A woman linked to an online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide had no idea MySpace messages to the girl had turned cruel and did not write any of them herself, the woman's lawyer said Tuesday.
Attorney Jim Briscoe appeared on NBC's "Today" show, as did the parents of Megan Meier. Megan, a 13-year-old girl from the St. Louis suburb of Dardenne Prairie, hanged herself last year minutes after receiving mean messages on MySpace.
Briscoe said his client "absolutely, 100 percent" had nothing to do with negative, nasty comments posted online about Megan Meier, and wasn't home when they were sent.
"She didn't find out about it until after Megan had taken her own life," he said.
Megan, who took medication for depression and attention deficit disorder, thought she had been communicating with a good-looking 16-year-old boy online. It turned out he was fictitious, and the profile was created to find out what Megan was saying online about the woman's daughter, according to a report from a suburban St. Louis prosecutor.
It is unclear who created the account, but a police report said that the woman and her then-18-year-old employee fabricated the profile. St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas, who announced Monday there would be no criminal charges in the case, said there are different accounts between the woman and the employee about the creation of the profile.
Briscoe said Tuesday the woman "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."
Since the case became public, the woman has had to close her advertising business "because people have been attacking her advertisers and they want nothing to do with her. They don't want the bad publicity," he told NBC. He said her friends and neighbors are afraid to talk to her.
"Her daughter has had to drop out of school because of the harassment," he said.
Briscoe said the woman did know about what was going on, though she didn't think mean messages were being sent, and didn't stop it. "She wished she did. If she could turn back the clock, that's the part she would do differently," he said.
The Meiers say the woman has changed her story since Megan's death. They believe she was home while messages were sent, and said they plan to proceed with a civil case.
Tina Meier told The Associated Press on Monday that the bottom line for her was that the other mother knew about the fake profile, knew Megan was on medication, and let the hoax continue. She said the fake profile was deleted right after the death. Then, she said, the woman didn't tell the Meiers about what happened.
"Our daughter died, committed suicide, and she still didn't say a word," Meier said. "I still feel what she did is absolutely criminal."