MySpace Mom Indicted by Federal Grand Jury

From the AP:

"A Los Angeles federal grand jury has indicted a Missouri woman for her alleged role in a MySpace online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide.

"Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis was indicted today on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress."

Drew helped create a fake MySpace persona, that of the handsome Josh Evans, to woo a neighbor girl, Megan Meier. After a few weeks, "Josh" turned on Megan, telling her the world would be a better place without her. Megan hanged herself.

Blogger takes on Lori Drew
Lori Drew's lawyer checks in



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

This is an interesting case to follow.

My question is what qualifies as accessing protected computers. If this was done on Lori Drew's home PC I don't get that part unless they mean data mining with the intent to find something harmful. Anybody that can explain?

Sent by Thomas | 3:53 PM | 5-15-2008

Read The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. You will find the definition of "protected computers" there. It refers to computers used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication.

Sent by Shugarfoot | 12:20 AM | 5-16-2008

More silliness. Something bad happens, so someone must be punished by law. The woman is scum, and deserves every measure of shunning and social punishment. But send her to jail? Why not send the girl's parents to jail for not monitoring her internet use? For not raising her in such a way that she would come to them with her teenage Angst? If breaking up with someone (here, a virtual "person" breaking up with a MySpace "girlfriend") makes someone legally liable for a suicide, we're in trouble.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 5:35 AM | 5-16-2008

My understanding is that the protected computers in question are MySpace servers. She created the account and violated the terms of service, using the persona to extract personal info from Megan, by way of those servers.

Sent by andy carvin, npr | 9:34 AM | 5-16-2008

"For not raising her in such a way that she would come to them with her teenage Angst?"

This is more than 'angst' as you've dismissively put it. I'm assuming you've never gotten near that ledge, but it's very personal and private when you do. Not a lot of people want to talk about the fact that they're potentially thinking about killing themselves, no matter how they are raised.

Sent by Leigh Cutler | 9:48 AM | 5-16-2008

Yep, the indictment is referring to MySpace servers. Check out the FBI press release for more info.

Sent by andy carvin, npr | 4:35 PM | 5-16-2008


If the girl was in so much mental anguish, then it's very hard to attribute her suicide to this MySpace stunt. Maybe it was her argument with her mother about her use of MySpace that "pushed her over the edge".

In any case, making violation of a websites's terms of use a crime is just so far over the top that it's scary. What are NPR's terms of use? If you've provided a false email address for your posts, should you be sent to jail? If your name happens to be something other than "Leigh Cutler", you need to be sent to federal prison for several years:

"You may not post, upload or transmit any messages or materials anonymously or under a false name or a false e-mail address."

Sent by Marc Naimark | 4:07 AM | 5-17-2008