LOS ANGELES (AP) - Lori Drew, the Missouri mom who perpetrated a MySpace hoax that allegedly drove her daughter's 13-year-old classmate to suicide, will be sentenced today. Prosecutors are seeking three years of jail time and up to $300,000 in fines even though they failed to get felony convictions against her last November.
Instead Drew was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization, essentially for violating MySpace's terms of service agreement. Her laywer, Dean Steward, said in recent court documents that prosecutors were trying to save face after they didn't get the verdict they sought.
"The government's case is all about making Lori Drew a public symbol of cyberbullying," Steward said. "The government has created a fiction that Lori Drew somehow caused (Megan's) death, and it wants a long prison sentence to make its fiction seem real."
Steward wants the judge to dismiss the charges. Probation officials have recommended a year of probation.
UNDERSTANDING THE CASE
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Drew violated MySpace rules by helping set up a phony profile for a boy named "Josh Evans" with her then-13-year-old daughter and a business assistant.
Prosecutors believe Drew and her daughter created the profile and sent flirtatious messages to Megan Meier in the boy's name to find out if Megan was spreading rumors about Drew's daughter.
The fake boy then dumped Megan in a message saying the world would be better without her. She hanged herself a short time later in October 2006.
Prosecutors argued that Drew sought to humiliate Megan, who she knew suffered from depression and was suicidal. They also said Drew tried to conceal the scheme after Megan died and avoided taking responsibility.
"A probationary sentence might embolden others to use the Internet to torment and exploit children," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Krause said in court documents.
Drew was not directly charged with causing Megan's death. Instead, prosecutors indicted her under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which in the past has been used in hacking and trademark theft cases.
The trial was held in Los Angeles because the servers of the social networking site are in the area.