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Lori Drew Trial Results In 3 Misdemeanor Convictions 568

Posted by timothy
from the justice-or-not dept.
grassy_knoll writes "As a follow up to an earlier story, the Lori Drew 'cyber-bullying' trial has resulted in misdemeanor convictions." grassy_knoll quotes from the AP story as carried by Salon: "The Los Angeles federal court jury on Wednesday rejected felony charges of accessing a computer without authorization to inflict emotional distress on young Megan Meier. However, the jury found defendant Lori Drew guilty of three counts of the lesser offense of accessing a computer without authorization. The jurors could not reach a verdict on a conspiracy count. Prosecutors said Drew violated the MySpace terms of service by conspiring with her young daughter and a business assistant to create a fictitious profile of a teen boy on the MySpace social networking site to harass Megan. Megan, who had been treated for depression, hanged herself in 2006 after receiving a message saying the world would be better without her." Adds reader gillbates: "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines — a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."
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Lori Drew Trial Results In 3 Misdemeanor Convictions

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  • Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:13PM (#25903267) Journal
    She's an asshole though.
  • by butterflysrage (1066514) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:13PM (#25903273)

    if you sign up under a pseudonym... don't kill anyone.

    (and before everyone screams at me, yes I understand just how badly this precedent can be used)

  • Say what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:14PM (#25903281)

    a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym.

    This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

  • Somewhat fitting. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:15PM (#25903301)

    I don't think that putting her away for life is appropriate, let alone the death penalty.

    That being said, I also don't like the idea of an adult conspiring to harass an emotionally unstable child (aren't they all).

    This is a good decision, so long as it is upheld. 300K fine and a (relatively) short jail term is enough to ruin a life for anyone not upper class, and will likely act as a deterrent to others that think that conspiring to harass someone online is just fun and games.

    Now mod me to oblivion.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Windows_NT (1353809) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:17PM (#25903323) Homepage Journal
    Yea she is. Although im sure she wouldn't have done it if she knew what would happen, there are consequences. This story is kind of a nightmare for anyone, because im sure everyone here has harrased someone to a point where they might have felt bad about it. Picking on someone in class, or always giving shit to the person you dont like. Its too bad that happened, but for me, if reminds me just how much words can hurt someone. Make me think a little bit next time a give a death threat to the guy at McDonalds for putting no pickles on my burger instead of extra pickles.
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:17PM (#25903331)

    "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines - a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."

    I'm not actually troubled much by this at all. This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

    That's actually a good precedent.

    Can it be warped? Sure, but so can everything else. I personally feel that three misdemeanor convictions are a PERFECT fit for what happened, and would like to see similar charges brought against future 'cyber bullies' going forward with similar results. The penalties sound a bit harsh, but I'm sure they will be whittled to 90 days in a white-collar work camp, just as they were for the 'Spam King'.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:20PM (#25903365) Journal
    No. It was about the charge as written.

    If she was guilty of psychological stalking (which she was) she should have been charged with stalking. This is a clear misapplication of the law.
  • Precedent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:22PM (#25903393) Homepage
    Owning a crowbar is not a crime. Using it to bash in the skull of your neighbor is a major felony. Likewise, it isn't illegal to have a pseudonym.
  • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:22PM (#25903405)

    Sorry, but it's not "murder". It was a terrible thing that she did and she should be punished for it, but it was not actually murder.

    In any case, we live under the rule of law. And one consequence of that is that sometimes people do terrible things that are not covered by the law. In that case, these people should go free. It's terrible, but it's vastly superior to the anarchy that results when there is no rule of law.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thermian (1267986) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:23PM (#25903411)

    a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym.

    This has nothing to do with registering under a pseudonym. This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

    The take home is, victimizing someone is bad. That it happened via the internet means they've had to fudge things up a bit, but I don't think this means flaming someone on a website means the cops will come-a-calling.

    In this instance the woman was clearly a nasty piece of work, so I'm glad they found a way to punish her. I would not expect someone posting nastiness here would get into trouble with anyone except the mods.

    I think some people make the mistake of assuming that things done on the internet which would result in fines or punishment in the real world are somehow 'freedoms that need defending' on the web. I'm not one of those people.

    I don't mind argument, rudeness, flaming, or anything like that, I mean, that I just accept as background noise, but this incident went way beyond anything like of that nature.

  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:27PM (#25903439)

    All that means is that the law is wrong. Goading someone into killing themselves is murder.

    I have no idea why you brought up anarchy. I am advocating that we change our Justice system to actually mete out justice. That doesn't sound like anarchy to me.

    It is not justice to allow a murderer to go free. Technicalities are not justice.

    In your world, pushing someone off a cliff is OK because you didn't kill them. After all, is it your fault they hit the ground?

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:27PM (#25903441) Journal

    The issue here is that she was probably charged under the wrong statute. I think any jury could have justly convicted her as an accessory to murder, at least. If you lie to someone and convince them to off themselves by doing so, there's got to be an existing charge that doesn't depend on whether a computer was involved in the process.

    -jcr

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:28PM (#25903457)

    Indeed, there's going to be a lot of outrage that she wasn't convicted of more serious offences, but there's a limited scope to what can be done to her.

    If you make it too severe, then in similar cases where the defendant is totally innocent, you're going to have problems.

    This is much like the attempt to reclassify downloading music and movies as a felony. Is it against the law? Yes. Is it a crime equal to grand theft auto or murder? No.

    What this woman did was cowardly, stupid, abhorrent and vindictive, and almost certainly led the young girl to kill herself due to being bullied and psychologically manipulated by a grown (physically) but immature (mentally) woman who should really know better.

    There is possibly a case for manslaughter, but in that case, you'd likely have to prove that the nasty cunt set out to kill Megan, instead of just set out to bully her, and you run the risk of her being acquitted.

    Perhaps one day she'll feel guilty for killing a child, but the law and justice system just isn't set up to put her away for that, at least not without endangering the system itself.

  • by Talgrath (1061686) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:29PM (#25903465)

    How many teenagers (girl or boy) honestly talk to their parents about their problems?

  • by Doug52392 (1094585) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:29PM (#25903467)
    By launching criminal charges against anyone who posts on 4chan's /b/ board for using the pseudonym "Anonymous" on their posts, and sending us all to jail?
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:29PM (#25903469) Journal

    Well, put it this way. If I tell you I'm a doctor and that you're terminally ill and that you'll die in horrible pain pretty soon, and based upon that believe you shoot yourself in the head, it's a suicide but it was induced by deception.

    -jcr

  • by homer_s (799572) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:30PM (#25903475)
    It was a terrible thing that she did and she should be punished for it,

    Would you argue that she should be punished even if the young girl had just shrugged it off and got on with her life?

    The punishment should be based on an act, not on somebody's reaction to that act. Either an action 'ABC' is a crime or it is not - that should not depend on someone's reaction to 'ABC'.
  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:30PM (#25903483) Homepage Journal

    This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

    What if it were a real teenaged boy who used his real name and information and he harassed the girl and drove her to suicide? To me, the falsification of information seems irrelevant.

  • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:32PM (#25903499)

    I brought up anarchy because it's what punishing this person implies.

    It may or may not be reasonable to cover the law such that this offense can be punishable the next time it happens. That's really a separate debate, but I'm not arguing against it here.

    What's unreasonable is deciding that this person must be punished even though her action was not against the law. By all means, advocate that the law should be changed. But if you believe in the rule of law at all, this person should be set free!

    As for the definition of "murder", you can quibble over the English definition but clearly what she did is not covered by the legal definition, otherwise the prosecutors would have charged her with it.

  • by DeadManCoding (961283) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:33PM (#25903511)
    Mod parent and GP up!! Parent has my exact opinion. Any woman willing to go to this length for a confrontation with a 13 year old girl and then decides to engage in cyberbullying deserves some prison time.
  • The biggest WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:37PM (#25903565) Homepage

    ...to me is that it seems the only thing she was really convicted of was "accessing a computer without authorization". Does that mean that if we talked over IRC or some P2P chat or sent an e-mail or whatever where you didn't explicitly agree to a ToS regarding the service, that this would be completely legal? Because if that's the case, it's an absurd penalty for breaking a ToS and pretty wierd that there's no other law to deal with somebody harassing a kid to death. Or maybe I'm completely misreading this?

  • by IronChef (164482) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:39PM (#25903577)

    I'm not actually troubled much by this at all. This is what happens to someone who falsifies their information to use an online service TO A BAD END.

    Thank goodness it's the government who will decide what a "bad end" means!

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:39PM (#25903579)

    Really? So if I accidentally shoot someone while hunting, and that person gets hit in the arm and has to have surgery, I should get charged as heavily as if that person got hit in the head and died?

    As far as this case goes... it's not murder, certainly. I don't think she should be (and isn't) held accountable for the death of the person. However, if she actually was messing with the girl's mind and thus had power over her and told her to kill herself, basically, and she does it... she actually DOES deserve harsher consequences than if the result was otherwise.

    Think of a cult leader that has a mental sway over someone as opposed to a wacko that has no charisma at all. If a wacko is going around saying the world would be better without this person or that person, that's one thing; if it's a cult leader (or a parent, a spouse, etc) that has some mental/psychological leverage, it's a lot different.

    Not to say that I believe in some weird mental phenomena and psychic powers... but intent has something to do with it, too. I could jokingly tell someone they should kill themselves, and I could seriously try to get them to do it with just words. There IS a big difference. Which is why people like Kevorkian should not be allowed to do the sick things they want to do, and why doctors should not be allowed to encourage suicide (or, IMO, help it.. unfortunately, Washington (state) thinks otherwise).

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:41PM (#25903591) Homepage Journal
    "She's an asshole though."

    Well, but, that is not against the law...if it were, well, the prisons would be bursting at the seams even moreso than they do now..

    I hope this gets tossed out on appeal. While what she did was reprehensible, this sets a dangerous precedent. You can get a misdemeanor conviction with jail time and heft fine just for joining something like myspace under false name, etc?

    Even if you think she is a bitch and should get some punishment for what she did....I'd hope you would not like to have a precedent of this type of conviction that could be used against someone doing something as innocuous as joining a website under a false name....

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:42PM (#25903601)

    Herein lies the problem with the American way of life. If someone is an asshole to you they KNOW that you cant reach over and smack them in the face.

    It's why these jerks on the highways and roads, tailgaite you, cut you off, and generally put your life in danger for their convenience. If they knew that I would stop my car and kick their ass, they would not do it.

    Honestly a lot of people in his world need to be smacked in the head, all the way to having the ever living crap beat out of them. If that happened more and Judges had 1/4 a brain and said," you deserved to be smacked.. you cover all court costs and his costs as well." Then the world would be far more polite and less jerkwad filled.

    Yes that applies to cops too.. if a cop is an asshole, we deserve to be able to wait for him after work and kick his ass.

  • by MrCawfee (13910) <mrcawfee @ y a h o o .com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:46PM (#25903639) Homepage

    umm.. were you a teenager?

    a) "ooh it's their parents fault for not being there": the "previously treated for depression" kinda blows that away..

    b) depressed people aren't usually trying to get better, despair sets in it doesn't matter anymore.

    Making snap judgments and automatically blaming the girls parents is bullshit.

    and to the next comment in this thread:
      "if she had perfect parents, she likely wouldn't be depressed and suicidal."

    that is bullshit as well, the "where were the parents" argument doesn't apply to everything.

    If a person wants to end their life, no one can stop them. The girls parents TRIED to solve it by treating her, so the blame the parents attitude is bullshit.

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:46PM (#25903643) Homepage

    Adds reader gillbates: "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines -- a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."

    how so? i register on websites with pseudonyms all the time. this does not trouble me at all (other than the fact a grown woman would conspire with her daughter to bully a neighbor's kid, especially a young girl with emotional problems).

    the problem isn't with the interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in this particular case. the problem is with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [wikipedia.org] itself. this incident actually resulted in the death of a girl and was motivated by deliberate malice. a maximum (which are rarely handed out to members of privileged social groups) of 3 years in jail and $300,000 doesn't seem any more ridiculous than handing out such punishments to well-intending security experts [cnet.com].

    i would be more disturbed by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act being applied to non-malicious teenage hackers breaking into un-secured government networks out of curiosity. if they can be faulted for "damages" that include the time spent investigating the intrusion and fixing the pre-existing security flaws, then certainly a grown woman can be punished for causing the death of a little girl.

    in any case, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act needs major reforms, and perhaps making such ridiculous laws applicable to the general population will open people's eyes.

  • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:48PM (#25903659)

    That's an interesting interpretation of the law or morality but I don't think you'll find that it matches the real world even a little bit.

    Forget to feed your baby and he cries a lot and shrugs it off: no consequences.

    Forget to feed your baby and he dies: you go to prison for a very long time.

    Go 25MPH over the speed limit and get caught by a cop: expensive speeding ticket.

    Go 25MPH over the speed limit and kill a van full of girl scouts: you go to prison for a very long time.

    Plan to kill somebody and screw it up: go to prison for a little while.

    Plan to kill somebody and succeed: get the chair.

    Need I go on? Outcomes matter.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yahma (1004476) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:49PM (#25903667) Journal

    The take home is, victimizing someone is bad. That it happened via the internet means they've had to fudge things up a bit, but I don't think this means flaming someone on a website means the cops will come-a-calling.

    In this instance the woman was clearly a nasty piece of work, so I'm glad they found a way to punish her. I would not expect someone posting nastiness here would get into trouble with anyone except the mods.

    I think some people make the mistake of assuming that things done on the internet which would result in fines or punishment in the real world are somehow 'freedoms that need defending' on the web. I'm not one of those people.

    I don't mind argument, rudeness, flaming, or anything like that, I mean, that I just accept as background noise, but this incident went way beyond anything like of that nature.

    That means if anyone registers on MySpace or Slashdot, for that matter, with false information and flames you. And if you later commit suicide, that person who flamed you could be charged with a crime. The precedent is set, these cases will be much easier to prosecute in the future.

  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:51PM (#25903687) Journal
    That doesn't (and shouldn't) make you a criminal. I know someone, practically family, who went through a horrible ordeal because of someone she was supposed to be able to trust. Someone who was family. When she signed up for MySpace to keep in touch with her friends, she did so under an assumed name so that same person (who was known to use MySpace) wouldn't be able to easily locate her. So, she's just committed the same act as the defendant in this case. So technically, she should get 3 years in jail and a fine. Right?
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @04:59PM (#25903765)

    All that means is that the law is wrong. Goading someone into killing themselves is murder.

    No, it's not. Said person always had a choice to live; a murder victum does not get that choice. You're trivializing murder.

    I have no idea why you brought up anarchy. I am advocating that we change our Justice system to actually mete out justice. That doesn't sound like anarchy to me.

    Twisting laws to "get the bad guy" is anarchy. The laws are supposed to be specific. If we allow your line of thinking, any law can be twisted to convict anyone of anything. It's also inconsitent, since the same situation might come up and not be tried at all, or be tried by twisting around another law. That sounds pretty choatic to me.

    It is not justice to allow a murderer to go free. Technicalities are not justice.

    See.. your arguing based on your emotion, not law. You're redefining murder to suit your own ends, and then calling THAT justice.

    In your world, pushing someone off a cliff is OK because you didn't kill them. After all, is it your fault they hit the ground?

    Yes, because you caused them to fall by pushing them. Name calling is not at all like pushing someone off a cliff. Get a grip.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:07PM (#25903841) Homepage Journal

    Note how Meier was also taking Geodon, which is used for schizophrenia, acute mania, and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder

    That is stated in the article

    She was clearly being affected negatively by the anti-depressant Celexa. Instead of taking her off the medication her doctors gave her more medication!

    I could not find anything to support that claim. While indeed the symptoms could have been side-effects of the anti-depressant, it is also possible that those symptoms were present before. The wikipedia article also mentions that she was under the care of a psychiatrist from age 3, so there was probably quite a bit going on that wasn't disclosed in that page.

    I agree that the anti-depressants do have negative side-effects for some patients, that has been demonstrated. However, the links you provided don't support your claim of her other psychiatric symptoms being the direct result of those medications.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tanktalus (794810) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:08PM (#25903857) Journal

    Not entirely. Yes, the charges were stretched. But the jury apparently agreed enough that Lori was doing something that either is criminal, or should be criminal to give her a conviction. In the same way that a jury has the right to discard a bad law (even if the judge won't tell them they do), they should have the right to mete out a good law.

    Psychological abuse resulting in death is what Lori got convicted for, regardless of what the D.A. could get past a judge.

  • Re:Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:09PM (#25903877) Homepage Journal

    "She's an asshole though."
    Well, but, that is not against the law...

    No, but fraud and harassment are. And this sounds like a pretty clear case of using a pseudonym in a fraudulent manner in order to harass an individual. I for one do NOT hope that the judgment is vacated.

  • by Thalaric (197339) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:11PM (#25903899)

    Creating laws to charge people with after the fact is a fast track to tyranny. There is no rule of law per se only the state's will to prosecute, since everyone has necessarily broken laws that are not yet written. Please review history.

  • Re:Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JimDaGeek (983925) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:13PM (#25903921)
    I agree with you for the most part. However, this case had A LOT OF EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE attached to it.

    Also, she didn't "innocuously" join a website under a false name. She did it for one purpose. To harass and bring emotional damage to a child, an emotionally unstable child at that.

    I also blame the parents of Megan for even letting her get on anti-depressants at such a young age. Those meds are harsh and should be only used under the care of a very, very good psychiatrist, note that I did NOT say psychologist. Huge, huge difference. I noticed a trend where a lot of non-medically trained psychologist are making recommendations about MEDICATIONS to their clients (they call them patients). This is very scary. Only a MEDICAL doctor should make those calls. Yet parents hear crap like ADD or ADHD from just a psychologist and run to their primary care doctor and tell him/her and bam the child is on very harsh drugs that DO have long-term effects and have been shown to cause suicidal thoughts. SSRI's [fda.gov].

    Hell, I am only 35, I was never drugged out by my parents for "mood swings" or my "lack of attention". I spent most of my time in high school with a boner and looking out the window. I turned out OK and with a good career.

    "Modern" parents, stop, stop, stop, drugging your kids because they don't fit into some model mold you created in your head. They are freaking kids for crying out loud.

    Would Megan still be alive if she never took SSRI's? No one could say that. However, I personally believe she would.

    Should we make this skank mother pay for what she did to Megan? No. She didn't break any laws, so let's not create new ones just for this waste of life.

    I personally don't want to have to worry about criminal charges because I didn't adhere to some big corps. EULA. Jeez.
  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:14PM (#25903931) Homepage Journal

    According to the outcome of this case, violating a web site's terms of service is a crime, not just a contract issue.

    The MySpace Terms of Service [myspace.com] prohibit harassing other users. They also require accurate contact information.

    If a website operator can put you in jail for TOS violations as opposed to just closing your account, then as long as they can get a prosecutor to play along, they can put you in jail for signing up with bogus information.

    >This has to do with psychological stalking and trauma. Please pull your head out of your ass. I'm sure it's hard to breathe up there.

    "The Los Angeles federal court jury on Wednesday rejected felony charges of accessing a computer without authorization to inflict emotional distress on young Megan Meier."

  • by $criptah (467422) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:17PM (#25903963) Homepage

    Sorry dude, murder it is not. She was not charged with a murder or a homocide. She was not charged with anything but a breach of the terms of service. That is it. The charge was and is fair. If you want to prosecute somebody for murder you need to find an appropriate indictment. In fact, one could argue that this woman is not going to get a fair trial due to the extreme publicity of this case and thus these charges could be tossed out on an appeal. All a good laywer has to do is to find a hole in defense that shows how being accused of murder affected the outcome of the trial. I hope that this happens becuase we cannot mis-apply the law no matter what.

    It sucks that our law does not cover every particular situation but that's the way things work. That's why we cannot legally detain people for longer than X hours without pressing the charges or deport individuals who have no home state if the gov't strips them off their citizenship/legal residence. That's why we have statutes of limitations on everything but the most grusome crimes. That's why we select a group of piers who will debate on a case and produce a verdict. Emotion has never been or should be any part of the criminal procedure by design and it is our duty to make rational decisions based only on the facts that pretain to the case. If we don't do that we break the same justice system we want to "fix."

    On the plus side this woman can still face civil charges. Also, the facts that were not admissable in the criminal court can be used in civil trials and various hearings which could impact further fines.

  • Makes no sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carrot007 (37198) <`ku.oc.troperelbbiweht' `ta' `700torraC'> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:18PM (#25903967) Homepage

    Am I the only one who cannot understand why they went this stupid direction rather than processing using a relevent law. (Yes I know they said they they could not find any law applicable...)

    To me this seems just as bad as when some companyt slaps "on the internet" onto some existing thing and try to patent it/otherwise claim control over it.

    Surely mental torture is covered by an existing law. "On the internet" is neither here nor there.

    Maybe it's just me but I'm sick of this "on the internet" bollocks.

  • Scaremongering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:18PM (#25903977)

    Adds reader gillbates: "She now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines -- a troubling precedent for anyone who has ever registered with a website under a pseudonym."

    Gillbates is just scaremongering.

    She wasn't convicted of "registering for a website under a pseudonym", she was convicted for accessing the system without authorization (that is, in violation of the terms which gave her the right to use the system) by providing false information, and for using the service to solicit personal information from a minor and to harras or harm other people, all of which are expressly forbidden by the terms of service.

    People who register under pseudonyms on sites that do not expressly prohibit such registrations have nothing to fear here.

  • by Cornflake917 (515940) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:21PM (#25904009) Homepage

    Either an action 'ABC' is a crime or it is not - that should not depend on someone's reaction to 'ABC'.

    Okay, I guess I can try to murder my friend who is allergic to peanuts by putting peanuts in his food, and get away with it. Hey, feeding peanuts to someone isn't a crime!! So even though I knew he was allergic to peanuts and he could possibly die, I shouldn't receive any punishment, right?

    The crime in this case should be that Lori Drew tormented a girl who had depression and risked the girl's life by psychologically hurting her. Since there was no "Making a Myspace persona to incite an individual's suicide" crime, the prosecution found another crime that was already in the books (but generally never enforced, and probably won't be enforced in the future except for extreme cases like this) that she did commit and used those as reason to punish her. This obviously isn't the most efficient way to serve justice, but I do think justice was served in this particular case.

  • Re:Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:26PM (#25904069)

    "No, but fraud and harassment are."

    As I said before...trouble is, she wasn't convicted of this really. She was convicted of basically breaking the myspace EULA. She wasn't convicted of harassment...

    I feel you, and I hold out hope for the appeal but even if that never comes you can still take some small consolation in knowing the authorities won't be on this like white on rice. What I'm saying is the state needed to punish her, so the state found a way. It was about her, not about using a false name. It's similar to marijuana tax stamp laws currently enacted in a multitude of states. They are going to get you on something if they want to.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:30PM (#25904113) Homepage Journal
    "No, this was a case in which the defendant and victim were in close proximity in the real world as well. It isn't a case of random badmouthing on the internet."

    Ahh...but, the law does not make distinction. Well, in this case, there is no law..but the stretching of one law that is not applicable really to punish a bad act that wasn't against any law on the books (believe me, they tried to find one). So, this precedent is bad in that it uses a law that was stretched...and nowhere does this precedent draw the distinction that you spoke of, and could therefore BE used against much more innocuous crimes. Remember, if something is on the books...it can, and as history shows WILL be abused.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:30PM (#25904117) Journal
    In the same way that a jury has the right to discard a bad law (even if the judge won't tell them they do), they should have the right to mete out a good law.

    No. They really shouldn't. The law should be to protect the innocent. If a few of the guilty remain free that is an unfortunate cost of the system, but one we should accept.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:32PM (#25904135) Homepage

    An adult harassing a child is not the same as a child harassing a child. Adults should know better.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:38PM (#25904199) Homepage Journal

    An adult harassing a child is not the same as a child harassing a child. Adults should know better.

    Sure, but that's got nothing to do with my point which was in response to BobMcD's point of making a big deal out of the fact that the information was falsified. OK, so what if Lori had used her real name and information? The fact that she drove a girl to suicide is the problem. The fact that she used false information is, again, irrelevant.

  • this is ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moxley (895517) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:46PM (#25904269)

    #1. What Lori Drew did was reprehensible and disgusting, but not illegal.

    #2. She is not responsible for Megan's suicide in any way shape or form any more than you'd be responsible for my suicide if you told me to "fuck off and die" because you don't like this post.

    #3. Using dubious interpretations of the legal system to persecute those who some feel have violated the social compact or acted outside of the bounds of what we consider to be normal decent behavior, yet who haven't violated a law is not only wrong, it's extremely dangerous and undermines everything that this country is supposed to stand for.

    #4. Some people need to come off of it - your need to feel some sort of vindication by seeing that this woman is punished does not outweigh the damage done by this ruling to the rest of our rights. I am sure she is suffering for this, and I am sure she didn't really think that this girl would kill herself. Even if she did, that isn't a crime. People are responsible for their own actions - the world is a mean place, and if you're looking for someone to blame foir her suicide it makes more sense to blame her parents (though I don't think they are to blame either - depression is a bitch).

  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:47PM (#25904277) Homepage Journal

    What if it were a real teenaged boy who used his real name and information and he harassed the girl and drove her to suicide? To me, the falsification of information seems irrelevant.

    I don't think it's completely irrelevant.

    If it were a real boy who really felt that way then his motivation may be expressing his feelings rather than (just) hurting the girl. It's not pretty but telling someone you don't like them anymore is something a lot of people would have done at one time or another.

    With an invented boy it's pretty clear that the only motivation was to cause distress.

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v3lut (123906) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:47PM (#25904285) Homepage

    Are you familiar enough with Megan's medical history, her treatment history, her symptoms and her prescribed medications and dosages to speak intelligently about them with the treating physician? If so, then you should write a paper, or at least an article on the subject.

    However, if you are basing your statements off the fact that antidepressants are carelessly over-prescribed in some cases, and completely unnecessary in other cases, without knowing for fact that this was actually the case in Megan's case, then I postulate that you don't actually know enough about what was going on to blame the parents for anything.

    What happened here was pretty messed up. I don't know exactly where I fall in all this, legally speaking. Morally speaking, I'm pretty clear on the subject. But to blame Megan's parents for letting her be prescribed antidepressants, without being able to speak in depth about what was being treated, how and by whom, is pretty weak. Being a parent is hard enough as it is.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CdBee (742846) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:51PM (#25904327)
    What she did isnt just bitchinesss. What she did, with malice intended, ended a human life. She deserves jail. a LOT of jail.
  • by sssssss27 (1117705) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:55PM (#25904357)
    Actually it seems exactly like that. From what I have read and heard it seems like it was the culmination of things that pushed this girl over the edge. I know my mom would never turn down me or any of my siblings for support no matter how badly we disobeyed her orders. Especially if we were to the point of tears. This girl was being attacked from every angle, including her mom. It's no wonder she reacted the way she did especially when she is on medication with a reported side effect of suicidal tendencies.

    My friends wonder why I'm always willing to listen to them regardless of what time it is or what I have to do; this is the reason why. Sometimes we just need to know that we aren't alone in the world and even though a person might not agree with our actions still is there for us.

    What I want to know is why Lori Drew started the whole thing in the first place.
  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidsin (398151) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @05:59PM (#25904385) Homepage

    personally, i won't be taking any consolation in knowing that a precedent was set that gives authorities in the U.S. more leeway in harassing the innocent. if the state "needed to punish her" then they "needed" to make a valid case on harassment charges. aside from online banking, i'm not sure that i've *ever* signed up at a website with my real personal info, and i'm sure i'm not the only one. the idea of being on the hook for a year in prison and a hundred g's for each such instance makes me real glad i don't live in the U.S.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:03PM (#25904409)

    What if it were a real teenaged boy who used his real name and information and he harassed the girl and drove her to suicide? To me, the falsification of information seems irrelevant.

    A teenaged boy would probably not be able to pull off such a sophisticated attack, since he wouldn't have as much life experience as this adult did. He also wouldn't be as aware of the possible dire consequences of his actions as this adult was. Adults have absolutely no business using their superior psychological abilities to inflict abuse on kids/teenagers.

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:17PM (#25904535) Homepage

    Also, she didn't "innocuously" join a website under a false name. She did it for one purpose. To harass and bring emotional damage to a child, an emotionally unstable child at that.

    Since technically suicide is a criminal act and this grown woman contributed to it, couldn't they go for contributing to the delinquency of a minor instead?

  • by topham (32406) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:20PM (#25904563) Homepage

    A teenage boy having a disagreement with a girl and having it result in suicide is tragic.

    An adult, pretending to be a teenager who intentionally manipulates a child (which is what young teenagers are) is criminal.

    If you, or anybody else on Slashdot can't figure out the difference you need to grow up.
    An adult is expected to be able to draw conclusions about their actions and the resulting consequences. They are held to a higher standard than teenagers and children.
    If a teenager intentionally harassed a child and the child committed suicide it is entirely possible they could be found guilty and sentenced appropriately; however it would be more difficult to show their intent.

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:20PM (#25904565)

    What I'm saying is the state needed to punish her, so the state found a way. It was about her, not about using a false name.

    And the fallout from that misguided deed will be far worse than what was gained today.

  • by TRRosen (720617) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:24PM (#25904607)

    This is not about using a fake name to sign on to a web site! such actions do not fall under this law!

    This is about providing False information to access a computer (Which really is all that hacking is) with the intent to cause harm or damage. The are TWO clear elements of this crime

    1-unauthorized access

    2-intent to inflict harm.

    you must do both to be guilty and the jury decided she did (correctly in my opinion)

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:26PM (#25904629)

    All that this case has shown is that seducing a child by means of a false identity for the purposes of causing emotional harm is going to get you a jury conviction. Most likely regardless of the actual charge. If Lori Drew hadn't been targeting a specific person as revenge, and if she hadn't known that the person she was seducing was a child, she probably would have gotten off pretty easily.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:37PM (#25904713) Homepage Journal

    An adult, pretending to be a teenager who intentionally manipulates a child (which is what young teenagers are) is criminal.

    Apparently not since that's not what Lori was charged with. Just because you either think it's a crime or want it to be a crime doesn't mean it currently is. And the fact that she used false information is still irrelevant (unless you think it would be totally OK for Lori to have "intentionally manipulated" the girl to commit suicide had Lori used her real information). This is my only point.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @06:48PM (#25904781)

    "Yes, it is, if you use that pseudonym to chat with teenage girls and you encourage them to kill themselves and they follow through. Be very afraid."

    That's not relevant to the crime she was charged with. If none of that had happened, she could still have been convicted.

    This is an example of government using a bad law to reach a popular result. In this case, we tend to like the result, because it was used against a person who well and truly sucks.

    If you trust that the government will never use these charges against people who don't well and truly suck, then you have more faith in the government than I do.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @07:34PM (#25905099)

    I agree with you for the most part. However, this case had A LOT OF EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE attached to it.

    Kind of like the PATRIOT acts.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @08:47PM (#25905481) Homepage Journal

    Attention ladies and gentlemen.

    You should all commit suicide, because someone on the internet is about to say something mean to you.

    You -- not the parent poster (Though he's included), YOU the person reading this, are really stupid. You're probably ugly too. And fat.

    Don't bother arguing that you shouldn't. Somebody you don't know MADE FUN OF YOU. ON THE INTERNET. This is serious business.

  • Re:Shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:03PM (#25905547) Journal

    "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing."

    --"The Tower of the Elephant", Robert E. Howard

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phulegart (997083) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:13PM (#25905605)

    Wow... what a way to justify your own inappropriate actions... to throw out a blanket policy that Everyone has harassed someone to the point of regretting it, just so you feel better about the times that YOU did it in the past.

    So, how does it feel to be wrong? I mean, you are sure that everyone here has harassed someone to a point where they might have felt bad about it. I've never done that. I know others that have never done that. This makes you wrong. Don't even bother to argue that... you said everyone. I'm part of that Everyone, and I'm here. Some of us actually take responsibility for our actions, and the words that come out of our mouths. Some of us think about what we say before we say it, and if we say biting things, we mean to be biting. I understand that this is a foreign concept to you. Don't argue that it's not a foreign concept to you either. You've already proven that you need to be reminded how much words can hurt someone. That means you forget how much words can hurt people. That means you don't always think about what you say. That means that you don't take responsibility for what you say. That means the concept of ALWAYS thinking before you speak and ALWAYS taking responsibility for your words and actions is a foreign concept.

    Lori Drew knew full well what she was doing was malicious. She just thought nothing was wrong with what she was doing. She thought her actions were correct for HER and her life. She just did not put any real thought to what she was doing. She enjoyed being mean to that child, and she enjoyed making that child's life hell. Then she applied her own twisted morality to it, and thought, "Aww, what a baby... can't take the heat."

    Well, this woman got off light. I say an Eye for an Eye. I say that if you want to teach people to take responsibility, you must show them that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. Execute her. I don't really care if people think that is absurd or too harsh. If people do not fear and respect the consequences, they will continue to behave badly. Lori Drew's punishment should be so harsh that she not only never EVER wants to act that way again, but that she should spend her remaining life making amends... considering her actions already cost someone else (someone who was not fully developed enough to realize their potential and understand life) her life. Lori Drew's life should be forfeit. Ok. Maybe not Executed. Maybe a lifetime of public service helping kids with self-esteem issues.

  • Re:Shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtechie (244489) * on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @09:34PM (#25905731)

    However, if you are basing your statements off the fact that antidepressants are carelessly over-prescribed in some cases, and completely unnecessary in other cases, without knowing for fact that this was actually the case in Megan's case, then I postulate that you don't actually know enough about what was going on to blame the parents for anything.

    No. His statement was a lot more profound. He was questioning the wisdom of EVER perscribing powerful psychotropic drugs to teenagers who are acting normally (depression, violent behavior, and suicide attempts are normal for teenagers) given their brains are not yet fully developed.

    Many people do not realize that not only were most antidepressants not tested on teenagers, but many of them weren't even tested for depression. They were developed to treat other, more severe, mental issues and depression is an off-label use. Many people are stunned to hear that drugs like Paxil and Zoloft were not clinically tested for depression. And there is a huge difference between clinical depression (crying uncontrollably 24/7) and the very mild depression these drugs are generally prescribed to treat. They only tested them on people with serious depression.

    This is not to say long term studies haven't been done. A few have (you can count them on the fingers of one hand, I think there's 4 now). And the results aren't promising. Most importantly, they tend to show that taking antidepressansts does not have to seem have much of a positive impact on behavior when compared to doing nothing.

    I think associating SSRIs with suicide as a side effect is a bit of a red herring. I think the bigger problem is that parents have a child with serious depression, pump them up with drugs, and consider that "doing something" instead of dealing with actual issues. Like the fact that you're a lousy parent.

  • Re:Shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ronin Developer (67677) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @10:37PM (#25906025)

    Exactly. It isn't about the fact she created an account under a false name. It's what she used it for. Anonymity is good when you aren't using it to harm someone else. She was fully aware of the potential for harm in her actions.

    Her behavior afterwards was like "What's the big deal - some little kid wacked herself - maybe mommy should have watched her more carefully".

    The problem is that there aren't laws that govern cyberbulling that have any teeth to them. That will change soon.

    I have kids of my own - one, now 14, who is bullied because he's much smaller than other kids his age, is smarter than several of them put together and has mild Asbergers. The school has a "Zero Tolerance Policy". Yet, when a kid threatened to slit his throat, nothing was done about it - we weren't even called by the school.

    Life's tough on the kid and my wife and I worry about him all the time as he gets depressed easily. It's tough seeing him go through what he does every day.

    As for her - Screw this bitch. What I would love to see is that nobody give her even the time of day. Fire her from her job - don't employ her. Heck - fire her husband too. Make her life miserable. Raise her credit card rates to 25%. And, please...don't give her her a book deal or pay her to speak. Let her suffer for what she's done. She deserves to live and rot in Hell.

    Maybe, if there's a God, the fact that she was convicted of a crime may allow the girls parents to sue her for everything she's got - and actually win.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday November 26, 2008 @11:19PM (#25906197)

    Actually it seems exactly like that. From what I have read and heard it seems like it was the culmination of things that pushed this girl over the edge. I know my mom would never turn down me or any of my siblings for support no matter how badly we disobeyed her orders. Especially if we were to the point of tears. This girl was being attacked from every angle, including her mom. It's no wonder she reacted the way she did especially when she is on medication with a reported side effect of suicidal tendencies.

    Again - I'm sure the mother wishes she could relive that moment and handle the situation differently. But handling the situation badly is not the same thing as being inattentive. And it's not the same thing as being unavailable.

    I'd further point out that the problem here wasn't the advice. It was spot-on. The mother was available to give that advice and she was aware of the situation enough to give the right advice. The problem was in the delivery.

    As a husband and a father, I know that being "there" is a difficult job. Sometimes you're there to advise. Sometimes you just need to commiserate. Trying to read the situation and act accordingly is often difficult and you don't always get it right.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @05:23AM (#25907489)

    She's not responsible for her daughter killing herself. It was just really, really bad luck that her daughter went over the edge.

    I live day in, day out with someone who has attempted suicide on multiple occasions. Sometimes she's quite serious about it, sometimes she's doing it to get attention, some of the time she has simply got no control over herself... Sometimes I get really frustrated because she can't see the reasons for living right in front of her face.

    Having a mental illness, or living with someone who has a mental illness, guarantees a more complicated existence. There are times when she uses it as an excuse to act like a jerk, because she's as human as any of us.

    There are other times when she's so obviously fighting hard not to do what she genuinely feels like doing, what she sees as her only logical option. She has to actively ignore the "rational" voice in her head telling her that she's dumb, a failure, only making everyone around her miserable, not worth the bother, etcetera. It's hard to do that.

    She's getting better at ignoring any chain of throught that leads to suicide, but when she was 14, she was much worse at not acting rationally; she almost succeeded. Not any of your crappy little wrist-slashing knives or pills, either; ate rat poison AND jumped off a high roof, onto rocks, with a fucking MACHETE held against her neck. (It turned just far enough sideways so it didn't cut in deep.)

    I remarked later(when enough time had passed for it to be safe) that if she'd actually succeeded, the scene of her death would have at least made an awesome art installation.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @05:46AM (#25907571)

    I think some people make the mistake of assuming that things done on the internet which would result in fines or punishment in the real world are somehow 'freedoms that need defending' on the web. I'm not one of those people.

    Well, in this case, the only way they could nail her was because she used the internet. If she had harassed the girl in a way that didn't involve a computer, they wouldn't have been able to use the "unauthorized access to a computer" angle at all. So really, this went exactly the other way round than you think it went: not more "freedom" on the internet, but less.

    And it's not about "freedoms that need defending", but rather about due process or "state of law" (Rechsstaat [wikipedia.org]). In a democracy, you condemn people when they violated an actual law. If one kind of despicable behavior is not covered by a law, you have to let the perp walk (... and then change the damn law, so that you can at least get the next asshole who tries the same!). If you start bending justice for the "good cause", you'll have created a very bad precedent, that basically anybody can be jailed for anything, even if his/her actions are far less despicable than the initial incident.

  • Re:Shit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by E++99 (880734) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:11PM (#25911735) Homepage

    Agreed. It's no coincidence that back when men walked around with canes or swords, people were a lot more civil to each other. The threat of corrective violence is seriously lacking today.

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