November 27, 2008
Los Angeles, California (The Weekly Vice) -- Lori Drew, a 49-year-old Missouri woman who drew nationwide outrage after using a fake MySpace account to bully 13-year-old Megan Meier to the point of suicide has been found guilty.
For background on this story, please catch up here and here and here.
For those of you who have followed The Weekly Vice from it's humble beginnings, you know why this is a big day. The Weekly Vice was founded on this case back in November of 2007. This case is where it all started for us.
It's been a little over two years now since 13-year-old Megan Meier hung herself in her closet, following the horrific blows delivered to her by an adult who used the Internet to lure, seduce and then destroy the fragile and depressed teen.
When the story broke, the media hid Lori Drew's identity - as the teens parents pleaded with Missouri Officials to seek justice for their dead daughter. That justice never came from the county prosecutor Jack Banas, who hid under his desk - convinced "no law" could be used to prosecute Lori Drew's actions.
Banas sent a clear message to the nation. Throw a cigarette butt out the window of your car and you're breaking the law. Stalk a child to death via the Internet and you will not be charged with any crime.
This blog, as well as a handful of others bypassed the media's cloak of secrecy and unmasked the adult who's bullying drove this young teen to her death. While media and prosecutors sought to quell the details, the blogosphere charged ahead - intent on reporting the crime and finding justice for Megan.
More bloggers began to cover the case - creating a fever pitch outrage that finally forced the media to start reporting the facts, instead of covering them up.
For many in the media, it was the first realization that journalists and news editors could no longer decide for themselves what the public needed to know. They could no longer protect someone who had mentally and verbally abused a child. They could no longer decide what was news and what wasn't.
While the heinous acts of this adult became known across the nation and indeed even the world, justice seemed to escape Megan Meier - as it became apparent prosecutors weren't going to prosecute the case. Bloggers uncovered Lori Drew's ties to community organizations - which made the lack of prosecution in the case all the more suspect.
Back in May, 2008, a federal grand jury defied Missouri official's refusal to prosecute the case - by indicting Lori Drew on charges of fraudulently using an account on MySpace. The charges included one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.
Finally, someone had the balls to FIND a law to fit the case. Someone finally figured out how to tell Lori Drew that what she did was wrong. Justice was coming, from California of all places!
Well now the verdict is in.
While jurors could not agree on the 4 charges brought by the federal indictment, they did find Lori Drew guilty of three misdemeanor offenses - Accessing computers without authorization.
This is not the victory we had hoped for, however we believe it's justice in this respect. No longer will this adult walk away - completely unpunished for her actions.
Lori Drew now faces up to 3 years in jail. We'll predict right now that she won't see quite that much time behind bars. But remember, Lori Drew has been living in a prison of shame, that will last longer than a mere three year sentence. She's an outcast of society and will likely forever remain an outcast.
For this reason, we don't believe jail time is the victory here. The victory is in the message that has finally been sent. An adult cannot hurt, stalk, harass, bully or seduce a child online and then simply walk away.
In closing, we would like to point what we believe to be the most incredible paradox of this case..
If Missouri prosecutors had charged Lori Drew with even a small infraction...... or if the media had reported the facts, instead of covering them up.... this would have been an entirely different case.
Lori Drew would have likely remained hidden in obscurity among the other crime stories that the media churns out day after day. She would likely have already served her time or paid the imposed fine. She could have moved to a new community and started over - leaving Megan Meier in her dust.
It was the very lack of justice - that in the end, brought Megan Meier the ultimate justice. The adult who bullied her to the brink of death will now live her life in chains far worse than metal bars.
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Posted by Danny Vice at 7:57:00 PM