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Woman cleared in MySpace cyberbullying case

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Thursday tentatively threw out the convictions of a Missouri mother for her role in a MySpace hoax directed at a 13-year-old neighbor girl who ended up committing suicide.

U.S. District Judge George Wu said he was acquitting Lori Drew of misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization, but stressed the ruling was tentative until he issues it in writing.

Drew was convicted in November, but the judge said that if she is to be found guilty of illegally accessing computers, anyone who has ever violated the site's terms of service would be guilty of a misdemeanor. That would be unconstitutional, he said.

Prosecutors had sought the maximum three-year prison sentence and a $300,000 fine, but it had been uncertain going into Thursday's hearing whether Drew would be sentenced.

The parents of Megan Meier, the teenager who killed herself, were in court for the ruling. Her mother, Tina Meier, said that she felt that justice was done because "we got the word out."

The case was the nation's first cyber-bullying trial. The trial was held in Los Angeles because MySpace servers are in the area.

Prosecutors say Drew sought to humiliate Megan by helping create a fictitious teen boy on the site and sending flirtatious messages to the girl in his name. The fake boy then dumped Megan in a message saying the world would be better without her.

She hanged herself a short time later in October 2006 in Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

Woman cleared in MySpace cyberbullying case 07/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 2, 2009 9:48pm]
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