Missouri woman’s post on Craigslist leads to cyber-bullying charge

By Calvin Palmer

A Missouri woman sought to embarrass a teenage girl by posting her picture and cell phone number on the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist, prosecutors said yesterday.

Elizabeth A. Thrasher, 40, of St Peters, has been charged with harassment, a felony under a new state law drafted in response to the suicide of Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie.

Prosecutors allege Thrasher posted the listing after an online confrontation with the 17-year-old daughter of a woman Thrasher’s ex-husband was dating. The teen sent a MySpace message to Thrasher, telling her to grow up.

The listing on Craigslist posted the teenager’s picture, e-mail address and cell phone number. The first page of the “Casual Encounters” section warns that its pages may include adult content.

St Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said the language used gave the impression the girl was seeking a sexual encounter.

Investigators said men called the girl and sent e-mails, text messages and pornography to her cell phone after the listing was posted.

Thrasher’s lawyer, Mike Kielty, said he was not sure prosecutors could meet the elements of the charge.

“To charge a woman, a mother, with a felony for what is tantamount to a practical joke, that’s awfully rash,” he said. “That’s taking it to the extreme.”

The Meier cyber-bullying case received international attention after Lori Drew, an adult neighbor of Meier’s, was linked to a fake MySpace account blamed in her death.

Drew eventually was charged with four federal misdemeanors. A jury found her guilty of three, but a judge overturned the verdicts, saying he will acquit her. The decision has not yet been ratified.

[Based on reports by the St Louis Post-Dispatch and Associated Press.] 

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