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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Internet Bullying Records Remain Private

ST. CHARLES, Mo. - A judge has denied public access to FBI records of an investigation into the death of a 13-year-old girl whose suicide due to Internet bullying made national headlines. Circuit Judge Ted House cited privacy concerns in rejecting the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's request for the records.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Jack Banas used the documents in deciding not to file charges in connection with Megan Meier's death.

Moments after the ruling, Banas surrendered the papers to Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Llewellyn.

Meier killed herself after receiving hurtful messages on Myspace.com from a person she thought was a boy. The boy turned out to be a hoax, an account set up by Meier's neighbors to monitor what Meier was saying about their daughter.

The Post-Dispatch argued that Missouri Sunshine Law allows records to be released to the public after an investigation has concluded.

The government argued that the Freedom of Information Act allows records to remain private if their disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy. Judge House agreed and did not address who actually owns the records or who could release them. The Post-Dispatch said it is considering its options.

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