MySpace Sexual Assault Case Thrown Out by Fifth Circuit

As prosecutors seek to prove a difficult criminal theory in the Lori Drew MySpace case, here, MySpace won a critical case against it in New Orleans. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that MySpace could not be sued by a Texas girl and her family over a sexual assault by a man she met on the site. The ruling upheld the dismissal of the $30 million lawsuit by the trial judge in 2007.

It is yet another extension of immunity for such web companies under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 bars such lawsuits against Web-based services like MySpace. Judge Edith Brown Clement wrote that “Parties complaining that they were harmed by a Web site’s publication of user-generated content have recourse; they may sue the third-party user who generated the content, but not the interactive computer service that enabled them to publish the content online.”
What is interest in relation to Lori Drew is that the girl, known only as Julie Doe, misrepresented her identity. This common practice is at the heart of the Drew indictment.

In this case, Doe was 13 but misrepresented herself as 18 years old — My Space requires you to be at least 14 years of age. On the site, she met a 19-year-old man who later sexually assaulted her in a parking lot. He was later arrested.

For the fifth circuit opinion, click here.

For an article, click here.