Town Rules Internet Harrassment a Crime

The two developed a virtual friendship that lasted more than a month before things inexplicably took a downward turn. "Megan gets an e-mail, or a message from Josh on her MySpace on Oct. 15, 2006, saying, 'I don't know if I want to be friends with you any longer because I hear you're not nice to your friends,'" Tina Meier said on "GMA."

Insulting messages calling Megan "fat" and a "slut" were being posted, according to The Associated Press.

Tina Meier discovered her daughter's body in a bedroom closet the next day. She had hanged herself.

Six weeks after Megan's death, a neighbor told the Meiers that there was no Josh Evans. He was a fictitious creation of woman whose daughter knew Megan and lived down the street. According to the police report, the woman created the profile to find out what Megan was saying online about her daughter.

The Meiers knew the woman who allegedly created the profile. Her family had asked the Meiers whether they could store their foosball table. The woman attended Megan's funeral, according to the police report.

Once they learned of the family's involvement, the Meiers allegedly destroyed the table, placed it in the woman's yard and encouraged the family to move, according to the AP.

The Meiers said they don't think the woman wanted Megan to commit suicide. But they still hold her responsible for their daughter's death.

"I believe they are the ones who took her to the edge of the cliff and forced her to go over," Ron Meier said. "Everything that we found out so far — it was the sole idea of the mother."

No charges have been filed in the case and the local prosecutor has said it appears no laws were broken. McGuire said the sheriff's department and local and federal prosecutors investigated the case and concluded that they could not file criminal charges. With the publicity, county prosecutor Jack Banas has said he will re-examine the case.

But, it appears that the Josh Evans profile and messages could have violated a federal cyberstalking law, which prevents people from sending abusive or threatening messages, said Perry Aftab, a cyberlaw expert. Aftab, who runs WiredSafety, which helps victims of so-called cyberabuse, said this was one of the few instances she could recall of adults harassing children online.

The involvement of an adult set Megan's story apart from traditional cyberbullying, she said. "This is particularly heinous," she added.

Some neighbors of the family accused of setting up the profile agreed.

"I do think it's criminal, and I think they should be held responsible for it," said Terri Hutchinson.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 3888606.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...