Lori Drew regrets not stopping her daughter and an employee from using a fake MySpace account to mislead Missouri teenager Megan Meier, but Drew’s lawyer claims she had no knowledge the prank had taken a nasty turn until Megan committed suicide.
“She knew these girls were doing it and she didn’t stop it,” attorney Jim Briscoe told TODAY’s Matt Lauer during an exclusive interview Tuesday. “She wishes she did. If she could turn back the clock, that’s the part she would do differently.”
Drew has yet to speak publicly about the events leading to Megan’s death in October 2006, and Briscoe’s appearance on the show was the first time anyone has presented her side of the story.
“Everything, as far as Mrs. Drew knew, was that all the communication was nice and polite and there was no harassing going on,” Briscoe said. “She did not create the MySpace account. She did not instruct anybody to create the MySpace account. She never made any communications through the MySpace account.”
The account, according to news reports, was created by a young woman employed by Drew. The woman, who was 18 at the time, has been under psychiatric care since Megan’s suicide.
On Monday, Jack Banas, the prosecutor for St. Charles County, Mo., announced that no charges would be filed against Lori Drew or anyone else involved in inventing a handsome boy named “Josh Evans” to gain the confidence of Megan Meier and find out what she was saying about Drew’s daughter.
Local and state laws dealing with cyber harassment require a continuing pattern of abuse, and Banas found that messages on the account rose to the level of bullying only on the day that ended with Megan’s suicide.
The final message she had received before hanging herself in the bedroom of her O’Fallon, Mo., home was: “This world would be a better place without you.”
Megan, who was 13 when she took her life, had entertained thoughts of suicide before and was on medication for Attention Deficit Disorder and a bipolar condition.
“At that time, when those messages happened, Mrs. Drew was not in the residence, she did not know these things were happening,” Briscoe told Lauer. “She didn’t find out that these negative comments happened until after.”
Megan’s parents, Tina and Ron Meier, had kept silent about the events leading to their daughter’s death for more than a year while local and federal law enforcement agents investigated whether a crime had been committed. They had known Drew and her husband, Curt, for several years and the families’ daughters had been friends who had a falling-out. It was to discover what Megan was saying about the Drews’ daughter, who is now 14, that the MySpace account was created.
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Since Lori Drew was identified as the mother who knew about the account, she and her family in turn have been targeted on the Internet and by others in their community. Drew had run an advertising company, Drew Ad Vantage, that has been forced to close.
“Mrs. Drew has had to close her advertising business because people have been attacking her advertisers and they want nothing to do with it,” Briscoe said.
“Her friends and neighbors are afraid to talk to her because they don’t want to be attacked next. Her daughter has had to drop out of school because of the harassment. Living in the neighborhood may be impossible in the future. It’s a terrible situation.”
Parents: Nothing’s changed
Ron and Tina Meier have no sympathy for Drew, their neighbor and former friend. Responding from their O’Fallon home to Briscoe’s comments, Ron Meier said of Lori Drew: “Her story has changed from the very beginning to what it is now a year later when she’s come under the charges.”
He said he believes that Briscoe’s claim that Drew was not present when the bullying comments were posted “is 100 percent false. She was there at the house at the time that it went on.”
“The bottom line is [the] poor judgment she used as an adult,” Tina Meier told Lauer. “She knew this was going on, she knew her daughter was typing. She knew my daughter was on medication. She knew our family for years.”
The Meiers conceded that the law, as written, does not recognize what Drew, her daughter and her employee did as criminal, but said that they will continue to campaign to get the laws changed.
“The poor, horrible, disgusting judgment that she used as an adult to allow this to go on is an absolute criminal act,” Tina Meier charged. “Not one word in the entire vocabulary could that woman or family say to me that would change one thing.”
The Meiers said they are considering pursuing a civil case against Drew and will continue to fight for tougher cyber-harassment laws. They also said parents and children need to be aware of the dangers lurking online.
“Parents, please take that extra step,” Tina Meier said. “Talk to your kids, show them the story and show them this is real life. It can happen, and unfortunately it happened to our family.”
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