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Lori Drew guilty in MySpace bully trial

Suicide sparked by online abuse

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The woman accused of using MySpace to bully a vulnerable teenage girl who subsequently killed herself has been found guilty of three charges.

The case was heard in Los Angeles because that is where the MySpace servers are.

Lori Drew created a fake MySpace profile in the name of Josh Evans. She used the persona to flirt with a thirteen year old girl called Megan Meier, who her daughter had previously fallen out with.

After weeks of flirting Drew then sent her message which said: "You’re a shitty person, and the world would be a better place without you in it." Hours later Meier hung herself in her bedroom.

Local police in Missouri would not charge Drew and the LA prosecutor has been accused of grandstanding. The charges were downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors - three counts of accessing a computer without authorization - but Drew could still face jail, the New York Times reports.

The case has split legal observers with some welcoming extension of the use of the Computer Fraud Act to social networking sites. But Matthew L Levine, a defense lawyer in New York, told the NYT: “As a result of the prosecutor’s highly aggressive, if not unlawful, legal theory, it is now a crime to ‘obtain information’ from a website in violation of its terms of service. This cannot be what Congress meant when it enacted the law, but now you have it.” MySpace T&Cs oblige users to be truthful in information they post.

Tina Meier welcomed the verdict and said she hoped Drew got a prison sentence. ®

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