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Police probe possible hoax on woman vilified for MySpace posts

By The Associated Press
12.09.07

ST. LOUIS — A woman linked to an online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide and has been vilified for it may be the subject of a deception — someone on the Internet is posing as her and blogging about the case.

Lori Drew's attorney said on Dec. 7 that she was not the writer. The St. Charles County sheriff's department is investigating who is behind the blog postings on Blogger.com to see if a crime has been committed, a spokesman said.

The family believes the postings are an effort to damage its reputation following the death of Megan Meier.

"Any Internet message that purports to be a member of the Drew family is being managed by an impostor and undoubtedly is being done for the purpose of further damaging the Drews' reputation," the family said in a statement.

A blog entitled "Megan Had It Coming" surfaced more than two weeks ago. Earlier last week, the person writing the blog claimed the messages were being written by Lori Drew.

The detailed blog lays out Drew's would-be motives for getting involved with the MySpace hoax against Meier.

Lori Drew's lawyer, Jim Briscoe, said they have contacted Google Inc., which owns Blogger.com. "We have contacted Google, telling them that was an impostor," Briscoe said.

A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the impersonation allegation.

Meier thought she was corresponding over MySpace with a cute boy named "Josh Evans" online. The boy never existed. Instead, Drew, her 18-year-old employee and 13-year-old daughter, and Megan's one-time friend, helped create the hoax.

When messages from the fictional boy and others on the Internet turned cruel, including one stating the world would be better off without her, Megan hanged herself in October 2006.

Drew, a mother of two in her 40s, has denied saying hurtful things to the girl over the Internet, and prosecutors have said they found no grounds for charges against the woman.

Details of the case emerged last month, and the story drew international attention.

Since then, the Drews have been besieged with negative publicity, and Meier's death prompted her hometown of Dardenne Prairie to adopt a law engaging in Internet harassment a misdemeanor.

Now, elected officials say the law's first use could be to prevent possible harassment against the Drews.

"I would say that would be a possibility, that they could be the first," Mayor Pam Fogarty said on Dec. 7. "A law is a law is a law. You can't discriminate."

Meanwhile, changes to state law also have been proposed, and on Dec. 4, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt announced the creation of an Internet-harassment task force that he wants to make recommendations within 30 days.

Briscoe said the Drews had not asked police to look into the blog postings.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said he heard about the postings through the news media and asked the sheriff's department to investigate.

Banas said he had no idea if someone might be charged under the Dardenne Prairie measure. He explained any charges he brings are under state law, not under local ordinances.

The prosecutor said Internet harassment and stalking are crimes in Missouri under state law, but noted the sheriff's department was still investigating if a crime had been committed.


Previous
Mo. city makes online harassment a crime
Dardenne Prairie officials pass measure just days after learning that 13-year-old resident killed herself last year after receiving cruel messages on Internet. 11.26.07

Related

Newspaper: MySpace subpoenaed in probe of Mo. girl's suicide

L.A. Times reports that federal prosecutors are mulling charging woman with defrauding networking site by creating false account used to send cruel messages to teen before her death. 01.09.08

Mo. woman charged in MySpace suicide case
Federal grand jury in California has indicted Lori Drew for her alleged role in perpetrating hoax against 13-year-old neighbor who killed herself. 05.16.08

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