A Missouri woman pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles federal court Monday to charges in an Internet hoax blamed for a 13-year-old girl's suicide. Lori Drew, 49, stood quietly beside her attorney Monday. She pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress. She is free on $20,000 bond.
The proceeding lasted only a few minutes. Drew and her lawyer declined to comment to reporters waiting outside the courtroom.
Drew, of suburban St. Louis, Mo., is accused of helping to create a MySpace account that appeared to belong to a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. The boy did not exist.
Drew's daughter had been a friend of 13-year-old neighbor Megan Meier and the fake account was used to send cruel messages to the girl, including one stating the world would be better off without her. Megan hanged herself in 2006.
Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Meier.
The charges were filed in California where MySpace is based. MySpace is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Fox Interactive Media Inc., which is owned by News Corp.
Drew's case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge George Wu and her trial scheduled for July 29. A status conference was scheduled for June 26. U.S. attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said Drew would be allowed to return home pending trial.
Each of the four counts against Drew carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.