A Missouri woman accused of contributing to a teenager's suicide by creating a fake MySpace account to taunt the girl pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday, according to Reuters and other media sources.
After she was implicated in the hoax aimed at harassing a teenage neighbor, Lori Drew of the St. Louis area was charged with conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress.
The case captured the attention of the blogosphere and the world.
The story first broke in Drew's hometown paper, the St. Charles Journal, a year after the October 2006 death of 13-year-old Megan Meier.
It was a twisted tale of an adolescent girl who was tricked into believing a boy she met on MySpace was her boyfriend and was then crushed when he turned on her. The article said that one night comments by "Josh Evans" became increasingly cruel, and his statement to Meier that "the world would be a better place" without her may have led to her suicide that evening.
Prosecutors say Drew was behind the fictional MySpace account, which she created to find out what Meier was saying about her daughter. The girls had experienced a recent falling-out. Drew was a family friend of the Meiers' and was aware of the teenager's battle with depression, according to reports.
When the story hit national airwaves, angry bloggers got involved, outing Drew's name, address, and phone number on the Internet. While the online community fought their battle against Drew, Missouri prosecutors discovered there was no state law that applied to the case.
Now, state and federal legislatures are working to make so-called cyberbullying a crime. Although state laws didn't apply, Drew was indicted by a federal grand jury in May, months after MySpace and other witnesses were subpoenaed.
Drew will stand trial on July 26, and if convicted, could face up to 20 years in prison.