Wednesday, 19 Nov, 2008 Offbeat

Online Bullying Case to Begin in US


A woman, who registered on MySpace as a boy, will face trial after she bullied a girl who later committed suicide. The jury selection is on its way. The 49-year-old Lori Drew pretended to be a boy named Josh Evans. She made friends with 13-year-old Megan Meier and after the woman broke off the "friendship" by writing a number of offensive words, the girl hanged herself.

The girl was a neighbor of Ms Drew, living in St Louis and a friend of the woman's daughter. She committed suicide in October 2006. It is believed that the girl hanged herself after receiving a number of cruel messages from the fake 16-year-old boy. One of the messages Drew wrote to the girl said that the world would be better off without her.

According to prosecutors, Drew and a number of other individuals decided to register a fake profile on MySpace after a fight she had with Meier. The charges Ms Drew faces are most often used against computer hackers, i.e. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The reason why these charges were stated is because prosecutors could not come across any laws within the state of Missouri that could be applied, reports BBC.

Drew could be sentenced to 20 years in case she is found guilty on each of the four counts. It is important to note that she is not being charged over the girl's death. At first District Judge George Wu decided not to take into consideration the evidence of the suicide in order to shun from the defense case. However, he dismissed the idea, considering the jurors would most probably know the details of the case.

The lawyers of Ms Drew are concerned with the fact that jury would confuse the issues and come up with the conclusion that the case is about the death of a young girl. "The jury is going to end up thinking that Lori Drew is being tried for the death of Megan Meier," said Dean Steward.

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