The mother of a teenager who committed suicide after becoming the target of an online hoax said today that the woman charged with perpetrating the hoax deserves life in prison.
"She deserves the life sentence that our family has been given," Tina Meier said today on "Good Morning America."
She was referring to neighbor Lori Drew who was indicted Thursday for her alleged role in creating a fake MySpace page in the name of Josh Evans. She reportedly used the page to contact Meier's 13-year-old daughter Megan.
Megan Meier committed suicide in October 2006 and her parents have said their daughter's death was the result of the rapid decline of her online relationship with Josh, whom she believed to be a 16-year-old boy who first flattered the self-conscious girl and then taunted her.
Drew faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
"I am hopeful she will face the maxiumum 20 years in prison," Tina Meier said.
"Twenty years is unfortunately not enough for her," Meier added. "She played a ridiculous game with my daughter's life."
Megan hanged herself an hour after Josh said he no longer wanted to be her friend and told her the world would be a better place without her, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, where Drew was indicted.
Drew, 49, knew the Meiers and lived down the street from them in Missouri for years. She was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on Megan.
"This adult woman allegedly used the Internet to target a young teenage girl, with horrendous ramifications," said U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien in a written statement.
"After a thorough investigation, we have charged Ms. Drew with criminally accessing MySpace and violating rules established to protect young, vulnerable people."
Drew's family said in a statement released by their attorney, H. Dean Steward, "We are deeply saddened to hear of return of federal charges against Lori Drew...The US Attorneys Office in Los Angeles has taken a tragic case and added to that tragedy by their unfounded indictment."
"We look forward to the truth coming out in court. After the truth is presented, we are confident that Lori will be cleared of all charges," the statement said.
The indictment comes months after local prosecutors in Missouri declined to charge Drew, saying no laws had been broken. Tina Meier said she had also contacted the local office of the FBI, but they also could find no laws that had been broken.
Former prosecutors called the Los Angeles indictment unusual.
"This is a groundbreaking case," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "This opens up a whole new world of federal charges when people commit hostile acts on the Internet."
Parry Aftab, a cyberlaw expert, said on "GMA" that the case was an "important start" for protecting children online.
But other legal experts questioned if the prosecution went too far.
Joseph DeMarco, a former federal prosecutor in New York who handled cyber crime cases, said he was surprised by the charges, which were based in part on the fact that Drew allegedly violated MySpace's terms of service in order to inflict emtional distress on Meier.
"This seems to me to be pushing the limits of what traditional law enforcement should be," he said.