United States Attorney Thomas
Central District of California
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Thom Mrozek
THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2008
PHONE: (213) 894-6947
MISSOURI WOMAN INDICTED ON CHARGES OF USING
TO 'CYBER-BULLY' 13-YEAR-OLD WHO LATER COMMITTED
LOS ANGELES A Missouri woman was indicted today on federal charges for
fraudulently using an account on the social networking Web site MySpace,
U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas P. O'Brien
announced today. The woman posed as a teenage boy who feigned romantic
interest in a 13 year-old girl, who later committed suicide after the "boy"
spurned her and told her, among other things, that the world would be a
better place without her.
Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Mo., was named in a four-count indictment returned
this morning by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges one
count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without
authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on the
girl who, because of juvenile privacy rules, is referred to in the indictment
only as M.T.M.
The indictment alleges that Drew, along with others, registered as a member
of MySpace under the name "Josh Evans." Drew and her co-conspirators
then used the Josh Evans account to contact M.T.M. and began what the girl
believed was an on-line romance with a 16-year-old boy. In taking
those actions, the indictment alleges, Drew and her co-conspirators violated
MySpace's terms of service that prohibit users from, among other things,
using fraudulent registration information, using accounts to obtain personal
information about juvenile members, and using the MySpace communication
services to harass, abuse or harm other members.
After approximately four weeks of flirtatious communications between "Josh
Evans" and M.T.M., Drew and her co-conspirators broke off the relationship.
Within an hour, M.T.M. had hanged herself in her room. She died the
"This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage
girl, with horrendous ramifications," said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien.
"After a thorough investigation, we have charged Ms. Drew with criminally
accessing MySpace and violating rules established to protect young, vulnerable
people. Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering Web
site to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl,
needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences."
To become a member of MySpace, individuals are required to submit registration
information including name and date of birth and have to agree to certain
terms of service that regulate their use of the Web site. Among other
things, MySpace terms of service require prospective members to provide
truthful and accurate registration information; to refrain from using any
information obtained from MySpace services to harass, abuse or harm other
people; to refrain from soliciting personal information from anyone under
18; to refrain from promoting information that they know is false or misleading;
and to refrain from posting photographs of other people without their consent.
The indictment alleges that Drew and her co-conspirators violated all of
"Whether we characterize this tragic case as 'cyber-bullying,' cyber abuse
or illegal computer access, it should serve as a reminder that our children
use the Internet for social interaction and that technology has altered
the way they conduct their daily activities," said Salvador Hernandez,
Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. "As adults,
we must be sensitive to the potential dangers posed by the use of the Internet
by our children."
The conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years
in federal prison. Each count of accessing protected computers, each
of which alleges that the access was for the purpose of intentionally inflicting
emotional distress on M.T.M., carries a maximum possible penalty of five
years in prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.
Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Drew will be summoned to appear for an arraignment in U.S. District Court
in Los Angeles in June.
This case was investigated by special agents with the FBI in St. Louis
and Los Angeles.