June 16, 2008

Woman Pleads Not Guilty in MySpace Case

The 49-year-old Missouri woman accused of using a fake MySpace profile to harass a 13-year-old girl who killed herself pleaded not guilty Monday in Los Angeles.

Lori Drew entered her plea in federal court to charges of felony conspiracy and three counts of illegally accessing MySpace computers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., who struggled with depression, hung herself in her bedroom Oct. 16, 2006, after receiving the message: The world would be a better place without you.

Authorities say Megan believed the message was from Josh Evans, a 16-year-old boy with whom she'd developed an online relationship, but the boy was a creation of Drew and others designed to find out what Megan was saying about Drew's daughter, a former friend of Megan.

U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien alleges the St. Louis-area woman and others violated MySpace's rules and terms of service by using false information to set up the Josh account.

The indictments were handed down by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles after the case had been rejected by local and federal prosecutors in the St. Louis area.

O'Brien filed the charges in Los Angeles because MySpace and its computer servers are located there.