Federal charges in MySpace suicide case

Federal prosecutors have indicted Lori Drew for actions on MySpace that led 13-year-old Megan Meier (right) to kill herself, USA Today reports.She was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of computer crimes.

Federal prosecutors have indicted Lori Drew for actions on MySpace that led 13-year-old Megan Meier (right) to kill herself, USA Today reports.

She was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of computer crimes. The grand jury charges that she accessed protected computers without authorization to obtain information used to inflict emotional distress.

"It's clearly a tragic case," U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien said. "We think Ms. Drew's actions resulted in the death of a child."

If convicted on all four counts, she faces 20 years in federal prison.

"Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering website to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences," O'Brien said.

Surely by now everyone knows the story of the fictional "Josh" that Lori Drew and her teenage accomplices created to spy on Megan. But no report tells the story better than Lauren Collins' New Yorker piece:

On October 15th, Megan received a message from Josh, written by Michele Mulford’s daughter from the Mulfords’ home computer. Mulford says that one day when her daughter was playing at the Drews’ house someone told her about the Josh Evans account, gave her the password, and encouraged her to join in the game. Her message to Megan, as Josh, said that he had heard she was mean to her friends. In the course of the day, Megan’s anxiety escalated. “What???” she wrote at 8:57 P.M. “Umm how bout no were the hell u gewt this?” she wrote, frantically, at 8:59. At 9:00: “Who are u even talkin bout umm ya idk.” 9:03: “Ok how bout no tell me who they are and ya so w/e u know u ant to nice ur self!!!!!” 9:05: “What the hell did I even say?”

... When Tina (Megan's mom) got home, at five o’clock, she found Megan in front of the computer in a state of superheated distress. An insult war had broken out among Megan, Josh, and some of their friends. Megan had called another girl a slut, and the aspersions were returned in kind. Ron says that after Megan died he discovered a final message from Josh, saying, “You’re a shitty person, and the world would be a better place without you in it.”

When Megan's parents heard of the indictment, they said they were "thrilled" and cried "tears of joy."