In a major blow to the prosecution, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu has indicated that he will suppressed the fact that 13-year-old Megan Meier killed herself after her adult neighbor Lori Drew attacked her on MySpace while pretending to be a young boy.
The suppression of the suicide fact would probably leave the jury wondering why such a big deal was being made over a prank. Drew faces one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization. Wu stated that he doesn’t “necessarily think the suicide is relevant to the crime charged and he is worried about the prejudicial effect on the jury. There is certainly a danger of such prejudice and Drew, 49, is not be charged with the suicide itself.
Prosecutors blocked an effort to have a bench trial and this is clearly a blow to their strategy. The problem is that the law remains ambiguous on cyberbullying as a crime. To this day, I do not understand why the family did not sue Drew in a tort action. What Drew did was despicable and juvenile, but I am not convinced that it was a crime. Indeed, such moves raise collateral concerns over the right to anonymity etc.
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