.
"There is no way that anybody could know that talking to someone or saying that you're mean to your friends on the Internet would create a substantial risk," St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said. "Under the law, we just couldn't show that."

-article credit: CNN.com
Read an original article about this story here.



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