The O'Fallon, Mo. mother, was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of computer crimes. In addition to Drew, her daughter and another teen that were reportedly involved in the harassment; all have denied their involvement.
Drew allegedly created the MySpace account pretending to be a 16-year-old boy using the alias "Josh Evans" and sent messages to 13-year-old Megan Meier, an acquaintance of her daughter. Starting in September 2006, the messages were friendly and expressed romantic interest in Meier, but by the next month, "Evans" sent Meir a final message saying, "The world would be a better place without you." Consequently, a distraught Meier hung herself.
Drew was indicted on one count of conspiracy and three violations of the anti-hacking Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. She is scheduled to be arraigned in a Los Angeles District Court in June, and if convicted, could serve as much as 20 years.
The indictment said that in violation of terms of service, "Drew and co-conspirators knowingly and agreed with each other to intentionally access a computer used in interstate and foreign commerce without authorization and in excess of authorized access, and by means of an interstate communication, obtain information from that computer to further a tortious act, namely, intentional infliction of emotion distress."
The indictment also said that defendant "Drew" "'directed a juvenile who had knowledge of the Josh Evans account to "keep her mouth shut" and refrain from further accessing the Josh Evans My Space account.'
In the indictment, MySpace was identified as the "operator of the site, [which] acted as an ISP." The case was taken to Los Angeles, where MySpace owner, Fox Entertainment Media, is located, after attempts to charge Drew and the others in Missouri failed.
The question of whether or not such Drew could be convicted on charges has been met with some doubt.
U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien told Reuters that this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case.
"Any adult who uses the Internet or a social gathering Web site to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences," O'Brien told Reuters.
For its part, MySpace issued an announcement saying that it, "does not tolerate cyberbullying and is cooperating fully with the US Attorney in this matter."
MySpace and Attorney Generals from 49 states and the District of Columbia in January 2008 formed the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking to improve online safety particularly for teens, following the October 2006 Meier suicide.