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Judge Tentatively Dismisses Case Against Lori Drew 420

Posted by timothy
from the gotta-state-a-proper-claim dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to Wired, 'A federal judge on Thursday overturned guilty verdicts against Lori Drew, and issued a directed acquittal on the three misdemeanor charges.'" A similar story in the L.A. Times notes that "The decision by US District Judge George H. Wu will not become final until his written ruling is filed, probably next week." Update: 07/02 21:15 GMT by T : For those not following, Lori Drew's three convictions sprang from charges of online harassment of Megan Meier, a Missouri teenager whose suicide was linked to Drew's actions.
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Judge Tentatively Dismisses Case Against Lori Drew

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  • by DinDaddy (1168147) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:26PM (#28563771)

    It will be interesting to see the public reaction to this.

    It's the correct decision, but the emotional "she must pay" reactions are going to be pervasive.

  • by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:29PM (#28563815)

    ...she was convicted of the wrong charges.

    She should have been charged with cyberstalking, stalking, harassment, something. Not for violating a website's terms of service.

    That being said, this is one of those cases where I hope the family of the victim sues her for everything she has.

  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:32PM (#28563845) Journal
    Exactly. The incompetent prosecuter screwed this one up big time, and ultimately did everyone a disservice by not knowing the law.
  • by pnuema (523776) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:36PM (#28563893)

    go to the St. Louis Post Dispatch website and read the comments. Whenever I begin to have faith in humanity, I go there and am reminded that I am surrounded by idiot racist filth.

    But I love St. Louis. Really.

  • Rule of Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:37PM (#28563909)

    It's a raw that Lori Drew won't be held responsible for her actions, but I prefer not stretching and bending the law to meet an emotional need. New situations arise, people suffer, but hopefully some level headed evolution of the law can deal better with similar occurrences in the future.

    That said, Lori Drew is an evil cunt.

  • by causality (777677) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:40PM (#28563969)

    From the article:

    Drew was accused of participating in a cyberbullying scheme against a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide. The case against Drew hinged on the governmentâ(TM)s novel argument that violating MySpaceâ(TM)s terms of service for the purpose of harming another was the legal equivalent of computer hacking.

    Sounds like they were trying to create the online equivalent of "disorderly conduct." That is, "we don't have any other crime to charge you with but we really, really don't like you, so have this generic charge instead."

  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:41PM (#28563989)

    ...she was convicted of the wrong charges.

    She should have been charged with cyberstalking, stalking, harassment, something. Not for violating a website's terms of service.

    Harassment would probably be appropriate.

    That being said, this is one of those cases where I hope the family of the victim sues her for everything she has.

    Despite the outcome, what she did really wasn't that horrible.

    The fact of the matter is that this girl committed suicide because a boy that she liked (who was actually not real, but she never knew that) told her that the world would be better off without her.

    Yes, it's strange for a grown woman to make a MySpace (or was it FaceBook?) account just to harass a kid... But let's be realistic here - all she did is call that girl names. That kind of stuff happens on a daily basis, all over the United States. I don't see how anyone would make it through school without at least one person telling them that they should just drop dead.

    So this Lori person made a fake account and said hurtful things... Would it somehow have been better if it was a real boy who was saying the hurtful things? Would it have been less fatal if it had happened in real life, instead of on-line?

  • Re:Rule of Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <.ku.oc.nez. .ta. .senoj.selig.> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:43PM (#28564007)

    You do have to ask yourself why a 50 year old woman is creating fake myspace accounts and luring underage girls into discussing things. If it was a man doing this it would be called grooming.

  • by Clixx (1590223) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:44PM (#28564027)
    But she's still a horrible parent and a horrible person, and even though I stopped believing in Karma as a universal cosmic force years ago, I hope she gets what she deserves for her part in abusing that poor 13 year old girl.
  • Re:Rule of Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:46PM (#28564063)

    It's a raw that Lori Drew won't be held responsible for her actions, but I prefer not stretching and bending the law to meet an emotional need. New situations arise, people suffer, but hopefully some level headed evolution of the law can deal better with similar occurrences in the future.

    That said, Lori Drew is an evil cunt.

    Instead of wallowing in how evil such people are (and I do not doubt that), why don't we instead teach young people that this is why you cannot base your life's meaning and your self-esteem on the writings of pseudononymous trolls? And then, instead of merely paying lip service to the concept, give them good examples of what it means to find those things from within by both celebrating and striving to be those strong individuals who understand this?

    That would accomplish so much more than another two minutes hate.

  • by Antidamage (1506489) * on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:48PM (#28564095) Homepage

    She had a calculated plan to drive a child to kill herself. The bitch needs to face the consequences.

  • by pnuema (523776) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:51PM (#28564137)
    Whoever modded this flamebait obviously doesn't live in St. Louis.
  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:52PM (#28564153)

    No, she shouldn't be charged with anything. Charging her with one of the above is far beyond the intent or probably the letter of the law, or are so vague that anyone could be potentially charged with those crimes. We have enough crazy catch-all laws as it is, don't validate their existence just because hang a woman that did something you don't like.

    The girl had emotional problems beyond just someone messing with her on the internet, and to be quite honest if your skin is so thin that you can't take being insulted online then you're going to have major problems somewhere down the road. I've been insulted in school far worse than what Lori Drew said, and I'd been physically assaulted in front of teachers and other authority (which I'd consider even far worse than what Lori Drew did) at around the same age that girl was. Retribution isn't going to bring anyone back from the dead, and you can't base "justice" around how someone reacts to what you do (particularly when the outcome is extreme and unforeseeable), only what you actually DO do, because we have no way of peering into a crystal ball to determine the future and that road could take us down a pretty scary place anyway.

    She should have been charged with cyberstalking, stalking, harassment, something.

    The fact that you had to end this with "something" shows that your mindset here is trying to pin something down on this woman, because you're not sure what crime she actually committed. This is a common method of how the police work, especially since we have enough laws that you can find and stretch any law to stick any American in jail, but I am personally disgusted with it. If you're not sure what crime she actually committed then it's probably safe to say that whatever she did, even if it was horrible, probably shouldn't be "a crime" and that any thing you charge her with will be stretching the law past its original intent to satiate some bloodthirsty mob or your own anger. In my opinion, if the action is not obviously a crime (murder, stealing, etc) and you're not sure what crime they may have committed (especially if you're grabbing at straws like "cyberstalking!) then one should be pretty suspicious of bringing in the entire "justice" system from the get-go.

    This is yet another manifestation of the "FOR THE CHILDREN!" mindset, except it's more subtle. Fascinating how even many slashdotters fall for it, too... The proper recourse here is socially ostracizing her.

  • by whiledo (1515553) * on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:53PM (#28564169)

    If we decide she can be imprisoned based simply on her speech, it's is not just her but we who will face the consequences.

  • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:57PM (#28564233)

    If we decide she can be imprisoned based simply on her speech, it's is not just her but we who will face the consequences.

    That's already been decided. To take the classic example, if you yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, you are responsible for the consequences.

  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:59PM (#28564265)

    Unfortunately, she needed to be charged with the right crimes. The Prosecutor thought he'd be cute by charging her with a bunch of computer crimes instead of going for boring old crimes like "harassment" or "criminal negligence causing death" or something like that. So she'll get to walk, in all likelihood.

  • by nausea_malvarma (1544887) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:59PM (#28564269)
    the freedom to say mean things, as well as good things. Lori Drew is an asshole, but last time I checked, being an asshole was not illegal. What she did was harassment, not murder.
  • by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:00PM (#28564283) Homepage

    The incompetent prosecuter screwed this one up big time

    The "incompetent prosecutor" was limited by his jurisdiction. The crime, if there was one, happened in Missouri where the prosecutors declined to bring a case. The only way the LA prosecutor could get involved was if he forwarded a theory that the crime was against MySpace.

    So, the LA prosecutor wasn't incompetent. Wrongheaded to try to bring the case at all, but not incompetent.

    As for the Missouri prosecutor... Well, you know what they say: Missouri loves company.

  • by Roane (1075393) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:02PM (#28564305)

    Sounds like they were trying to create the online equivalent of "disorderly conduct." That is, "we don't have any other crime to charge you with but we really, really don't like you, so have this generic charge instead."

    It's scarier than that; they were claiming that a TOS violation was enough to charge you under CFAA (unauthorized access, or exceeding authorized access). If that were true, being rude on a message board (that banned such behavior in its TOS) would be a criminal offense. It would be possible to charge almost any person with a crime for "hacking".

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:03PM (#28564315)

    It all worked out out in the end. Ms. Drew is freed from the predations of an overzealous prosecutor while she has to live with her reputation tarnished. For the rest of her life people will be able to read about the terrible thing she did to that poor girl and shun her for it.

  • by causality (777677) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:06PM (#28564357)

    She trolled someone to death.

    Allegedly. Prior to the original verdict, even the girl's mother confirmed the she and her daughter had argued when her daughter tried to speak to her about the supposed boy who broke her heart. It was not directly after she received the message "the world would be better off without you" when the girl hung herself, but after an argument with her mother and her mother left for work. I have no doubt that Lori Drew's actions were a contributor to the girl's behavior, but I don't believe it was the only catalyst.

    What disturbs me significantly more is that a child can have such deep and painful psychological problems without a parent, or a teacher, or a neighbor, or a peer, noticing this and doing something about it.

    It's sort of like the Columbine massacre. Those boys obtained guns and ammunition and assembled homemade bombs in their bedrooms without the parents even noticing that something wasn't right about them. If they did notice, they didn't step up to the plate and act like parents.

    Do some parents really believe that they can be so uninvolved in the lives of minor children who really need their loving guidance without something bad happening? Does some disaster or massacre really have to take place before people decide that this is a really bad idea? I bet one person who really gives a shit can accomplish what hundreds of metal detectors could never do. Usually the subject is computer security when I say things like "we as a culture do not believe in prevention, in being proactive, or in exercising foresight" but things like this are sad reminders of just how deeply ingrained this character flaw really is.

  • no. but that's "simply speech"

    well, actually, no, there is no such thing as "simply speech." there are plenty of things that you can write on the internet or issue from your mouth that should rightfully result in you being imprisoned

    such as shouting fire in a crowded theatre

    such as an adult
    1. purposefully playing with the emotions of one specific child (not general rants on the internet)
    2. a child she knows to have psychologically problems
    3. over an extended period of time
    4. directly suggesting suicide after manipulating, setting up, and torturing this child

    that's not "simply speech". not REMOTELY "simply speech"

    this is nothing like me calling gw bush a douchebag or advocating for greater acceptance of necrophilia or defending westboro baptist church or anything else that someone might object to but is obviously free speech. there are lots of free speech that are odious but not criminal

    your opinion is invalid because its too broad, and does not consider how complicated the interplay between your rights and your responsibilities are in this world

    no, you do not get automatic protection from the consequences of EVERYTHING you can possibly say

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:06PM (#28564371)
    Seriously, the charges she was convicted of were an EXTREMELY BAD precedent to set. Under that same precedent, I could put up a website, where-in, I could specify in the terms and conditions of the agreement "that everyone or everything (bots included), upon accessing the website agree to pay me $20, and must opt out of such payment by clicking on the "do not agree" button on the page within 30 days of accessing the site." And for everyone who does not pay me $20, I can have prosecuted under the same statue used in this case for "hacking" computer systems, because they have access them without my consent and against the terms and conditions of use.
  • Re:Rule of Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:09PM (#28564407) Homepage

    ...why don't we instead teach young people that this is why you cannot base your life's meaning and your self-esteem on the writings of pseudononymous trolls?

    Most of us do. As parents, we also teach them to be careful about what they post. However, young people are... well, young. And inexperienced. And not completely rational. Which is why we occasionally need to deal with older people, like Lori Drew, who should have known better.

    Either way, what's done is done. As far as I'm concerned, Lori Drew was and still is a child abuser. She knew what she was doing and intentionally went out of her way to inflict suffering on a child.

  • by JobyOne (1578377) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:15PM (#28564477) Homepage Journal
    Lori Drew is terrible, I think we all agree on that. I'd like to take issue with the word "cyber-bullying."

    What she did could be called harassment, stalking, maybe even grounds for a wrongful death suit. Had she done this by phone, or snail mail, or paper airplane she probably would have wound up under one of those anvils. Instead, just because her evil-doing happened to be done through a computer the media feels the need to refer to it by a stupid made-up word, and the prosecutor feels the need to dig into some wacky interpretation of computer hacking law.

    What's the result? This poor judge is forced to make a ruling that will make a lot of people angry, probably to the detriment of his own career, and let an evil woman go free. Guess what, he had to do this because of the shenanigans of the media and prosecution, fortunately he has the foresight to avoid setting a terrible precedent that violating ToS is "hacking."
  • by computational super (740265) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:21PM (#28564559)
    that should rightfully result in you being imprisoned such as shouting fire in a crowded theatre

    Is that really the only thing you anti-free-speech people can come up with? I mean, really... if I wanted to cause chaos and yelled "fire" in a crowded theater - assuming that people really did trample each other and get hurt, rather than just filing out in an orderly fashion or looking around, saying, "I don't see a fire. Where? What fire?" and then going back to their movie - I could always claim that I saw a fire, sorry about all that, don't know what happened to the fire...

  • Re:HMMM? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:25PM (#28564627)
    Oh please. A 13 yo girl, talking to what she thought was a boy who she knew and liked her. Not anonymous, and not 'validation'.

    Teen girls are bags of hormones. Not surprising that one could be pushed over the edge. Especially by a devious, malicious, adult.

    Hell yes the family should have been more involved in her life. But Lori Drew should not have been involved at all.
    Who sought out whom?
  • Re:Rule of Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:27PM (#28564653)

    Most of us do. As parents, we also teach them to be careful about what they post. However, young people are... well, young. And inexperienced. And not completely rational.

    The problem is many parents pay lip service to the concept of finding meaning and strength within, and then they give many subtle indications that what the neighbors think or whether they have a bigger house, a fancier car, more frivolous luxuries, or a higher paying job than someone else is important to them. The single biggest weakness of most (otherwise decent, normal) parents is that they think they can hide their hypocrisy from their children. The children see it, even if they don't really want to. They might get scolded, or called ungrateful, or otherwise intimidated (i.e. bullied) into not saying that they see it, but they do see it. The reason why you don't bully your children this way is because it establishes a pattern that ensures they grow up to be subject to bullies all their lives. If you've ever known people who were just complete pushovers and never stood up for themselves, this is how they got to be that way.

  • over an extended period of time, i send to your email address explicit detailed accounts of how i am going to brutally murder you. i do this for months on end. i show you i know where you live on a map, i send you pictures of you getting in and out of your car, i send you pictures of your family

    is that protected speech in your mind?

    of course not, its stalking and harassment, and deserves to be punished

    but all i did was communicate with you over the internet. its protected speech, right? bullshit

    not all speech is protected. please understand that. what this woman did is like stalking and harassment cubed: it was pointed at a MINOR, a minor she KNEW had psychological problems, it lasted over an extended period of time, it involved lies, manipulation, setting someone up for a fall, suggestions of suicide

    this is not shouting angry warped words at anyone in general or anonymous people you don't reallty know. thats free speech. but this is specific to one person, a crafted, tailored and dedicated long-term attempt at psychologically torturing a specific person, a minor, a minor with psychological problems the woman KNEW about

    no, that's way, way, way beyond free speech, and it is criminal

    the legal strategy the prosecuters used to try to punish this woman is retarded. i don't know why they just didn't go with some sort of laws pertaining to the psychological abuse of a minor

  • Re:HMMM? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:35PM (#28564767)

    Your points are valid, but you still missed the fact that she never met this "boy" in real life (aka IRL). Therefore, it was still anonymous. I grew up with computers much like she, and anyone rational in their life wouldn't ever make life changing decisions based on someone they never met in real life. I don't care if I thought the guy was the president incognito talking to me: if he told me to jump off of a bridge, I would want to meet the president first.

  • by Flea of Pain (1577213) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:37PM (#28564785)
    Actually, I think you should say the competent prosecuter tried to get the only charge he had a hope in hell of establishing. Lori didn't create the profile, and didn't post the abusive messages. This would be the equivalent of me charging you for harassment for helping a family member set up their facebook page which they then abuse. The prosecuter clearly understood these things and went for the only charge that had a chance of sticking.
  • by moxley (895517) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @05:46PM (#28564939)

    The prosecution of this woman for bogus charges was ridiculous.

    Yes, she was cruel, but:

    1. Violating a website's TOS is not illegal;
    2. She was not responsible for the girl's suicide, that is why it was a suicide and not a murder;
    3. Abusing the legal system to punish someone who has done something extremely unpopular with the masses by either trumping up charges or using ridiculous interpretations which are byond novel should be a criminal offense if anything should be;
    4. The authoritarian leaning people in government and industry in this country hoped to be able to use this case and the bogus charges to set precedents that would have left pretty much all of us who use the net regularly at risk for all kinds of shit.

    I just read a post where someone referred to one of the scumbags who was teasing this girl as "the killer." If that doesn't illustrate that people have a poor and overly emotional "TV cop show" understanding of the law and ethics, then I don't know what will.

    I hope we don't see this judge bow to the inevitable pressure that will be heaped upon him by the scores of people thirsting for vengeance after they hear about this ruling - there are TONS of injustices that are far worse than what that bitch and her nutty kid did to this poor girl, some of which may make life harder or more miserable for already suffering people - who may then commit suicide...Where is the outrage for them?

    These outraged people would better spend their time donating money to suicide prevention programs or volunteering for suicide helplines; but hey, there's no voyeuristic sick venegeance pleasure to be gained by doing so....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:12PM (#28565271)

    I was fully expecting this to fall into the "hard cases make really awful law" pile.

    And instead fell into the "hard cases that the courts don't want to deal with so they get dismissed/acquitted pile". While the law that was to come from this would have been incredibly stupid, and this should be dismissed to keep that from happening, she still should be facing more appropriate charges. Her actions were incredibly egregious and did lead directly to damages (Even if there were other factors, those don't invalidate her actions), and those two things really are core to the spirit of the law. This all reminds me of a quote (Churchill I believe), "If we follow the letter of the law, and not the spirit of it, all justice is lost". Even if we can't find a law worded exactly to apply to a case like this, it doesn't change the fact the someone with at least some degree of common sense can tell her actions were wrong and would likely agree that she shouldn't get away with this.

    Again, in case it wasn't clear, I am quite happy that no law came from this.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:15PM (#28565297) Homepage Journal

    So, over an extended period of time, I receieve emails that indicate that my penis is too small, and eventually, this harassment leads me to commit suicide. So now that spammer is guily of murder?

    Just remember that we're living in a country that wants to ban Tylenol because some people damage their livers. Just try and imagine what kind of censorship we're going to have if this type of Lori Drew thing gets treated as a real crime.

    We're living in a nation of a lot of stupid laws, where a nanny-state wants to control everything about our lives. Big-Brother couldn't have come up with anything better, George Orwell would be aghast that his warnings have gone unheeded.

    So go ahead, put Lori Drew in jail for writing some emails. Next, we'll be burning you for what's written in your diary. Good luck with that. Anyone here with a blog? Not any more.

  • exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:29PM (#28565439) Homepage Journal

    its all about the consequences of your actions, cause and effect. free speech or not free speech is really just a sideshow to the real issue: responsibility

    people are always clamoring for their rights... and promptly shut up when the subject matter of their responsibilities comes up. guess what folks? if no one takes responsibility, there are no rights in this world. rights and responsibilities are fused at the hip. for every right you are granted, you are also, implicitly or explicitly, describing a responsibility you take ownership of as well

    explicit right: freedom of speech. implicit, unmentioned responsibility: you are responsible for the consequences of what you say. nothing protects you from that reponsibility. nothing. well, something DOES protect you from that responsibility... in a society that has no right to freedom of speech at all. if you have no rights, you also have no responsibilities. so exercise your fucking responsibilities in this world if you want to retain your precious rights

    if you avoid responsibility, you weaken the entire right to freedom of speech, as you have demonstrated that you, at least, are incapable of maintaining the social environment in which your rights work. if you do not exercise your responsibilities, you add fuel to the argument that you don't deserve the rights you cherish. no, we all deserve the right to free speech, we just need a big wake the fuck up to the morons who don't know that freedom of speech carries with it a burden: responsibility for the consequences of what you say

    if someone says gw bush is a douchebag, a zealot would say that terrorists gain support when this kind of dissent is demonstrated, and therefore, this kind of speech should be censored. which is of course completely bullshit cause and effect. the holes in that "logic" are like swiss cheese

    but if someone picks on 1. one specific 2. mentally unstable 3. minor for 4. months on end, a clueless "free speech defender" would say what the woman did has nothing to do with the teenager's suicide, and therefore the woman shouldn't be punished. fucking bullshit. the woman psychologically tortured and harassed the poor girl to death. the cause and effect is obvious and real

    avoid responsibility, and you erode your rights. remember that

  • by a whoabot (706122) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:33PM (#28565487)

    Was Megan Meier's death a suicide? I would answer yes because that is what all the news reports say.
    Are any suicides accidental deaths? I would answer no because I believe intentionality is an essential part of a death being a suicide.
    Are all deaths caused by criminal negligence accidental? I would answer yes, because if they were not accidental then they would be intentional, and then the guilty individual or individuals would rather be guilty of murder and not negligence.

    But now I think I've ran into the problem for your idea that Meier's death was caused by criminal negligence. Given that her death was a suicide, and given that no suicides are accidental, we can conclude that her death was not accidental. But it also seems that all deaths caused by criminal negligence are accidental. So, based on that, if her death was caused by criminal negligence, then her death was accidental. But her death was not accidental, so it seems safe to conclude that her death was not caused by criminal negligence.

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:34PM (#28565493) Homepage

    Then charge her for that. They basically decided to make up some bullshit about unauthorized access to a computer system and charge her with that.

    The difficulty here is that killing oneself is generally considered to be an irrational action, and therefore it defies a typical causal relationship. Should this woman have known that her actions would cause the girl to commit suicide? Personally, I wouldn't think that anything I could do would make anyone else kill themselves. We've all acted cruelly to others, and had others act cruelly towards us, but still, most of us don't kill ourselves (and presumably nobody reading this has killed themselves). And when others do kill themselves, e.g. because a relationship ended, we're all quick to point out that it wasn't the fault of the other person. We acknowledge that the suicide victim had deeper issues and behaved abnormally to normal events.

    It's hard to say what the case is here. Clearly adults should be held more responsible for their behavior toward minors, the same way they are for sexual assault, or providing substances to minors. The same should probably apply for harassment as well. If there's not already a law for this, then we can make one. But our goal should be to fix the problem(s), not to find vengeance. Vengeance is not a solution, and the respite it brings is virtually inconsequential. Nobody ever says that everything is better after a murderer is executed -- the healing process continues in the same way, as it must, whether they're executed, locked away for life, or escape to some third world country. It does bring a sense of order, in that people suffer the consequences of their actions, but that sense is only illusory anyway. Bad things happen to good people, just as good things can happen to bad people, and it's just something we have to accept at times. And when there's no law in place to punish certain actions, that's one of those times. The potential damages of writing laws that are effective retroactively far outweighs any benefit or solace we might find in "setting things right," particularly because it's not setting things right when we have to compromise our values in the process. In effect, we as a society bear some of the responsibility here for not having clearly defined such behavior to be off limits in the first place.

  • by DM9290 (797337) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:51PM (#28565679) Journal

    this case is like trying to prosecute someone for yelling "fire", on the basis that they threw away their ticket stub instead of keeping it with them at all times as clearly printed on the ticket.

    If it raising a false alarm is a crime, prosecute raising a false alarm, don't try to pretend failing to keep your ticket stub on you is illegal.
    If raising a false alarm is not a crime, tough cookies. Fix the law, and move on.

    "Cyber bullying" was not a crime.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:57PM (#28565745)

    Except if she moves and changes her name in 6 months or so.

  • by Draek (916851) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:14PM (#28565911)

    no, you do not get automatic protection from the consequences of EVERYTHING you can possibly say

    You don't, but you should. No, I'm not an anarchist or even a libertarian, but the fact that there are things you can't say for fear of prison disgusts me *far* more than having this woman go free. And if a yell of "fire" in a theatre causes a stampede then I'm damn well blaming the crowd on that one, regardless of whether there was an actual fire or not.

  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:27PM (#28566065)

    But now I think I've ran into the problem for your idea that Meier's death was caused by criminal negligence. Given that her death was a suicide, and given that no suicides are accidental, we can conclude that her death was not accidental. But it also seems that all deaths caused by criminal negligence are accidental. So, based on that, if her death was caused by criminal negligence, then her death was accidental. But her death was not accidental, so it seems safe to conclude that her death was not caused by criminal negligence.

    This is all symantic quibble. You can tip a glass without attempting to knock it over. If it falls over and breaks, it's you're fault - whether it was your intention or not, you are responsible for it breaking. If this woman harassed this teen, intentionally causing emotional distress, and that becomes the primary factor of the teen's emotional breakdown-leading-to-suicide, then the teen's blood is on this woman's hands, and she is guilty or murder or manslaughter. Murder, if she intended the teen to kill herself, or manslaughter if she intended to have someone stop the teen before the emotional distress so violently manifested itself (a therapist, teacher, parent). It was her negligence to stop the consequences of her own hideous, wretched, horrific actions that caused the girl's death. Criminal negligence is the lightest sentence that justice should present to this monster.

  • Re:HMMM? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:33PM (#28566111)
    Causality's garbage, reactionary post gets modded insightful while amouth's perfectly reasonable post is modded troll? I'm posting this anonymously cuz I don't wanna burn modpoints as some bullied coward decides to take out his childhood rage on my karma.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:40PM (#28566197)

    There was no *criminal* law against what Lori Drew did. However, she can, and will, be sued into oblivion in *civil* court.

    Before the government can punish you criminally, it has to enact a law that declares that act unlawful. Remember upskirting? That was perfectly legal in many states, because there was no law that applied to videotaping someone in public. Then laws were passed.

    If the First Amendment applied to her speech, then it could not be made illegal. That is very different from something that *could* be made illegal (i.e. what Drew did) if the legislature chooses, but has not *yet* been made a criminal act.

    This is the problem the judge faced in the Drew case... you can't have public outcry for blood be used to twist a criminal law in order to find *something* to find her guilty of. The same thing happened with upskirting and many other immoral acts, that were not illegal until someone got away with it and a law was passed to address future acts.

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:58PM (#28566385)

    I believe in the government not encroaching on the rights I am supposed to have.

    It's not a convenient way to do anything.

    I'd wager the restriction of speech and the erosion of people's right in this country has done far more to "create more suffering" than anything I have or ever will do.

  • "I believe in the government not encroaching on the rights I am supposed to have."

    this is an empty phrase. everyone agrees with that. the problem is: what are these rights you are supposed to have?

    for example, if you yell fire in a crowded theatre, you are pitting your right to say whatever you want versus someone else's right to live. in this instance, their right is more important than your right, so your right is naturally and logically limited by reality

    in reality, your rights exist in tension with other people's rights

    i exert the right to blast all the music i want. well what if its 2 am and my neighbor is trying to sleep? then i need to give up my "right"

    there are limits on your rights. those limits are simple: your rights end where other people's rights begin

  • if i send you a rant saying you should kill yourself, and you do, my culpability is near zero because i don't know who you are, how old you are, what your mental state is, etc. i'm just an asshole

    but this woman knew this girl. she knew she was a girl, she knew her mental state was unstable. she purposefully manipulated her and purposefully told her to kill herself after a long sustained period of purposeful manipulation

    so when the woman acted, she acted with specific knowledge that if she manipulated the girl with a fake profile of a fake boy to get her interested, then suddenly switched it up as cruel as possible so as to cause the most mental trauma possible and said no boy would ever like her and she should just kill herself, this is pretty much murder because she KNOWS this kind of abuse has a good chance of actually making the girl kill herself

    allegory: if you find a random person and scare them with a big BOO in the dark, and they die of a heart attack, you're an asshole, but not a murderer

    however, if you KNOW the person you are going to scare and you KNOW they have a serious heart condition that a fright could push them into cardiac arrest... and you STILL scare them with a big boo in the dark and they die, then you are as a good as a murderer

    see the difference?

    if i drop rocks over a cliff randomly in the dark, in the middle of nowhere, and one kills a hiker, i'm pretty much innocent because i had no idea that would happen, and no one would expect me to know that would happen in the middle of nowhere

    but if i look carefully for a hiker at the bottom of a cliff in broad daylight, and carefully aim the rock to hit the hiker, i'm a murdering piece of shit

    that's the difference between free speech and what lori drew did

  • by torkus (1133985) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @08:41PM (#28566783)

    I would have to disagree. What was done to this child was *not nice* but being a big fat meanie-head isn't illegal.

    In the end, you are responsible for your own actions. If someone tells me that microshaft stock is going through the roof tomorrow and i buy in big only to see them tank...well too bad, so sad. There are, of course, exceptions for someone you employ who intentionally gives you known wrong information - but in that case you have a contractual agreement (verbal, virtual, or on paper) that they are violating.

    If you want to criminalize lying or making someone feel bad I suggest you go lobby for yet another unenforcible law that will make the non-sheeple shake their heads.

    I don't like what she did - it was a terrible thing to do - but I support a person's right to saw what they want no matter how much i disagree with it.

  • Re:thank you (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TrekkieGod (627867) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @08:53PM (#28566869) Homepage Journal

    if you would like to actually write down some words that involve logical reasoning, rather than baseless hysteria, then at that point i would be interested in responding to you

    Then let me give it a try.

    over an extended period of time, i send to your email address explicit detailed accounts of how i am going to brutally murder you. i do this for months on end. i show you i know where you live on a map, i send you pictures of you getting in and out of your car, i send you pictures of your family

    That problem with that type of harassment is the threat of physical violence. I'm not afraid of the e-mails, I'm afraid of the fact that you actually do know where I live, you know who my family is, and you appear to be nuts enough to actually carry out your threat. If you keep posting to me on slashdot that you're going to kill me without giving any indication that you actually have the means to do so, I won't feel threatened, and yes, it should be protected speech because it's not a credible threat.

    The girl in question wasn't receiving threats to her life. She was receiving insults. The world isn't a nice place. What Lori Drew said to her online pretending to be her "online boyfriend" are things that can actually be said from a real boyfriend during a bad breakup. Would the guy be a world class jerk? Sure. Is the guy guilty of a crime if his insinuations that his ex is worthless and should kill herself actually causes her to kill herself? No. I went through my share of bullying when I was a kid in school. Megan apparently did her share of bullying when she was in school. Would you have wanted her to be guilty of murder had Lori Drew's kid committed suicide instead?

    In the end, committing suicide is a choice. McDonalds advertisement isn't at fault if it convinces you to overeat and become obese. Budweiser isn't at a fault if their ads cause you to become an alcoholic. Nobody is responsible for your death unless they actually physically caused it. Talking you into it is advice, but you can always say no. Yes, this girl was psychologically disturbed, but that's all the more reason why Lori Drew wasn't at fault. Megan's psychological problems were at fault.

    Yes, I understand that the idea of an adult bullying a teenager is insane. Reprehensible doesn't cover it. Drew is an immature bitch, but that's not illegal, nor should it be.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:05PM (#28566957) Journal

    Another teenager testified at Lori Drew's trial that she (the other teenager) had also had access to the account and had written the final messages.

    Another teenager testified under a grant of immunity.
    How convienent.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:18PM (#28567071) Journal

    I would have to disagree. What was done to this child was *not nice* but being a big fat meanie-head isn't illegal.

    No, being a "big, fat, meanie" is not illegal. Tormenting underage girls when you are an adult IS illegal.

    Not that it would matter if she did this to my little girl. She would be hoping the law was there when I got a hold of her.

  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:23PM (#28567099)

    That's because a similar situation without a computer would have been manslaughter. (Homicide without intent.)

    Being rude and offensive is not manslaughter.

    The daughter was mentally ill and apparently suicidal; it was her parents' responsibility to keep her out of situations that would trigger a suicide.

  • If tormenting children is against the law, then why wasn't she charged with that, instead of a "unauthorized access of a computer system" (breaking a EULA).

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:41PM (#28567289) Journal

    If tormenting children is against the law, then why wasn't she charged with that, instead of a "unauthorized access of a computer system" (breaking a EULA).

    IANAL, but I see old men getting arrested several times a week on "To Catch a Predator" who never touched a soul and the jail bait they were supposedly talking to was not even true jailbait, but an undercover person (not even an officer) acting like jailbait. This woman, an adult, had a relationship with a child, a real child, assaulted her causing emotional distress and eventually contributing to the child's death. If I were the lawyer, I would have gone after her for pedophilia and assault on a minor (doesn't have to be physical) at the VERY least. In civil court, I would have gone after everything. I would have owned that bitch's grandkids!

    So, like I said, IANAL, but whoever the lawyer was in this case was a friggin moron for not finding better charges to go after. Well, I guess he wasn't that bad since he won the first round. Who knew he'd get a bigger moron of a judge in the appeals court!!??!

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:43PM (#28567305) Journal

    No, being a "big, fat, meanie" is not illegal. Tormenting underage girls when you are an adult IS illegal.

    Well, apparently not, because she wasn't even charged with that.

    And what exactly would that even mean? How do you define "tormenting"? Drew's behavior doesn't even meet the standard of "harassment" or "spam", since the communications were engaged in voluntarily on both sides, and both Meier and her parents could have stopped them whenever they chose.

    The conversations were under false pretenses. Saying that it doesn't meet the standard for "spam" is rediculous. If you are approached on MySpace, FaceBook or whatever site this happened on by a Nigerian Scammer, do you mean to tell me that they are acting legally?

    She acted like a teenage boy with the intent of having a relationship with an underage girl. I see men get arrested weekly on "To Catch a Predator" that do much less than that.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:44PM (#28567307) Journal

    Imagine this if you will,

    Suppose you are driving your car down the road and I swerve to the right, then back to the left as if I was going to ram into you. I stay in my lane but you react and swerve to avoid me and hit a pedestrian killing them. Am I at fault at all? I didn't break any laws, the pedestrian is dead by you hands, not mine. Now suppose this has happened before and I was actually attempting to make people swerve into pedestrians. Am I still innocent, I haven't broken any laws.

    Now think about that, then think about if I should be charged with anything. How about after the first time? what about the third time? what if I was able to do this 25 times each time resulting in the death of some pedestrian at the hands of 25 different seemingly innocent drivers. Now if you changed your mind and think something should happen to me after 10 people die, then why and how would that be different then attempting to manipulate someone into committing suicide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:42AM (#28568931)

    It all worked out out in the end. Ms. Drew is freed from the predations of an overzealous prosecutor while she has to live with her reputation tarnished. For the rest of her life people will be able to read about the terrible thing she did to that poor girl and shun her for it.

    Nope. The overwhelming majority of people who read about Lori Drew probably forgot her name within minutes of having read about her. She simply became "that woman who made that girl kill herself," and even that memory probably quickly faded. There will be no tarnished reputation.

    People who've done far, FAR worse things than Lori have already been forgotten. For instance, a few months ago, I read a report about a guy who broke into a family's home, killed all the adults with a claw hammer, then took the two kids out into the woods and spent the next several weeks raping them. Near the end of the ordeal, he shot the boy in the abdomen and let him die that way. His sister "got to" watch the whole thing.

    Anyone still remember the name of that guy? Didn't think so.

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:48AM (#28569431)

    -Yes. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". Someone should have asked the judge if was familiar with that saying. Someone should rub his face in his own ignorance. MySpace *DOES* give sufficient notice, and you have to make the conscious effort to click a small box stating affirming that you agree. Wheather or not someone actually reads the whole thing is the responsibility of the user, NOT the provider.

    Ehmm, if you don't mind I'm not going to treat stuff like the myspace TOS or the Windows EULA on the same level as written law...

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:42AM (#28570523) Homepage Journal

    I would have to disagree. What was done to this child was *not nice* but being a big fat meanie-head isn't illegal."

    Yes it is. It's called 'Harassment". Look it up.

    I did. It doesn't contain the words "fat" or "meanie".

    If it did - and assuming that the prosecutors are a little more knowledgable about the law than a random intarweb blowhard - one assumes she would have been charged with it.

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