by Cynthia Hunt
Megan Meier was only 13. She had a big smile, braces, and fragile eyes that hinted at the pain that adolescence often brings. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to hurt this little girl, but someone did.
The Mother’s Evil Plan Her family’s neighbor, a mother of another 13-year-old girl, created a fake identity of a teenage boy on MySpace just so she could hurt Megan. After weeks of a fake courtship, the mother then sent a message to Megan saying, “The world would be a better place without you.”
Megan believed her MySpace crush had sent that cruel message. That afternoon, Megan hanged herself in her bedroom.
Getting Away with Murder? . . . Sort of. . . . At first it seemed the mother, Lori Drew, would get away with these acts after Missouri law enforcement officials said she had not broken any law on their books. People across the nation were outraged Drew could get away with acts that seem criminal to any person with a lick of common sense. That’s when the United States attorney in Los Angeles, Thomas P. O’Brien, took action.
U.S. Attorney Fights for Justice O’Brien, a father himself, took a personal interest in Megan’s case. Using a creative legal strategy, O’Brien asserted jurisdiction because MySpace is based in Los Angeles where its servers are located. He prosecuted Drew on computer fraud charges for creating a phony account on MySpace.
This case marks the first time the federal statute designed to fight computer crime was used to prosecute someone for abusing a user agreement on a social networking site.
O’Brien said the verdict sends an “overwhelming message” to Internet users everywhere.
“If you are going to attempt to annoy or go after a little girl and you’re going to use the Internet to do so," O'Brien said, "this office and others across the country will hold you responsible.”The Mother Should Go to Prison I’m not sure how strong the message is though. The jury reduced the charges from felonies to misdemeanors. Drew could face up to three years in prison and a $300,000 fine. It seems light for someone with an elaborate scheme to torture a little girl.
Reporters described Drew as emotionless during most of the trial. After the verdict was read, she left the courtroom so angry her face was red. I hope the judge sentences Drew to the maximum. Her obvious lack of remorse might help.
I remember distinctly when the Missouri officials passed on the case. Credit should go to O’Brien for working so hard at his job despite the fact lawmakers haven’t done theirs.
Lawmakers need to act to address the growth of crime on the Internet. In the meantime, I hope there are more prosecutors like O’Brien who will fight for justice. People need to take responsibility for their actions on the Internet.
Florida Teen Commits Suicide on Web Cam While Internet Users Encourage It Last week, a 19-year-old student in Florida committed suicide in front of his Web cam while more than a thousand watched. On a message board at BodyBuilding.com, Abraham Biggs (pictured below) posted a suicide note and listed the pills he was going to use to take his life.
Strangers encouraged him to take the pills.
Over 1,300 strangers watched him take the pills.And strangers watched him die on his bed.
By the time one of the watchers finally called police to check on Andrew, it was too late.
Biggs’ father believes the Web site operators and the Internet users that encouraged Abraham must share some blame for Abraham’s suicide.Experts say the users' comments did play a role in his suicide. I believe that all the Web users who encouraged Abraham and especially the one who told him "go ahead and do it, faggot" should face serious charges.
While Biggs’ father is hoping police can file some kind of charges in his son’s suicide, Megan’s mother is waiting for her daughter’s cyber bully Lori Drew to be sentenced. Meanwhile, the unrepentant mother-bully is asking for a new trial. I think the only new thing she deserves is three long years facing federal prisoners who will know her as the big, mean, Internet bully who hurt little Megan. She may find what it's like to face a bully her own size.