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Lori Drew Indicted in MySpace Suicide Hoax

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According to AP, as reported on CNN, Lori Drew was indicted today in the case of the MySpace hoax. Lori Drew and cohorts allegedly set up a fake MySpace profile that romanced and then dumped 13-year old Meghan Meier. These actions are believed to have led to her suicide on October 16, 2006.

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of fraudulently gaining access to someone else's computer. Each count carries a penalty of four to five years in prison, meaning Drew could face up to twenty years. Drew will be arraigned in St. Louis and tried in Los Angeles.

The charge of fraudulently gaining access to someone else's computer has previously been used in cases of computer hacking. This is the first time it has been used in the context of cyber-bullying.

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Previously Missouri officials were unable to prosecute because they had been unable to find any statutes that pertained to the case.

Drew's attorney, Jim Briscoe, has not issued a public statement. Drew has repeatedly denied any involvement. A person answering the Drew's door today had no comment.

Tine Meier, Meghan's mother, expressed relief,

"I'm thrilled that this woman is going to face charges that she has needed to face since the day we found out what was going on, and since the day she decided to be a part of this entire ridiculous stunt," she said. Megan's father, Ron Meier, 38, said he began to cry "tears of joy" when he heard of the indictment. The parents are now separated, which Tina Meier has said stemmed from the circumstances of their daughter's death.

In 2006, Lori Drew of Dardenne, Missouri, allegedly set up a fake profile on MySpace in conjunction with her daughter and family friend Ashley Grills. The profile contained a photograph of a young boy named "Josh" who feigned interest in Meghan Meir. The reported purpose of the profile was to keep tabs on Meier, who Drew believed was harassing her daughter via MySpace. On October 16, 2006, after "Josh" dumped her, Megan's parents found her hanged with a belt in her bedroom closet. Megan, who suffered from depression, died the next morning in the hospital. She had commited suicide.

The case came to the attention of local authorities after Lori Drew filed charges agains the Meiers for destruction of property ( a foosball table) she had stored in the Meier's garage. The Meiers were advised to not speak publicly about the situation until the case had been investigated. A year later, when no charges were filed, the Meiers granted interviews to the press. The tragedy known as the "MySpace Suicide" became national headlines in November 2007.

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The case received additional attention last December, after blog was posted by someone purporting to be Lori Drew, called Meghan Had it Coming.

In January, a federal grand jury issued subpoenas in the case.

Last April, Ashley Grills publicly admitted to her part in the MySpace hoax. In her confession, she implicated Lori Drew.

This case has been a wake-up call for parents, encouraging dialogue about the dangers of cyberbullying. Sources cited by WBKO, report up to 40-percent of students have been bullied online.

Salvador Hernandez, assistant agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, called the case heart-rending. "The Internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl's weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she's responsible for her actions."

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The indictment

Will the case hold up?

Some sources cite 5 year penalties