Prosecuting Attorney St. Charles County
Courts Administration Building
300 North Second Street, Room 601
St. Charles, MO 63301
CATHERINE L. HANAWAY
United States Attorney
Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse
111 South 10th Street, 20th Floor
St. Louis, MO 63102
I am writing you concerning the "MySpace Hoax" that caused the death of Megan Taylor Meier, as covered by several national media outlets, including as of today CNN. I believe there is a case here for felony abuse of a child resulting in death, felony endangerment of the welfare of a child in the first degree, and two counts misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree.
RSMo 568.060 states, "1. a person commits the crime of abuse of a child if such person: (1) Knowingly inflicts cruel and inhuman punishment upon a child less than seventeen years old" and that if "3.(1) In the course thereof the person inflicts serious emotional injury on the child" where "(2) A child dies as a result of injuries sustained from conduct ... the crime is a class A felony."
(L. 1977 S.B. 60, A.L. 1984 H.B. 1255, A.L. 1990 H.B. 1370, et al., A.L. 1997 S.B. 56) (1985) Held not invalid due to vagueness and does not violate the First Amendment because of overbreadth. State v. Helgoth (Mo. banc), 691 S.W.2d 281.
As applicable here, a person "acts knowingly" "[w]ith respect to his conduct or to attendant circumstances when he is aware of the nature of his conduct or that those circumstances exist." Section 562.016.3(1), RSMo 1994.
RSMo 455.501 defines "Abuse" as "(1) ... the stalking of a child" where "Stalking is defined as "(10) when an adult purposely and repeatedly engages in an unwanted course of conduct with regard to a child that causes another adult to believe that a child would suffer alarm by the conduct." and "As used in this subdivision: (a) "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of repeated acts over a period of time, however short, that serves no legitimate purpose" and that "Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, ... unwanted communication or contact" where "(b) "Repeated" means two or more incidents evidencing a continuity of purpose; and (c) "Alarm" means to cause fear of danger of physical harm."
(L. 1987 H.B. 598 § 2, A.L. 1995 S.B. 174, A.L. 1996 H.B. 1619, A.L. 2004 S.B. 1211)
According to her own statement in a police report she filed with the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department, the adult "stated in the months leading up Meier's daughter's suicide, she instigated and monitored a 'my space' account which was created for the sole purpose of communicating with Meier's daughter." This fulfills the requirement of "acting knowingly" for RSMo 568.060.1 and the requirement of RSMo 455.501 of conduct "that serves no legitimate purpose."
According to statements by the child's mother, the adult was aware that attendant circumstances existed: "Megan had gone on vacations with this family. They knew how she struggled with depression, that she took medication." (Mother's statement to reporter Steve Poken, as published in St. Charles Journal, Tuesday, November 13, 2007 2:55 PM CST.) This fulfills "act[ing] knowingly" pursuant to Section 562.016.3(1), RSMo 1994.
According to the adult's own statements in her police report, "[She] said she, with the help of temporary employee named ------ constructed a profile of 'good looking' male on 'my space' in order to 'find out what [the victim] was saying on-line'... [She] stated she, her daughter and [the temporary employee] all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and [the victim]." This fulfills "purposely and repeatedly engag[ing] in an unwanted course of conduct with regard to a child" as defined in RSMo 455.501(10).
According to the statements of another parent to the child's parents, the adult in question had "encouraged" her minor child "to join in the joke" of communicating with the victim through the fake MySpace account. The actions of the adult so alarmed the other parent that despite not knowing the victim's parents well, she "called and insisted that they meet that morning at a counselor's office in northern O'Fallon" and due to the alarming nature of the information, "would not provide details" over the phone, but instead waited until they met, with witnesses, face-to-face. The other parent's alarm at the conduct of the adult was witnessed by the child's parent's grief counselor, as well as a counselor from Fort Zumwalt West Middle School. This fulfills the requirement of "unwanted course of conduct with regard to a child that causes another adult to believe that a child would suffer alarm by the conduct" pursuant to "abuse" defined in RSMo 455.501(1), "stalking of a child" as defined in RSMo 455.501(10), and "alarm" as defined in RSMo 455.501(10)(c) causing fear of danger of physical harm.
Additionally, the adult in question, in her statement to police, stated that she "felt this incident contributed to Megan's suicide, but she did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before.'" The adult proves with her own statement that she "knowingly inflict[ed] ... serious emotional injury on the child" where "a child dies as a result of injuries sustained from conduct." This fulfills "child abuse" as defined in RSMo 568.060.1, "knowingly inflicts ... upon a child less than seventeen years old" as defined in 568.060.1(1), "serious emotional injury on the child" as defined in RSMo 568.060.3(1), and "a child dies as a result of injuries sustained from conduct" as defined in RSMo 568.060.3(2).
This therefore proves class A felony child abuse stalking resulting in the death of a child under the age of seventeen.
Additionally, stemming from felony child abuse stalking resulting in death, the following crimes by the adult can be inferred: endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree (the victim), endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree (two counts: the adult's daughter and the child of the other parent).
Rebuttals to possible counterclaims
Counterclaim: The responsibility for the protection of the child lies with the parents.
Rebuttal to counterclaim: Federal law, as outlined in Title XIV "Child Online Protection Act", the U.S. Congress found that "(1) while custody, care, and nurture of the child resides first with the parent, the widespread availability of the Internet presents opportunities for minors to access materials through the World Wide Web in a manner that can frustrate parental supervision or control" and "(2) the protection of the physical and psychological well-being of minors by shielding them from materials that are harmful to them is a compelling governmental interest."
Counterclaim: The state of mind of the child, as shown through previous suicide attempts, relieves the adult in question from responsibility of "inflict[ing] serious emotional injury on the child." Therefore it cannot be concluded that the adult in question is responsible for death of the victim "as a result of injuries sustained from [said] conduct."
Rebuttal to counterclaim: On the contrary, the Eggshell Skull Rule says that a defendant takes his victim as he gets her; in other words, the defendant in an injury lawsuit is liable for a plaintiff’s unforeseen and uncommon reaction to the defendant’s negligent or intentional act. In this case, the adult (defendant) "inflict[ed] serious emotional injury on the child" (victim) in the form of felony child abuse stalking, and therefore is still fully liable for the victim's death, even if "serious emotional injury" would have caused a child without a history of suicide little harm.
Additional charges on second adult involved
Furthermore, the adult in question stated in her police report that there was another adult, the temporary employee, involved in these crimes. This second adult can be brought up on the charge of felony conspiracy per RSMo 564.016.1: "A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit an offense if, with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission he agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such offense" and RSMo 564.016.6(1) "conspiracy is a continuing course of conduct which terminates when the offense or offenses which are its object are committed or the agreement that they be committed is abandoned by the defendant and by those with whom he conspired." Ergo class b felony conspiracy per RSMo 564.016.8(1). (L. 1977 S.B. 60) Effective 1-1-79.
In closing, as you probably already know, this story was first published Nov 13, 2007 by local media. As of the date of the writing of this letter (Nov 17, 2007), this story has been further released by national television media outlets (CNN, Nov 17, 2007) and has found widespread coverage across the Internet, including international media coverage in Canada & Qatar. Due to the high-profile nature of this case, I urge you to proceed in bringing up the adult in question (a resident of St. Charles County) on charges of class A felony child abuse stalking resulting in the death of a child under the age of seventeen, and her accomplice, the temporary worker on charges of class B felony charges conspiracy to commit felony child abuse stalking resulting in the death of a child under the age of seventeen.
I thank you for your time,
Pamela W. Curtis
cc: Kim Zetter, Wired News, email@example.com
cc: Steve Pokin, St. Louis Post Dispatch, firstname.lastname@example.org