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Substitute Teacher Faces Jail Time Over Spyware

A 40-year-old former substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing prison time following her conviction for endangering students by exposing them to pornographic material displayed on a classroom computer.

Local prosecutors charged that the teacher was caught red-handed surfing for porn in the presence of seventh graders. The defense claimed the graphic images were pop-up ads generated by spyware already present on the computer prior to the teacher's arrival. The jury sided with the prosecution and convicted her of four counts of endangering a child, a crime that brings a punishment of up to 10 years per count. She is due to be sentenced on March 2.

I had a chance this week to speak with the accused, Windham, Conn., resident Julie Amero. Amero described herself as the kind of person who can hardly find the power button on a computer, saying she often relies on written instructions from her husband explaining how to access e-mail, sign into instant messaging accounts and other relatively simple tasks.

On the morning of Oct 19, 2004, Amero said she reported for duty at a seventh grade classroom at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Conn. After stepping out into the hall for a moment, Amero returned to find two students hovering over the computer at the teacher's desk. As supported by an analysis of her computer during the court proceedings, the site the children were looking at was a seemingly innocuous hairstyling site called "new-hair-styles.com." Amero said that shortly thereafter, she noticed a series of new Web browser windows opening up displaying pornographic images, and that no matter how quickly she closed each one out, another would pop up in its place.

"I went back to computer and found a bunch of pop-ups," Amero said. "They wouldn't go away. I mean, some of the sites stayed on there no matter how many times I clicked the red X, and others would just pop back up."

Amero said she panicked and ran down the hall to the teacher's lounge to ask for help. "I dared not turn the the computer off. The teacher had asked me not to sign him out" of the computer, she recalled. Amero said none of the teachers in the lounge moved to help her, and that another teacher later told her to ignore the ads, that they were a common annoyance. Later on, prosecutors would ask why she hadn't just thrown a coat or a sweater over monitor. On that day Amero hadn't worn either.

Several children told their parents about the incident, who in turn demanded answers from the school's principal. Three days later, school administrators told Amero she was not welcome back. Not long after that, local police arrested her on charges of risking injury to several students.

The case came to trial this month, and computer expert W. Herbert Horner testified for the defense that the images were the result of incessant pop-up ads served by spyware on the classroom computer. The prosecution's expert, a local police officer, said time-stamped logs on the machine showing adult-themed images and Web pages accessed by the Web browser at the time she was in the classroom proved that someone had intentionally visited the sites by clicking on a link or typing the address into the browser address bar.

An explanation for this is that Web browser logs will keep records of sites accessed whether they were generated by internal pop-up serving software or clicked on by a user. Also, try not to dwell on the fact that the judge in the case barred Horner from presenting technical evidence to back up his claims. Horner on Monday published a summary of the facts he would have presented were he allowed to at trial.

I checked out theInternet Archive's view of the site referenced in this case, and it is clear that the page was a gateway site for the type of products typically promoted by spam -- penis enlargement and hair loss drugs. A review of the site's source code shows that it also uses Javascript to launch at least one pop-up ad promoting various online dating and porn sites. When I clicked on one of the sites in that list -- "CoolSexx!" -- my anti-virus program alerted me that it was trying to drop a Trojan horse program on my machine (Trojans are generally used to download malicious software to your PC). The spyware was attempting to load itself onto my computer despite the fact that I was using Internet Explorer 7 and up-to-date anti-virus software.

Try also to ignore that the computer in question was a Microsoft Windows 98 machine running an outdated version of Internet Explorer Web browser (IE 5.0), or that the school's license for its firewall program expired prior to the date of the alleged incident. Likewise, the machine's anti-virus software (Cheyenne Software) was expired and it lacked any anti-spyware tools. In short, the Windows 98 computer was completely exposed to the Internet without any kind of protection.

Then there is the admission by the prosecution that it had failed to conduct even a rudimentary scan of the computer's hard drive with anti-spyware software. Amero's defense said that had it been allowed to present its full testimony, it would have shown the results of spyware software scans on the PC she used, which found two adware programs and at least one Trojan horse program. The logs showed that all of the unwanted programs had been installed weeks prior to the alleged incident, the defense claims.

Spyware and adware has long been the source of objectionable pop-up ads. In February 2006, I wrote about a young man who was earning thousands of dollars each month installing porn pop-up ad serving software on computers whose users had failed to equip the machines with security patches or firewall software. The adware this kid installed was a Web browser add-on that barraged victims with endless pop-ads for adult Web sites and services. I managed to track down several of his victims, including a technologically naive pastor in Memphis.

I spoke briefly with Amero's attorney, who said: "I sincerely believe that had we been allowed to present our testimony in full, Julie would not have been convicted. This is a grave miscarriage of justice." With no prior convictions or criminal history, Amero was eligible under state law for "auxiliary rehabilitation," meaning she could have the charges expunged by agreeing to a short probationary period (provided she didn't get arrested again during that period). But, insistent upon her innocence, she chose to fight the charges.

A number of blogs have recently spoken up on Amero's behalf. Also, a former Massachusetts school administrator recently called on the state governor to pardon Amero and expunge the conviction. Even the local paper, firmly convinced of Amero's guilt, called for lenience in her sentencing.

This may not have been an isolated incident in the Connecticut public school system. According to another former teacher in Amero's school, who spoke this week with Security Fix on condition of anonymity, the kids in the school had few restrictions on what sorts of content they could and did view on school computers. "You could look at any history in any computer and chances are you would see the children had [visited] inappropriate sites," the teacher said.

Update, 3:38 p.m. ET: I have corrected two factual errors in the above post, thanks to an eagle-eyed reader from Tennessee who sent me a note. Cheyenne Software was the name of the old anti-virus program (long ago bought up by Symantec), not the firewall software. Also, the weather on the October day of the alleged incident was in the 50s and rainy, so not exactly "balmy."

By Brian Krebs  |  January 25, 2007; 11:24 AM ET
Categories:  Latest Warnings  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Time to Reboot the Internet Again
Next: Missed Software Upgrade Blamed for Conn. Porn Case

Comments

This is absolutely AMAZING! Why go after the people that developed the malware that was planted on the system when they can send an innocent teacher to jail for 40 years! The person was just freaking out about all the popups and panicked. How can you go to prison for that?!?! I say someone needs to bend that judge over a knee and give him a spanking like there is no tomorrow. The principle of that school should be standing in line for the next spanking. Unbelievable!

Posted by: David | January 25, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I've been following this story online for weeks now. Why isn't it bigger national news? Why aren't more people up in arms about how this woman is being railroaded? Why would any teacher in their right mind ever agree to use a net-connected computer in the classroom ever again?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

If others can back up her story, she should not have been arrested, let alone convicted. Sounds like she needs a better lawyer when she goes to appeal.

Posted by: naner | January 25, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I work in the computer lab in a middle school. This is scary because it is so easy for this to happen.

Posted by: naner | January 25, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I am so glad that I no longer teach in the public schools--for several reasons, but this is just one more. How on earth can a substitute teacher be held accountable for what pops up on a computer that she has hardly used, especially since she is admittedly technology-challenged? Hysteria is running amok in America and reason has left for greener pastures. What a pity.

Posted by: Former Teacher | January 25, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

What is this, the 9th Circuit? I have never heard of such irresponsible prosecution except in the Duke Lax case. As someone who works in security certification, the responsibility falls on the management and IT staff, not the end user.

This is really scary story.

Posted by: Jon | January 25, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm an IT professional and I've had pornographic pop up ads that I spent hours getting rid of. My wife is a teacher and needed to take a test, as I recall, it was the MSAT test. In any event, we went out on the web and typed in www.MSAT.com or something like this and...whoa! Our home computer had, and I mean this literally, hundreds of pop up ads. As soon as you closed one, another three or four opened. All were explicit, very explicit, and there was flat out no way of getting rid of them. We shut down the computer and the minute it was rebooted and started all over again. I spent an entire weekend tracking down and getting rid of nearly 100 infections...and all of this was due to innocently surfing to ONE web site.

Posted by: MikeB | January 25, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm an IT professional and I've had pornographic pop up ads that I spent hours getting rid of. My wife is a teacher and needed to take a test, as I recall, it was the MSAT test. In any event, we went out on the web and typed in www.MSAT.com or something like this and...whoa! Our home computer had, and I mean this literally, hundreds of pop up ads. As soon as you closed one, another three or four opened. All were explicit, very explicit, and there was flat out no way of getting rid of them. We shut down the computer and the minute it was rebooted and started all over again. I spent an entire weekend tracking down and getting rid of nearly 100 infections...and all of this was due to innocently surfing to ONE web site.

Posted by: MIKEB | January 25, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of people who believe that this poor woman is being shafted. There's probably some slack jawed little brat somewhere in Connecticut, calmly sitting at his or her desk, intentionally oblivious to the pain this woman is suffering.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like someone needs to arrest the so-called police who arrested her. Welcome to Ashcroft's America where spam and cybercrime operate with liberty and freedom while decent citizens have their liberty confiscated by the government.

Posted by: Jeb's Boehner | January 25, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Naner assumes the teacher will get an automatic appeal. As I remember, normal people (i.e. non-politicans) do not automatically get appeals. They have to have grounds for an appeal. (And hope the judge let's them out of jail pending appeal.)

I hope Naner is not underestimating the effort (and money) needed for an apppeal.

Posted by: Bob | January 25, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Don't arrest the police, thats just a rediculous. They are just following orders. Someone decided to press charges. Sue them, and the Prosecutor and the Judge, and pitch the jury in the Ocean.

What blatent idiocy!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for reporting this story so thoroughly. Everything else I've seen has been breathless "40 years for popups!!" coverage. It really sounds like bad, bad lawyering on both sides: overzealous prosecutors and ineffective defense counsel. Hopefully the public attention will help the teacher. -

Posted by: DAK | January 25, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

THE REAL CRIMINALS ARE THE ONES PROSECUTING THIS WOMAN FROM THE TOP DOWN!!! Clearly none of those people know the first thing about IT security, let alone browsers and the Internet. I have not been this upset in a very long time! I will definitely be following this case. She better not go to prison for this!

Posted by: THE REAL CRIMINALS | January 25, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

There must be something else to this story beyond an ineffective lawyer. What reason did the judge give for not allowing the defense's evidence? That's a pretty big deal. Is the prosecutor's case really as flimsy as it sounds? What qualified a small town police officer to be the prosecution's expert computer witness? It sounds like maybe the jury members didn't have even basic computer literacy. If so why did the defense allow them to be chosen?

This is the first time I've heard the story, maybe these questions have been answered elsewhere.

Posted by: booyah | January 25, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I wish there was a way the teacher being substituted for, the school district, the police, and the judge in this case could all be brought to justice for letting such irresponsible behavior cause this woman such grief.

Posted by: John | January 25, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I wonder where they got those jurors from - 7-Eleven, 2nd-grade classes? These people apparently have not used the computer or surfed the internet their entire life. This pisses me off.

Posted by: V V of VA | January 25, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like the prosecution, the judge, and the cop are complete and total idiots. They make books for those types of people and they clearly need to read one. Start with Law for Dummies. And then work your way up to Internet for Dummies.

Posted by: What idiots | January 25, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I have read about stupid convictions, but this wins the award by far.
The Judge and the prosecutor should be looked at just as Nyfong was with the duke trial.
I work IT in a district with 3000 computers, this happens all the time. All the time!
Also, our filter shows that kids this age spend quite a bit of time trying to access these sites in the first place. Im slowly loosing respect for law in this country.

Posted by: a voice | January 25, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

What can reasonably be done by us to help her case?

Posted by: Hassan | January 25, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The school system is using her as a scapegoat. Win98? Outdated protection software? WHAT ABOUT THE TEACHERS IN THE SCHOOL THAT WOULDN'T HELP HER?!!! WRONG!!!!

Posted by: SHOCKED | January 25, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

What's really shocking is how much I.T. ignorance, weak security, or hysterical over-reaction, there was among everyone involved:
the teacher who panicked,
the principal,
the kids who reported the teacher,
the parents of the kids who reported the teacher,
the school's I.T. dept. (the sysadmin in particular),
the police,
the prosecutor,
the judge who refused to allow an expert to present real evidence,
the jury who listened to everything.

In a fairly wealthy and well-educated state like Connecticut, it's appalling to find so many people with so little I.T. saavy. What would one find in a poorer state?

Posted by: Ken L | January 25, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

sounds to me like the principal ought to be fired for failing to take security precautions on his network.

Posted by: hurtingback | January 25, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

If it's a criminal case, she gets an automatic appeal in every state.

It certainly sounds like her lawyers let her down on this one. To show intent, they would have had to show that she either clicked on one of the pop up ads or that she typed in a web address she shouldn't have, or that she ran an improper search and then clicked on a link. The last two are easily proven or disproven. If she clicked on one of the pop up ads then it seems an easy thing to convince a jury that in her panic she just missed the little "x."

Posted by: anon | January 25, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised at the grammar of all these comments. It's surprisingly good.
As for the case, I agree whole-heartedly that she shouldn't have been arrested or even prosecuted at all. This is the standard evil that plagues the internet and can happen to anyone. This justice is simply unfair.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Excellent comments.... and..

What were the kids doing hovering over the PC when the teacher was out of the room?

Why weren't they taught at home to never, ever look at pornographic images?

Yeah, sure.. the teacher's fault for not parenting.


Posted by: bob | January 25, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

If you are upset as I am, you will follow my lead and contact the following to voice your concerns. BE POLITE!!! AND TRY TO REASON!!!

Kelly Middle School
I recommend speaking to the principal and IT "department" and ask them have they decided to start legally licensing their equipment and patching their computers.
860-823-4211

David Smith - State Prosecutor
If someone figures out which one, that would be helpful:
SMITH, David (860) 515-5330 david.smith@jud.ct.gov Judicial Branch
SMITH, David (203) 974-8173 david.smith@po.state.ct.us Social Services, Dept Of
SMITH, David A. (203) 238-6135 david.a.smith@jud.state.ct.us Public Defender Services, Division Of
SMITH, David G.E. (860) 566-4284 david.g.smith@jud.state.ct.us Public Defender Services, Division Of
SMITH, David J. (860) 889-5284 david.smith@po.state.ct.us Criminal Justice, Division Of
"""
http://www.phone.state.ct.us/EmpByLastName/n_ls.html


Detective Mark Lounsbury
Norwich Police
Tel: (860) 886-5561 ext 153
Fax: (860) 886-4552


CT State governor M. Jode Rell
800-406-1527
Governor.Rell@po.state.ct.us

Posted by: Voice Your Concerns | January 25, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

As an information security manager, I am completely shocked by the utter failure of the justice system to hold the school system itself accountable for lax protections and filtering on their systems. The duty to protect the integrity of the computer in the classrom does not rest with the teacher in this case, but with the distric IT dept. Additionally, the testimony of the local police officer regarding the so-called timestamped logs on the system proving deliberate, manual browsing of a website is total BS. That officer should be charged with with obstruction of justice. What a horrible miscarriage of justice!

Posted by: Shocked by the display of ignorance | January 25, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Conneticut is full of a bunch of old money tech retards. So when you have a jury composed of that, what else would you expect.

Posted by: Jason | January 25, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It's not the old money retards, those people find a way out of jury duty. Juries are filled with losers with nothing else to do and no real excuses to weasle out of jury duty. I tremble at the thought of my freedom in the hands of a jury of my peers.

As for an appeal, she can appeal the Judge's ruling that kept out some of her expert testimony. Hopefully the appellate court (which tends to be populated by more experience jurists) will reverse the conviction and grant her a new trial.

Posted by: Brian | January 25, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

ADD JUDGE HILLARY B. STRACKBEIN TO THE CONTACT LIST!

Hillary B. Strackbein
Superior Court, G.A. 10
112 Broad Street
New London , CT 06320
P (860) 443-8343
F (860) 437-1168

Posted by: Unbelievable | January 25, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I dare anyone to go to google and enter this search:

Hillary B. Strackbein falling asleep

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | January 25, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Take the B. out of the search for more results.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | January 25, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Shows what happens when stupid people run the government. On the local level we get creationism and a travesty like this. On the national level, we get bush. It's like giving a handgun to a monkey. As society requires more and more technical understanding to function, this will only get worse. And as always, it's the innocent who suffer from the arrogant stupid people.

Posted by: DT041054 | January 25, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The reason we get stupid judges,prosecutors, politicians, and a President like Bush is because we as a society only pay attention when we something that provokes our outrage. We don't pay attention on a daily basis, and during a campaign we fall for great soundbites and slogans. This case is the result. Not sure if this Judge was elected or appointed by an elected official, but the result is the same: we get the government we ask for when we don't pay more attention.

Posted by: Brian | January 25, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Great article and well thought out reader comments.

Pingback: http://securitygarden.blogspot.com/2007/01/chose-to-fight-charges.html

Posted by: Corrine | January 25, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This is more of a political than anything else. Angry parents demand answers, principle point fingers at the teacher. Prosecuter worrying about his job, end of story.
I'm a IT professional responsible for our Company security patches. I once visited an "innocent" webpage, next thing you know I got literally hundred of popup. And this is with the latest Security patch and Anti-Virus software. Spent over hours trying to clean it. Finally gave up and reinstall Windows XP from scratch.
From the story, the teacher obviously panic and don't know what to do. How can this woman be charge left alone convicted.

Can someone provide email to the state prosecutor office, would like to submit my comments and volunteer my time if I can be any help.

Posted by: JJ | January 25, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

This is a sad story that keeps getting repeated across America, with the details different each time. People who serve on juries have no clue what "reasonable doubt" is. Prosecutors and police are determined to get a conviction at all costs, even at the cost of justice. Defendants who can't afford good lawyers get ineffective public defenders. Why should anybody be surprised when innocent people get sent to prison?

Posted by: Charlie Gies | January 25, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I blame the DUMB _ _ S jurors who covicted this woman in the first place!! Most jurors are idiots to begin with, think about it, who in the world can go sit for weeks on a trial for $26.00 a day! People who don't work and have nothing else to do!
I know I'll get slammed on this but just think about it.

Posted by: kozmo | January 25, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Lindsay Beyerstein has an excellent article on this as well. Very interesting reading. It is posted at Alternet.
http://www.alternet.org/rights/46925/

Posted by: WEHooper | January 25, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

My wife is a librarian for a school in a very large district/county. She is also the ONLY tech person in the entire school. If CT is anything like my state, most schools don't have a dedicated technology/IT individual but they rely on a district-wide department to give mostly remote support and the librarian (now referred to as "media specialist") is the on-site IT person. Now my wife is very tech-savvy but the lack of support from a dedicated IT department and the general lack of pc/internet knowledge whatsoever on the part of the MAJORITY of teachers is a bad combination. Add to that, the general state of funding most public school systems are in and you can see how the factors listed in this article come about (the aging and outdated systems/software). This ruling is absurd from any perspective.

Posted by: WTF | January 25, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Even if she is guilty (which she is probably not given the What "endangering child" has to with the case? What child had even slightest possibility to be dead or injured because of looking (willful looking, nobody made them) at some bad pictures? Why strip a person of even a day of freedom and put her to a jail for this - LET ALONE 40 YEARS! $1000 fine would make the teacher (given teachers' salaries) not to do it ever again. But 40 years of jail time! Who were the crazy fascists who invented the laws like these?! They should be put in jail themselves forever for taking freedom from innocent people like this poor soul.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I hope that every person who is upset about this case remembers it the next time they get a summons to jury duty -- and all start talking about how to "get out" of it, how their time is so much more important than sitting in judgment on a woman's life, or their work is so much harder and can't be done without them, or someone else will do it if they don't. Don't wonder why verdicts like this happen if you aren't willing to do your civic duty and add an intelligent, thoughtful voice to the jury room.

Posted by: SoapBox | January 25, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

This is an example of the guilty passing the blame to the innocent. The school "IT" admin should have ensured the computes have the latest security updates. (by the way, schools get great discounts on software...no excuses. The computers in a school with young children should be locked down so this cannot happen.
But this is getting away from the fact the Justice is being withheld from this poor substitute teacher. How can the judge not allow such important evidence to be admitted?
I hope this story gets national coverage and instead of the teacher being made an example of, the prosecutor and judge are made examples of.

Posted by: Jeremy | January 25, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Idiots. all of you can take your special, precious children and kiss my a...what an inbred, hick town

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

and the judge is probably a catholic pedophile

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I know where I have lived they select jurors from registered voters who tend to be old people. Then a lot of the potential jurors who have computer skills find reasons to be excused from service cause they would rather not miss work etc and you are left with a jury box full of computer illiterate grandparents getting half the facts and making a stupid decision like this.

Posted by: Drew | January 25, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The one thing no one mentioned was that the actual teacher of the class basically told the sub not to mess with his/her computer, that's why she didn't restart it. Yet no one seemed to bring that point up or ignored it completely. If anything that's where the blame could be put if there is any blame at all since they are obviously the primary user.

Posted by: tbone | January 25, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely amazing what this world has come to... In ten years we wont have any teachers left...

I can't wait to she gets found innocent and sues for defamation of character

Posted by: Jon | January 25, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm hesitant to blame the IT department. The school district I work in has thousands of computers and we have a department of only 5 staff members. We all have college degrees and are underpaid by normal standards. The district doesn't have the payroll funds to hire more staff; just as most the other districts I have visited. Anyone who thinks we have the time to patch and keep all the computers free of spyware is living in a fantasy world. Let me say again, 5 staff members, about 2800 computers.
If you blame the IT department you either cant do math, or you know nothing about what goes on in an IT department all day. This is a problem with the judicial system, law and the morons who let it escalate to this level in the first place.

We really need to help this teacher if there is anyway we can.

Posted by: Yet another voice | January 25, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

From a legal standpoint, its pretty clear that the trial court committed reversible error in excluding "technical" evidence.

That's like not letting in the results of DNA that would exonerate a defendent because the judge can't be bothered to learn 10th grade science.

I hope her lawyer is appealing.

Posted by: adr | January 25, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Yowza. The most amazing thing here to me, as a "veteran court observer," is that the prosecution met the "reasonable doubt" standard in presenting its case. Based on the defendant's self-assessment of her own computer skills, it may be simply that her own defense was a bit too rigorous in empaneling a jury of her peers. That, or Connecticut has a fairly large Amish population (whose members nonetheless report for jury duty).

Posted by: Audentes | January 25, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I am a high school teacher in Europe and am vastly encouraged at the reaction of nearly all posters tonight.

This poor woman is so obviously a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

The School I am in has set filter levels which would make these images impossible but they went too far.

We organised a trip to Italy with a Travel company but had real communication difficulties, e mail, the lot.

The reason was that the travel company operated from Dyke Road, Bristol.

The filters objected, to the first word but I am also told that Bristol is slang for breasts.

Glad to know we are so well protected!!

Posted by: jh1241 | January 25, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Me again ... I've just scrolled back up and my hat is off to Kozmo! It is truly frightening to consider that we live in a nation where such important matters as whether one lives free or behind bars rest upon the decision-making ability of people too stupid to get out of jury duty.

Posted by: Audentes | January 25, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

This is stupid injustice. It is clearly not her fault and she should not go to prison for it. But of course the liberal court system will put her in jail because the system is screwed up.

Posted by: Saudi | January 25, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It's really hard to beleive that this is actualy happening.
This seems like the inquisition.

Posted by: Igor | January 25, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Wow. A couple years ago in my third grade class students who were trying to reach an online educational site accidentally typed the url incorrectly and graphic pictures of anal sex popped up. My kids were a little too naive to understand what they were looking at. I close the window as fast my fingers could move and just said, "I don't know what it was either..." Of course with middle schoolers it's harder to pull that off.

Posted by: John Bassett | January 25, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I've had the same uncontrolled popup hell. It is the SCHOOL's FAULT for not installing adequate security software. No security, no guilt on part of teacher, whether it was a mistake on her part, or not. What happened to innocent until proven guilt????

Posted by: peter | January 25, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Besides feeling terrible for this poor teacher, I am entirely amused by seeing the message at the top of my browser at this moment: "Firefox prevented this site from opening a popup window." Even as reputable a site as the Washington Post would subject visitors to popup ad(s).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Besides feeling terrible for this poor teacher, I am entirely amused by seeing the message at the top of my browser at this moment: "Firefox prevented this site from opening a popup window." Even as reputable a site as the Washington Post would subject visitors to popup ad(s).
(reposting - I just saw the note about unsigned Posts - I didn't notice the Name space above, the first time.)

Posted by: Tim | January 25, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

This so-called teacher is obviously a terrrist and as such an unlawful enemy combatant. She's lucky she didn't wind up in a navy brig somewhere. That she received a trial at all is a blow to the modern American way of justice--and even without resorting to hearsay testimony and supression of classified exculpatory materials she was still convicted! How can you write such comments just because you read a story put out by our libral mainstream media?

I bet a little waterboarding would get the real truth out of her. We must keep these terrrists from attacking our children!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

A school pays for computers using tax dollars and think they'll magically stay spyware-free until they die a slow death... Allows full access to users (bad choice of OS there), violating every good IT practice ever envisioned. Substitute teacher enters stage-left and get caught in a storm of s@#t being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Techno-idiotic prosecutors and administrators convict substitute teacher. WOW, just WOW...

PS If the teacher can access porn sites, the students certainly can and this, to me, is the problem. In this day and age, to connect computers to the Net in a lab, you need the help of a professional who will lockdown user accounts, provide anti-spyware and/or website blocking software. I wonder how much money was spent prosecuting this unfortunate individual as opposed to the money invested in the above.

Posted by: Dumbfounded | January 25, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

so sad. QQ

Posted by: modnar | January 25, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Re: Jury duty

I'd like to dodge jury calls too. Why? The system is broken. Last time I was called, I sat in a room with 40 other individuals for 4-6 hours reading a book. At the end, the judge gave us some asinine reason why we wasted our time there and sent us home. Here's an idea, figure out if you need a jury and then call it! I wouldn't mind serving time on a jury (as long I didn't get sequestered for months), just don't imprison me in a room for a day and call it civic duty.

Posted by: Dumbfounded | January 25, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Who should we contact at local TV news stations and papers in Hartford and Boston to give this case more widespread attention?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm a programmer. This happens all of the time, the only way to kill the pop ups is to hit cntrl alt del and when the manager pops up highlight everything and hit shutdown.

I can't believe that if everything is as you say it is, this woman was convicted. That police officer that testified is either an idiot or a lier. The browser will store the addresses but it doesn't tell you who pushed the button, or if it was accessed automatically. Secondly, It doesn't make sense that a sub teacher would show kids porn and then run to the lounge and ask for help.

Plus 7th graders are more computer savy than many 40 year old teachers and II wouldn't doubt that they had a hand in it.
Plus
Only in America.

Posted by: RM | January 25, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Later on, prosecutors would ask why she hadn't just thrown a coat or a sweater over monitor. The day, it turned out, had been balmy, and Amero hadn't worn either."

Why she does not turn off the monitor?

if this is a security issue then there should be a law make all public school disable Java, running Firefox instead of IE, and do not let user install Plug In

Posted by: Paul | January 25, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The judge in this case let the prosecution railroad an innocent person. I can't believe the judge would disallow expert testimony about the existence of spyware and adware infections. That's outrageous. THE JUDGE IN THIS CASE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED and removed from the bench for incompetence. Also, the student affected should be entitled to damages from the school district for using outmoded operating systems and browsers and allowing their firewall software to be four years out of date. That's negligence, in this case criminal negligence.

Posted by: Mr. Real | January 25, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Police, prosecutors and judges make money from sensational cases.

Police get promotions for big cases, prosecutors get elected to higher offices, judges get re-elected.

I became involved in a car-jacking case when called for help. The accused was poor and had a public defender. The stupidity of the accusation was to great to go into detail here. I was given the transcripts of confidential follow-up interviews conducted by the police where the accusers changed their story dramatically and two of the three accusers stated the 18 year old being held in prison was not at the scene at all. The third accuser positively ID'd 3 out of the 2 people involved. It turns out the accusers ambushed the "car-jackers" and one of the people they attacked used the accusers own car to escape. The transcripts show the detective told the people who said the 18 year old not involved that he was thinking of releasing him. The detective then puts on his cover letter to the prosecutor that the only thing the accusers were sure of was the involvement of the 18 year old. The 18 year old was held in prison from February to November before the prosecutor decided there was no case and released him.
No charge of filing a false report was ever brought against the accusers. Local media (whore for the prosecution) refused to cover the story when I showed them the transcripts.

This happens every day all across the country. Unless you have money for an attorney no-one ever hears about it.

Does the Prosecutor have any responsibility to read the transcript or just go by what the police say?

Does the Judge have any responsibility to read the transcript or just go by what the Prosecutor says?

How can anyone get elected locally if they can be vilified by accusation of standing against law and
order?

I think we need ballot or constitutional initiatives to get prosecutors who think their job is to secure a conviction no matter what, under control. we need more transparent oversight of people in power.

Posted by: Power run amuk | January 25, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I hope the print edition of the Post will give this dramatic miscarriage of justice and incompetence the national exposure it deserves.

Grassroots letter campaigns to the daft parties involved can't hurt, but I think more national attention and rightful ridicule is what will really make a difference. Moreover, the story can help raise awareness of the need for better IT support, resources, and security in our public education system in general.

Posted by: John | January 25, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The type of persecution was bound to happen given the level of hysteria concerning sex in this country. The political motivation to take advantage of concerned citizen's emotions made passing these restrictive laws a winner for politicians and conservatives trying to further their own agenda. Now there are victims of these laws. We have seen this before. Evolution in the class room, teaching Marx, reading the Bother's Grimm unabridged fairly tails. When emotion replaces reason and reaction replaces thought the consequences are easy to predict. We see it in the Middle East and we see it home. I do hope that justice will prevail in the end.

Posted by: Mr. Risner | January 25, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

This is why schools and non-techie users should run Linux or Mac. At the very least, use Firefox, and disable javascripts. Use the NoScript extension to make it easy to trust certain sites, but block others.

Posted by: Danny | January 25, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Amazing...this has got to be one of the most bizarre miscarriages of justice that I have heard of! Very scary stuff. I pray that an excellent appellate attorney will take her case, 'pro bono.'

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

This case is just like the Nifong case: prosecutors wrongly going after innocent people just to further their careers. It is my hope both the prosecutor and the biased Judge's reputations are ruined because of this, as they deserve to be, because any fool can see what truly happened here. If you can fool an OJ jury, you certainly can fool a bunch of red neck jurors when in comes to computers.

Posted by: Mark | January 25, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

It is crazy that a woman surfing porn sites would run to the teacher's lounge trying to get help to shut it down if she were actually guilty. This verdict is a travesty. I also agree with someone above who wondered what kind of Puritan fantasy land do we live in where someone could be convicted of "endangering a child" for this. If I were a teacher in that school system, I'd refuse to use the computers. Why would any teacher use them with a 40-year prison sentence just one innocuous click away?

Posted by: rb in dc | January 25, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The Beyerstein article (linked to above as alternet.org) contains the telling fact that the defense expert testimony was kept out of the trial based on a procedural problem that the defense attorney is responsible for creating. Basically, a trial is supposed to overcome the limitations on a judge's technical sophistication about any subject (much more a jury's limited familiarity with the nuances of interpretting facts) by having both sides present their case. But, to make sure the sides are fully engaged and that the truth therefore emerges, there are rules requiring that evidence/arguments get revealed in advance of the trial. It sounds like the defense failed to disclose their adware arguments and the related expert testimony and the judge employed the only penalty he has for such situations -- excluding the evidence. The result is the same as when a confession is thrown out because of a procedural error by the cops or the prosecutors. The lack of any sanction other than ignoring evidence is a major flaw in our judicial system, but it is a familiar one. The only real grounds for appeal may be incompetence of defense counsel.

Posted by: Law and order | January 25, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

This is crazy! A woman's life is about to be ruined for something she had no control over, or so it seems... becuase unless you were there, its no way to trully know the truth. But if what I read is true, then this just shows the state of our loveable country. This could've happened to anyone. First thought that came to mind was, that woman needs a better lawyer. Its no way she should have been convicted. My second thought was, why would a judge bar technical information that could potentially save a persons life. How can that judge sleep at night? Its obvious the judge doesnt care about what happens. Probably just wanted to get home to watch CSI. If the case is reversed through appeals and what have you, the judge should be removed from the bench for poor (I should use the word dumb but I wont) judgement. The US legal system sucks!!!! Its evident in this case.

Its just sad to hear!

Posted by: DW | January 25, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Having been an IT consultant for 15 years, the most obvious issue for me is that she simply hired a lawyer completely unfamiliar with arguing technology cases. A competent lawyer would have introduced the evidence properly and easily shown that the prosecution's witnesses backgrounds and testimony were grossly inadequate. They would have also proceeded with a lawsuit against the district for failing to provide adequate security to her and the children and ComputerCop for misleading law enforcement agencies and judicial systems as to the use of their products. Too bad it has to be this way, but that is probably the only way to get this rectified.

First off, there is a reason why corporations spend a great deal of money on security - even with new technology and competent professionals it is difficult. Second, there really no way to secure a computer with Windows 98. Within minutes of connecting a Windows 98 computer to the internet it will be compromised -- one need not even open a browser. A network firewall (if it were even working which in this case was not) would likely not provide significant protection and if any of the other computers on that network were infected -- which likely all of them are, an infection would come from them also instantly. Windows 98 and older I.E. browsers are almost impossible to lock-down and most any malicious script will run. Anti-virus software is of little or no use unless you are already infected with a well known virus and on a Windows 98 machine, the anti-virus is unlikely to be up-to-date.

This truely must be a horror but it is a great example of how those without money can easily be trampled.

Posted by: George | January 25, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

lame and lamer, no way should the teacher be sentenced to 40 years for the faults of microsoft security, or malware and pop-ups

Posted by: case | January 25, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I had to re-read this article. I can not believe that some poor woman is about to go to jail because some kids saw a series of explicit images. Even if she had done it deliberately, which seems unlikely, the sentence is extreme. She is no real threat and the damage is already done. I am just glad it was not my taxes paying for the prosecution. It would appear that the world is crazy. I was incensed last year to read about paedophiles in the UK who were caught with thousands of images of child porn being sentenced to what amounted to less than a year in jail and a place on the sex offenders register. There are real criminals out there who pose a substantial threat to kids. These are the people that need to spend 40 years in jail for child endangerment not a substitute teacher doing a tough but very vital job. It seem to me that justice is not only blind but deaf and inexcusably ignorant.

Posted by: HEW in UK | January 25, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

The comments posted by Law and Order are indicitive of the judicial system today in that it does not matter about the truth of anything but rather how things are presented. It would appear the justice system in this case was/is only concerned with procedure rather than right or wrong. I do believe however, that the substitute teacher should have turned off the monitor (If she knew how) regardless of the desire of the prime teacher. (End would justify the means)

Posted by: Guamham | January 25, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

the principal , the parents , the prosecutor , the police , the jury , the
judge do any of them own a computer .
Do they know we are being over run by spam.
I've been a computer analyst for twenty five years and my computer was just completely taken over by spam. And even if she did what they say , there must not be ant real crime in that town . MORONS

Posted by: l gregory | January 25, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

the principal , the parents , the prosecutor , the police , the jury , the
judge do any of them own a computer .
Do they know we are being over run by spam.
I've been a computer analyst for twenty five years and my computer was just completely taken over by spam. And even if she did what they say , there must not be ant real crime in that town . MORONS

Posted by: l gregory | January 25, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The prosecutor is Attorney David J. Smith. Pros. Office Tel # 1-860-889-5284

Posted by: Concerned Nutmegger | January 25, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

As someone who has provided tech support for over 10 years [from windows 95 through windows xp] for users here's my perspective that will hopefully be used during her appeal.

The computer should have been put in a state where the drive contents could be "frozen in time"...take an image file of the drive and load the imaged drive in the machine. Otherwise it would be contaminated evidence and not admissible.

Look at the timestamps of the access they accused her of typing in. If it was pop-ups that used mousetrapping, you'd probably find access to dozens of sites happened faster than she could have physically typed. [sequence: pop-up, close window, pop-up, close window, probably as fast as she could hit the X to close]

Going further back in the history of the browser [if it wasn't set to delete history after x number of days, you might find the day and time(s) that someone else first visited sites that installed the pop-ups.

Supoena the ISP logs of the inbound requests for the porn sites to see if they had happened so quickly, sequentially, that a person couldn't have typed fast.

Bring the creator(s) of the spyware residing on the computer in and have them prove that their software wasn't set to automatically take over the machine and re-route to porn sites.

Nearly every computer I've been provided to fix, has had porn on it in the browser cache when used by a male, and occasionally when used primarily by a female.

Imagine if you were at a public library that didn't have filtering software and the user before you had just surfed a child porn site. Then you sit down to surf, pop ups came up and some children were within viewing distance. Would you be liable? The library for not filtering that out?

What if someone had poisoned the host file on the local computer? You could type in www.washingtonpost.com and instead of routing there, it could be rerouted to a site filled with illegal content. [host file on xp resides at C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\ open the file with notepad and see how routing can be manipulated]

What a miscarriage of justice. I truly hope that she gets a retrial with people technically capable of getting to all of the facts.

Posted by: Doug | January 25, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

This case should have been thrown out of court by the judge to begin with, simply refused to heard! And now that the judge has allowed this to happen; he or she should be thrown out of office! I too am an IT professional and a CIT Instructor, this very thing happens daily all across America and the World and it will continue until National Legislation is made to apprehend those that publish the SPAM. The fact that the PC was loaded with Windows 98 alone should have been enough for anyone with any knowledge of computers to have said no to conviction. It browser is open to SPAM worse than any other version written especially when no antispam and antivirus is loaded.
Lets get real people! If your on court cases like this, stand up to the judges and the idiot prosecutors and just say no!

Posted by: SMASH | January 25, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm a computer technician so it's my job to deal with just this kind of thing. Theirs not much I can add to this that has not already been said but I really would like to see this woman sue the school & the Judge. Furthermore since you can use the ISP and the computers to back track every site this pc visited it would be nice to see the site that launched this infestation tracked down and held liable. If you are looking for somebody to pin 40 years on it's the person or persons who stand the most to gain from such a popup generator.

Enough with the witch hunt. What's next? Burning teachers on a cross? Thank god I moved out of the U.S! You guys are on a sinking ship that I for one got completely
Fed up with.

Posted by: EEH | January 25, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I have over 30 yrs in the computer field and it really burns me to get those sickening popups and the nasty email spam from the ex-cons who bring us this stuff :-( ... It is way too easy for even the odd kid for kicks would likely setup her computer to be filled with viruses and popups while she was distracted...
Also, most of us do not like to perform Jury Duty since it does not pay well and is a total bore... This implies that any poor sap who is being judged by their peers is in fact being Judged by those who don't have a regular job or can't hold a regular job... You will be judged by the worst losers of society... so much of our judicial system...

Is this the same crappy system we are trying to impose on various Middle Eastern countries? We cloak our junkie institutions in a word "democracy"... yuk, Puke!...

Posted by: Seattle Resident | January 25, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Those who found America recognized that the only way for a Nation to survive is to be "For the People, by the People". Since the founding of America, all other self serving governing bodies have since then perished...

If we don't stand up and protect the rights of this woman and other nasty events, then our beloved country will too perish a slow decline... :-(

Posted by: Bryan | January 25, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse


Is this Sixty Minute subject matter or not?

Posted by: Albert E, | January 25, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Just think: If she had been a man, she might have got the chair.

No benefit of the doubt, and none of the tea and sympathy I'm reading here. The majority would instead be baying for blood. Quick to believe the worst, hundreds would be lined up, eager to pull the switch. I can see it all now.

I wonder how many men have been railroaded like this woman so obviously has, yet no one has come to their rescue. The innocent but unlovely men, summarily arrested on trumped up charges and quickly buried alive to assuage the frenzied indignation of Smalltown USA.

That this can happen to anyone in an unguarded moment has already been demonstrated, and should give us all great pause. The question is, When laws are multiplied and sentences compounded, what besides dumb luck is keeping any of us out of jail?

We have more to fear from the State we have charged with protecting us from our fears than from anything that might ordinarily befall us.

From our own nightmares comes this hysterical urge to lock up criminals forever, so they can never ever possibly harm us. Except we never imagine that quite by accident, some *other* hysteric might one day label *us* a criminal and entomb *us* in the very prisons we so eagerly voted to build.

This woman's story is a cautionary tale if ever I've heard one.

Posted by: AltPOV | January 25, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

What a shame that this even became a case; let alone the fact that her justifiable panic was deemed punishable by 40 years in jail! Shame on the judge, and the police who wasted time testifying against her when real predators lurk behind the scenes posting such obscenity.

As an IT professional, I know exactly what has happened to her as it also has happened to many of my clients, who were 'fortunate' to experience the obnoxious popups on their computers in the privacy of their homes and offices, and have me offer them assistance in lieu of being sent to jail... To this date, I haven't heard of an office lawsuit in the same vein yet, but after this case, I wouldn't be surprised at all. It's a despicable case of misused law.

Posted by: YA | January 25, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

So a female teacher can have sex with her students as long as she does not to expose them (girls ???) to objectionable material (porn) on the internet.


Posted by: Arttoglass | January 25, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

This woman is innocent, she did not do anything wrong. I always thought the law is for the victim (she as a victim of people producing malicious popups), not against them. Who still wants to become a teacher, under these circumstances?

Posted by: Henning (not a teacher) | January 25, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Is'nt this the same state that has been giving pedophiles probation for sodomizing & raping little children. Bill Orielly should look into this one. What is wrong with Connecticut, are all the people there just stupid or what.

Posted by: Unfedlight | January 25, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Were the students allowed to get up out of their seats and use the computer?

Posted by: Who Cares | January 25, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Just more evidence that Americans are the stupidest people on earth.

Posted by: Mark | January 25, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

This is outragous. I am sitting here eating my brains about the outcome of this event. If what is reported here is true, then I believe that we are all headed to jail someday.

Posted by: Who Cares | January 25, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Connecticut... I don't think their tree goes all the way to the top branch...

Posted by: Manfred | January 25, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I think that in sexual relation animals better than the some humans' .animals know the sex and do it. But my question is 'why human do that this behaviour?'

Posted by: Elias | January 26, 2007 12:11 AM | Report abuse

someone hs to have contacted the big papers about this???

also what is the prosecutors email address?

Posted by: joe | January 26, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Dateline NBC should be all over this - they seem to be quite interested in cybercrimes these days. They recently covered another travesty where a 16-year-old boy was busted in Arizona for child porn, all because of a similarly compromised PC.
Completely disturbing miscarriage of justice.

Posted by: Reb | January 26, 2007 1:22 AM | Report abuse

What has happened to justice and equally in the US ? huh...

Posted by: Isoy | January 26, 2007 1:40 AM | Report abuse

I am simply disgusted with the obvious in-competency of the defense attorney.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | January 26, 2007 2:39 AM | Report abuse

This is a general problem with prosecutors across the country. Since most of them are using the office as a springboard to higher office, they do a lot of hysterical grandstanding and are more interested in winning than in the concept of justice.

I would rank this guy with Mike Nifong and Tony Rauckackas (the Orange County, CA DA) as the scum of the earth in being willing to ruin an obviously innocent person's life for their own corrupt sense of narcissistic glory. This was a disgrace.

Posted by: Gary | January 26, 2007 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Have one thing in mind. This is the way the prosecuters work. They only care to find evidence of your crime, and ignore proof of your innocence. They get credit by convicting you, and they don't know much (nor care) about the information tehnology. There were so many cases like this one in the news, and in most of the cases, they didn't care much about justice, at least not before the story became the center of attention in the news.

Posted by: Justin | January 26, 2007 4:36 AM | Report abuse

Why not get the Whistling WEASEL Gang to torture this teacher with poisons for a decade or more just to be on the safe side? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________The open and notorious Whistling WEASEL Gang poisonings are now a fact of life in America and the police and government do not seem inclined to stop it.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Lots of money in hysteria!
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
.

Posted by: Avraam Jack | January 26, 2007 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Thee teacher should (has a duty to) sue the school for have such a hazardous piece of equipment in the classroom.

Posted by: Russell | January 26, 2007 5:23 AM | Report abuse

As an IT Professional I am astonished how this poor woman was convicted by a jury that obviously knew little about technology. While WinXP PC is not immune from today's sophisticated viruses and worms, imagine how Win98 PC connected to the internet without up to date antivirus/firewall is an easy target. Even Microsoft stopped support for Win98 in July 2006. The school should be held responsible for failure to provide security for any of its computers connected to the wild internet. This is miscarriage of justice.

Posted by: Jason | January 26, 2007 5:59 AM | Report abuse

I have no blogged on this miscarriage of justice, and urge others to spread the word.

http://terablog.blogspot.com

Posted by: ntguru@iname.com | January 26, 2007 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Please forward this story to your lawyer friends if you have any--maybe they would know something we don't about what could be done!

What a contradiction! A case completely based in the technical realm, and technical evidence is refused??

Posted by: Elijah | January 26, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Jon said:

"I can't wait to she gets found innocent and sues for defamation of character"

Unfortunately, no amount of damages can makeup for the presumption of guilt, stained reputation, embarrassment and sheer 'let down' she has endured :-(

Hassan

Posted by: Hassan | January 26, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

This is seriously whacked out people! Blaming ANY person for popups is just plane stupid /idiotic / dumb / childish / positivly insane / and totally 100% wrong!!! How on earth can they arrest / accuse a person of something/anything because of pop-ups... Whao... scary... plane old scary...

That poor lady! I hope the people that accused her gets sued and pay her an enormous amount of money for the injustice that they have caused!!!

Posted by: Dawie Joubert | January 26, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

This poor woman is being persecuted, and the school administration is to blame. It is the responsibility of the administration to ensure that the IT staff is doing its job, and that includes having safe and up-to-date computer equipment and software, and proper filtering in place. In fact, they are required by federal law to protect students and adults from porn. Has that principal never heard of CIPA? And please don't say that the the poor school couldn't afford expensive Internet filtering. I recently retired from a tech coordinator position in a small rural Maine school, and my primary concern was keeping the kids safe when they used the web. There are free or nearly free applications that can be used if someone takes the trouble to find them. The middle level teachers, the principal and I met weekly to address any concerns about improper use of the computer systems. Put the blame where it lies - with the administration, starting with the principal, and on up through the superintendent and school board, not with the substitute teacher who is being made the scapegoat.

Posted by: tc | January 26, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Connecticut has just proven itself one of the most IT ignorant and backwards states of the US.

Posted by: Liz | January 26, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Turning a computer off does not always get rid of this type of material. What if she had turned the computer off and the returning teacher found it and reported it. Julie would still be in serious trouble.

School officials had the school's protection ware updated shortly after the incident. If they had fulfilled their responsibilities prior to the incident, none of this would have ever happened.

It's hard to believe that the community's citizens are so ignorant or stubborn that they can't figure this out.

Posted by: Liz | January 26, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

One more reason schools should be using Open Source Software, (ie. Linux).
It´s Free, it costs nothing to maintain up-to-date, is more stable, more secure, and is not susceptible to spyware and adware written for Windows computers.

This case is ridiculous.
I hope Mrs. Amero wins on appeal and p0wns that principle and district superintendent, etc.

Posted by: tony | January 26, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I would like everyone who has expressed surprise by the behavior of this court to think hard about what happens in worse situations like murder trials. Everyone here realized this woman is getting railroaded. Evidence was suppressed, police word was taken to be absolute by the jury and an innocent person probably got convicted.

I have personally seen it happen in worse situations to others. America needs to wake up. While many are guilty and need punishment. This womans situation, suppression of exculpatory evidence and unreasonable conviction is NOT the exception in our courts!! This is standard operating procedure.

Everyone here who was surprised by this is a good person who, like I used to be, is not understanding the situation. Pay very very close attention to our courts, we are in trouble!

Posted by: doesn't matter | January 26, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

BURN THE WITCH!!! People need to point the blame at someone, and this innocent woman is the perfect scapegoat. I hope this all blows over and the people who are both responsible for the problem and for tarnishing her reputation are publicly embarassed in front of the rest of the nation. We should all make examples out of them. I'll bet Ms. Amero will be awared a substantial sum of money when this is all over for her suffering and humiliation. She deserves it, at the very least.

About a year ago, I ended up having to remove spyware and adware from a local business's computers that was popping up some rather rude messages and images for the reception staff to deal with. This was on a couple of Windows XP Professional machines with the latest antivirus updates and Windows/IE security fixes installed. Luckily, the business owner wasn't an asshat and understood that these things can sometimes Just Happen.

I ended up spending several days at that business cleaning those machines. One of the machines was so badly infected, I ended up working on it from about an hour or so before close of business until a few hours past start of business the next morning.

Once the machines were all cleaned, I created a new security policy there (everyone there had Administrator privileges on the machines), locked down IE's security settings, and educated everyone there about just how malware works and how it is spread. They haven't had any issues since.

The real culprits guilty of endangering children are the people in charge of IT at the school. They're the ones who should be prosecuted and imprisoned.

Posted by: Christopher Parker | January 26, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Were this travesty...err trial, to take place in my glorious homeland of Iraq, someone would, no doubt, have already had the good sense to shoot the judge and decapitate the prosecuting attorney. Maybe a suicide bomber could take them both out with the jury to boot? American justice clearly isn't working.

Posted by: Saddam | January 26, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The Governor, Legislator, School Administration, Police, and Prosecutors, and Judge, in this case are Disrespectfull of the Constitution, Natural Law, International Law, Comparative Law, All American Traditions, Amoral and Incompetent. All Should be Punished, and given the same sentences these Liars gave the Innocent teacher. Thats how the Bible reccommends dealing with Liars. No Decent Legal System prevents defendents from presenting Evidence of Innocence, except some Kangaroo Court Systems, Communist and Nazi Law Systems. Yale University, and now, seemingly the whole state, has always been Proto-Nazi.

Frankly, this demonstrates the Need to Repeal the Possee Commitatus Act, and appoint Military Governors, as during US Civil War Reconstruction Period, to run Incompetent, poorly educated, poorly read, semi-literate, Emmanuel Kant's deciples ran States.

Where are the so-called Christian and Jewish Clergymen, in this matter of horrific unethical, injustice? Moses' Tithes of 10% were to support Moses' Social Security Program, not fancy religious digs, fancy chiors, fancy clergy salaries, or worse yet, to give to the Rich, like George W. Bush does with Federal Funds. Read Amos, the first in time of the post-Davidian Phrophets, and how Amos condemns the blood sucking economic policys, exhummed by GW Bush. In the first century AD/CE synogoges, on which churches were based, recieved only 4.5% to 5.0%, seperately from, or in addition to the Tithes.

Posted by: Xeno77777 | January 26, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I helped my mother-in-law attach a printer to her computer a few years ago. She had taken some computer classes, and knew how to use MS Office, and surf the net, etc. She could do basic stuff, but not super computer saavy as most users. No idea what a command shell is, .exe, .pif, etc.

About a week later, she told me that I broken her computer. She couldn't access the Internet. I laughed, and thought computer newbies always blame the last computer "expert" of any problems that touched their computer. I just installed a printer that was already on her machine --- no big deal.

She lived about 45 minutes away from us. After some griping and maybe a month, I happen to be in the area and decided to stop by and help her out.

We turned on the computer, and instantly pop ups. It looked like Times Square. Lots of obnoxious, flashing ads. Some sexual explicit, some for money schemes, etc. My jaw dropped, I started attempting to regain control of the system by closing windows, more would pop up. It was insane --- the computer was close to unusable in this state.

I think the system was Me or 98. Anyway, I somehow was able to kill the applications. And then I went on a hunting for bad .exe files, and started deleting them by hand.

Nowadays, I am sure the harddisk would need to be wiped, due to a root kit being installed, but back then deleting .exes worked well. After several hours, I had the computer cleaned up; atleast there was no more pop ups, etc.

Luckily she had dialup service, if she had broadband I would needed to unplug it from the wall, to prevent more malware from being installed.

This woman is not guilty of anything, and put into an incredible situation that few would know how to handle. Does the school provide emergency training for fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters? What sort of training is offered for Internet disasters.

I'd love to see the judge or prosecutor attempt to deal with my mother-in-laws computer.

B.S.

Posted by: Similar Incident... | January 26, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I followed some other links to this story and found this one that has information by the computer expert that was not allowed to testify in the trial:

http://www.networkperformancedaily.com/2007/01/the_strange_case_of_ms_julie_a_1.html

Posted by: Doug | January 26, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I can't tell who is dumber. the teacher, the cop, the lawyers, the judge or the local media ?

It's a complete breakdown of technological literacy.

Posted by: chris | January 26, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a typical public school to me-No one helps the substitute, neither principal nor teacher; outdated computers with compromised security, as well as outdated textbooks and curriculum. Just another day in paradise

Posted by: retired teacher | January 26, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I read recent publications in ABC and Fox news about
16 years old boy in Arizona and his criminal case.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=bizarre&id=4935302


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,244009,00.html

I send you again links to publications about my case.
I was forced to confess to the
possession of internet digital pictures of porn in deleted clusters of
my computer hard drive. My browser was hijacked while I was browsing
the web. I was redirected to illegal sites against my will. Some
illegal pictures were found on my hard drive, recovering in
unallocated clusters, without dates of file creation/download.

I do not know how courts can widely press these charges on people to
convict them, while the whole Internet is a mess.

This is my story in inquisition21.com. There is all
information about case written by Irish writer Brian
Rothery. You can see a lot of violations of law by police

http://www.inquisition21.com/article~view~7~page_num~3.html

This is publication in Wired news

http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,63391,00.html

This is publication in Theregester

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/05/13/browser_hijacking_risks/

Article in Globe and Mail newspaper
http://ctv.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040617.gttwhijac17/tech/Technology/techBN/ctv-technology

Article in ZDnet
http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1105_2-5344831.html

This is article in Washington Times, May 22, 2004
There is information about my case.

http://www.cato.org/cgi-bin/scripts/printtech.cgi/dailys/05-30-04.html

Article in Crime research center:

http://www.crime-research.org/news/07.22.2004/506/

Article in Dallas, TX Newspaper

http://www.crime-research.org/news/24.12.2004/862/

Child porn law was declared unconstitutional in Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA'
http://xbiz.com/news_piece.php?id=11750


Posted by: fima fimovich | January 26, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It's to bad that the teacher couldn't have gotten a "substitute" judical system.

Geesh.....

Posted by: Not2Funny | January 26, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Did anybody notice the hugh security violation in letting a substitute teacher use another persons password? Most places have an end user policy that this type of practice violates and would be grounds for disciplinary action. If the teacher is guilty then I think that the owner of the password, Manager of the desktops and whoever is ultimately responsible for the security of the network should be on trial next.

Posted by: CISSP | January 26, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Now that I'm thinking about, the proxy logs would all have the other teachers credentials. The Substitute didn't even have an account. How can there be any evidence of this person using the computer at all?

She should have said it never happened and made them prove that she was logged on to that PC.

I guess it's guilty until proven innocent!!

Posted by: CISSP | January 26, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Uneducated comment above.
Blaming the school or IT department???
The only person to blame is the prosecutor, jury and judge. Don't pass the blame.
No, sharing teacher passwords with substitutes is not good, but to create a new account every time a sub will be needed on a workstation is not realistic. I don't know about the Connecticut school district, but the district I work for gets hundreds of subs a day. With such a small IT staff what are you going to do? Create new users accounts all morning while other things need attending. I said it once. I will say it again. All school districts are the same. A very small IT staff managing many computers. Often a 600 to 1 ratio. Do you really think the IT manager has time to keep track of teachers sharing passwords, updating software, software patches, spyware sweeps, cleaning viruses, managing servers, fixing computers, reloading operating systems and a thousand other duties not including desktop support to help someone realize there monitor is not plugged in, or forgotten passwords, broken mice, software training..... please!

I also read a comment about running "free unlicensed versions" of Linux. Apparently this user has never worked with free versions of Linux on a large network in a school environment, not to mention a trained Linux staff to work for peanuts. - Get real! Sounds good, but not realistic. Before anyone blames the poor IT staff that most likely does the best with what they have to work with; learn a little about what we do all day. The next time you take four hours to clear the spyware off your computer at home (fdisk), think of endless rooms full of computers with the same problem.

Run some free anti spyware programs?
Who's going to install them? Who will manage them and update them?

Enterprise spyware solutions?
Sure, its only money - oh, what money!

Hire some more staff?
Sorry, referendum didn't go through, no money. You voted against it.

Talk to the school board composed of mostly retired housewives?
"Oh, we don't need software, we need new playground equipment", that's what the parents want.

Please don't blame the IT staff unless you really know you are talking about.
And the only way to know is to work for one.

Posted by: Ouch | January 26, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I am completely amazed at the number of posts on this story and their nearly unanimous perpsective that the entire incident was blown way out of proportion - which it has been.
I wonder whether the parents who brought the complaints a) have protection software on their home computers; b) have a whisper of common sense; and c) have ever considered the circumstances of this incident and considered speaking out in defense of this poor woman.
If she goes to jail for one minute, this is the case that should mobilize people everywhere to show up and protest (arrogant stupidity) non-stop until the woman is free. Forty years is the equivalent of a death sentence.
One lesson might be: Never volunteer.

Posted by: Tim | January 26, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

this used to be such a wide spread problem with may folks computers, that there was even an online game made about pop up blocking. its crazy that someone in this situation can be put away. i hope she beats it.

Posted by: nasty | January 26, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Response to Ouch;
Obviously you type without thought and before thoroughly reading. The statement I made was "If the teacher is guilty...." So either you are saying that you feel that she has been tried justly or are just unable to process sarcasm.

The point is that the school should be protecting the children, staff and equipment. If you think budget constraints are an acceptable reason to neglect security you are truly distant from real world. Let's dissect your statements just for fun....

-Ouch says 'With such a small IT staff what are you going to do? Create new users accounts all morning while other things need attending.'

You obviously are not familiar with security policies. If you do not have time, then the policy should state that subs do not get computer access. I couldn't imagine giving a stranger access to my network without some sort of audit trail. How do these strangers know what all of the files, printers and programs are? Somebody has had some time to train them. I bet it's the same subs in the same district over and over. In the worst case scenario, lets create a generic sub account with limited access. I know you're busy but take the extra 2 minutes and ratchet down a little!

-Ouch says 'A very small IT staff managing many computers. Often a 600 to 1 ratio. Do you really think the IT manager has time to keep track of teachers sharing passwords, updating software, software patches, spyware sweeps, cleaning viruses, managing servers, fixing computers, reloading operating systems and a thousand other duties not including desktop support to help someone realize there monitor is not plugged in, or forgotten passwords, broken mice, software training..... please'

I work in an environment with 3000 computers. Myself and 1 other person manage the entire network. Welcome to the 90's my friend but updating security patches is free from Microsoft either via the web or SUS. Most corporate Anti-viruses also work with a central repository. Cleaning viruses seems to be because you have not sacrificed the few for the good of the many and have spent your time on things other than creating central management for the core security applications. Reloading an OS, Hmm...Microsoft RIS seems to come to mind. PXE boot has been around for a long time. Instead of running around all day putting out fires you should address the major flaws of your design and you might have more time to audit and train.

-Ouch says 'The next time you take four hours to clear the spyware off your computer at home (fdisk), think of endless rooms full of computers with the same problem.'

If I had Spyware on my PC at home it would be because I allowed the PC to access a site with malware on it. Obviously from the article (that you probably did not read completely) referred to some sort of timestamped logs that means that they have either a firewall or a proxy. Either way you can whitelist/blacklist sites and once again, based on the policy you will either be granted or denied access to the site. It sounds like your experience tends to run you around in circles always trying to catch up. The things that I have suggested are very simple and if you are really taking 4 hours to clean room after room of PC's you would be much better off trying to eliminate the problem. Identify the root cause - troubleshooting 101.

-Ouch says 'Please don't blame the IT staff unless you really know you are talking about.
And the only way to know is to work for one.'

I do work in the IT industry. Once again, you skimmed over the text and skipped immediately to your rant, the post name CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) implies that the person typing is in the IT industry. I have a feeling from your post that you also work in the IT industry. I would suggest spending more time implementing technology and less time posting if your network is really that jacked up. I don't believe that your lackadaisical approach to security and administration is true of most public schools.

** I sure hope that you don't work for the schools because your grammar and spelling really suck!!

Posted by: CISSP | January 26, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

CISSP,

I want to see you do all this in an environment where all the computers are running Win98 and are located in thirty or forty separate physical locations, each many miles from one another -- in other words, in your typical public school IT environment.

Ouch isn't lackadaisical, just realistic. School systems are notoriously underfunded when it comes to technology. Inevitably, hardware and software solutions are purchased for their cost, not their technology and usefulness. Not every school district is Fairfax County or Montgomery County.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

This issue needs as much publicity as we can generate! All rationaly thinking persons who know of this situation have a duty to raise a stink about it. I just sent a letter to the editor of the NY Times. Friends: send more letters!

Posted by: Evan | January 26, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, C.I.S.S.P. You so F.U.N.N.Y.!

You write:

"** I sure hope that you don't work for the schools because your grammar and spelling really suck!!"

And then you write:

"Myself and 1 other person manage the entire network."

Really? Just the two of you? Awesome!

You know, though, I'm thinking that maybe once in a while you get too much Diet Coke in you -- it's understandable, you're a CRISPY, after all -- and instead of saying, "Myself and 1 other person..." you say proudly, "Myself manage the entire network." With that, you demonstrate both your virtually unstoppable IT skills as well as your nuanced grammatical stylings, which would shame Tarzan.

Posted by: Cookie Monster | January 27, 2007 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Jury Duty, I feel it is my personal duty to serve when called. And when I do serve, I keep in mind that one of the chief duties of the jury is to not allow the misapplication of the law. The jury must not allow the letter of the law to be used to unjustly punish an otherwise inocent person, the judge will tell the jury they must follow the letter of the law as the judge explains it to the jury, BUT the jury must evaluate everything they see and hear and make sure that TRUE justice is served and find the person not guilty if the law is misapplied or is unfair on its face.

Posted by: Dave | January 27, 2007 2:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm an Network Engineer by trade and feel this is absolute rediculous. I don't blame the teacher at all, but rather the school. With spyware and adware being the # cause of popups and stolen information, how could you blame the teacher for something she did not physically cause. Plus, The schools network should have implemented a simple but effective antispyware/virus and content filtering solution. I have tons of clients which utilize backend hardware solutions known as Proxy's or firewalls. Manufacturers as: sonicwall, watchguard and Iprism uses just such technologies. They intercept traffic that attempts to push specific content groups which IT admins set up. Therefore allowing or denying depending if sites get flagged. It is not something that manageable at the pc level. That in conjuntion with Spysweeper Enterprise will virtually keep you pc free of spyware and adware and prevent the access of porn sites. You could even take it a further level if you prevent the downloading of any Executable or zip files which include: .exe, bat, msi, zip, vbs, cab, rar. This will eliminate the download of any applications which could accidently be installed on the pc by non experienced users.
The point is being that this is a school, wouldn't you think it would appropriate to have this type of solution to prevent kids from viewing porn. I think so.

Posted by: Anthony | January 28, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The school systems are to quick to judge. They get so excited when they think they've caught someone in a wrong that they act without even thinking. Our school personal should be monitored and watched, but when they are suspected of doing wrong should not be hung wether or not all the evidence is aloud in. That just shows you they were to anxious to punish her. They didn't even want to hear the actual evidence. Things like this give a to anxious administration a chance to use their power and all to often it's just to get attention and throw around their authority. They need to grow up and look at the facts.

Posted by: Jerika | January 28, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"Firefox prevented this site from opening a pop-up window"

Sounds like the school is trying hard to shift attention away from the fact that they're using out of date *everything* with expired licenses.

All I can say is:

Linux

Firefox

Ad-Aware

SpyBot

FREE FREE FREE

This woman is obviously being railroaded so the school's administration won't look like the clueless, dimwitted boobs they are. (oops - did I say "boobs" - aaaggghhh!)

Posted by: NonGrata | January 28, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

@AltPOV
I concur with your analysis. I have a great deal of experience being "railroaded" While I am merely an educated end user I find it baffling that anyone let alone a school system would trust Windows 98 at all.
The system has been out so long that it has had more than sufficient time to be exploited to the fullest.
That this was even brought to court is beyond my kin.
@ all unemployed people bashers:
Knock it off! Just because a person is out of work it doesn't make them stupid or incompetent. To say that jurors consist of out of work idiots is just plain ignorant. This further enforces AltPOV statements.
Let the burnings begin.
nuff said

Posted by: nuffsaid | January 29, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Where do you go from here? Now this is being debated on FOX News, by equally ill-informed former prosecutors, parroting all the same baloney that is SO WRONG, it's inconceivable.
http://www.foxnews.com/video2/launchPage.html?012807/012807_wl_kendall&Kelly%27s%20Court&Weekend_Live&Teacher%20faces%20prison%20for%20porn%2C%20but%20was%20it%20just%20pop-ups%3F&Law%20Center&-1&Kelly%27s%20Court&Video%20Launch%20Page&News
In this interview, Lis Wiehl admits straight out that she knows NOTHING about computers, but somehow she's still qualified to give an opinion. Put some duct tape on these idiots' mouths, please, before they dumb any more people up! ...Shaking head in absolute disbelief...

Posted by: Rob | January 29, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I am a systems admin in a public school in NJ and all I can is two things to say, Sonicwall & Auto updates...

-Rick

PS- She is being used as a scape goat!

Posted by: Alias Designz | January 29, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Un-fricking-believable. What a sorry DA those people have. And what a stupid inept INEXCUSABLE defense team/lawyer.

This is just so outrageous! These people ought to be horsewhipped and humiliated. It will be up to the press to keep the pressure on these stupid luddite puritanical ignorant lemmings.

Posted by: Disgusted at DA & Jury stupidity!!!! | January 29, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

It is salem witch hunt time, McCarthyism, red scare, modern claims of occult blood sacrifices, McMartin Preschool and inquisition all rolled into one....these people are so stupid they do not even know they are beyond satire -- you could not write this as fiction and have it believed.

Please do not allow this to drop. This woman needs the ACLU NEA to come to her defense with the most powerful top high-powered attorneys -- can't ABC NBC CBS CNN Court TV Catherine Crier Rikki Kleiman .... anyone get this out in the airwaves and get enough people to contribute to this woman's appeal/defense fund? We are living in a place as stupid and superstitious as the ones we claim to be spreading democracy to -- and all we do there is murder and imprison them. What a bunch of hypocritical crap this country perpetuates here and abroad. We ought to be ashamed that we elect and allow such prosecutors and elected officials and their lobbyists and corporate string pullers to keep doing this kind of fascist anti-democratic horse-doo-doo. We have fallen into through and beyond the looking glass.

Posted by: perversityinamerica.com | January 29, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

This poor woman panicked, that was her only error but certainly no crime.

Is there somewhere one can go to sign a petition on her behalf?

Posted by: IQatEdo | January 30, 2007 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Hm. I don't know. When something sounds THIS stupid, I assume there's something missing from the story.

Posted by: S. Weasel | January 30, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I really feel sorry for this person. While some would argue that the problem was not pulling the plug, I can totally see the panic setting in; there is also some need for criminal intent. And because Porn and Children are involved, of course Fox will bring its 'fair and balanced' view...

Posted by: DBH | January 30, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I checked the Fox news link above, thanks Rob.
This prominent attorney Mercedes Colwin has lost all my respect. Is she an idiot or is she just playing the good cop bad cop routine. She should really keep her mouth shut on national tv unless she actually knows how spyware works. And these cops who looked at her computer, they are a joke. They are trained to uses software tools, most of which are lacking, and they poses no real computer forensic skills. I know because I have worked with them and I know the scope of their training. It's like comparing a master ASE certified mechanic to the Lube Right boy.

I do admit that the teacher should have turned the monitor off, but I see people here where I work, that cant find the switch to shut if off. I compare it to having a fire, and the teacher not figuring out how to work the fire extinguisher - stupid, but it can happen.
We figure anyone can work one of those things. Panic causes memory pause.

And what about the 40 years? What idiot makes these laws anyway?
I'm not sure, but I think I could kill someone and get about that. Or maybe rape a few people, less time? Rob a bank, only about 20 years??? I have seen news stories where child molesters get less than 10 years. Working with malicious code, spyware and viruses is part of my profession, and knowing what I know makes this story even more outrageous.

This makes me ashamed to believe that we have the best judicial system in the world.

Posted by: Hack boy | January 30, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

If the concerned authorities were aware about the technology and security issues related to computer system, this incidence would have not occurred.

I think more awareness has to be spread through some public-private-LEA partnership to avoid such incidences in future. It can spoil someone's career by being innocent.

Posted by: Vicky D. Shah | January 30, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

This is a shocking case which demonstrates the extent to which tech illiteracy combined with abusive prosecution can destroy the lives of innocent people

I've blogger about the case here as

The strange case of julie amero

And what it comes down with cases like this is we need a seperate branch of courts for cases hinging on technology and literate juries

Posted by: O. Deus | January 30, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

For those who are technically incompitent and do not have a coat to throw over the monitor and do not know how to unplug a computer. Just toss it out the window. After all if it is out of control it must be a "windows box."

Posted by: joe | January 30, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I am confused - why do ? computer literate ? people try to close pop ups? If you are a Windows user wouldn't you know never to click on a pop up but rather use the magic "Ctrl alt del?"

Posted by: joe | January 30, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

When is enough enough for Bill Gates? How many lives does his crappy software have to ruin before the great humanitarian pulls the plug on his substandard products?

Posted by: Rick | January 30, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Years ago, when I was a newbie on the Internet, I was having a good time typing made up URLs into the address bar to see where they would take me. I was only getting started learning the Internet, and didn't know the hazards.

I'm a cat-lover, so I tried out various addresses like cat.com, kitty.com, kitty-cat.net etc. (I did NOT try the "p" word.)

But one of those innocent feline terms took me to a porn site, and the darned thing kept popping up other windows when I tried to X it, just as the above article described. Naturally I didn't know what to do, being a newbie, and I was one outraged, freaked out little lady.

Another time, a few years later, I was surfing on the kids' homework help page of a well-known search engine, and there was a banner ad at the top promising a wonderful surprise. Suspicious and wondering what surprise was being offered to kids, I clicked it, and guess what? I'm sure you've guessed it.

And it was really EEEEEEEW! I mean, perversely, grossly yucky. And again there were the never-ending pop-ups.

I reported it to the search engine company immediately, labeling the e-mail as URGENT. The company thanked me, and explained that somebody had maliciously hacked their site and placed the evil banner on the kids' page.

So even if you "deliberately" click on a porn link, or put the address into the address box yourself, that doesn't mean that you knew it would take you to pornography. The vile and mischievious think it's a gas to link people to porn against their will through innocent-sounding web addresses and links.

My husband owns a lot of legitimate websites. Sometimes he's let certain domain names lapse and in at *least* one case that I know of, the domain was taken over and turned into the address of a porn site. I don't recall the domain name, but it was totally innocent sounding. The domain was originally a proper educational website dealing with liberty or philosophy or politics or economics or science (the subjects my husband deals in), certainly not porn. And naturally, anyone who was accustomed to visiting the site who still had the address in their favorites list would have gotten a shock if they visited after the URL had changed hands.

Someone wanting to read about, oh... economist and ethicist Adam Smith, might click and take a surprise ride to ugly, vomitorious porn, because a trash-monger had taken over the address.

(By the way, if you have a great educational site in your "favorites" list that you want to give to an under-aged friend,you might want to click that link if you haven't tried it in a while. You don't want to risk being accused of sending the child to someplace illegal.)

There are a variety of ways that a squeaky-clean innocent can "deliberately" click on a porn link and be taken to a malicious site. As a result, there's "evidence" left on the computer log that the person has visited a porn site. Maybe even a kiddie porn site. There may even be a malicious installation of porn on the computer.

What a nightmare when the legal system isn't up on the REAL criminal behavior that creates these situations, and locks up the victims.

Posted by: Tallulahhdahling | January 31, 2007 4:19 AM | Report abuse

just saw the Fox clip, what an ignorant, idiotic assessment by Lis Wiehl, she should learn something before expounding. But Fox always has to argue both sides in order to be 'fair' even when it isn't, so I hope she doesn't really feel that way, just was a shill for the prosecutors side of the 'debate'...

Posted by: dbh | January 31, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Witch trials move to Conn.

The story begins in seventeenth-century Boston, then a Puritan settlement. A young woman, Hester Prynne, is led from the town prison with her infant daughter, Pearl, in her arms and the scarlet letter "A" on her breast. A man in the crowd tells an elderly onlooker that Hester is being punished for adultery. Hester's husband, a scholar much older than she is, sent her ahead to America, but he never arrived in Boston. The consensus is that he has been lost at sea. While waiting for her husband, Hester has apparently had an affair, as she has given birth to a child. She will not reveal her lover's identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy. On this day Hester is led to the town scaffold and harangued by the town fathers, but she again refuses to identify her child's father.

Posted by: How do you know that she is a Witch? | January 31, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I have lived in USA, but I never learn to understand your behavior.
You make thousands of porn movies every year, demand for freedom of speech AND GET CRAZY when you or your kids see pictures of naked people. I would laugh if the case would not be so serious for the poor teacher.
Perhaps she should have taken her skirt off to cover the pictures?

Posted by: Finn | February 1, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I have also been the victim of these ridiculous pop-up ads and spyware in general. I highly doubt that a 40-year old substitute teacher was surfing for porn while trying to handle a classroom full of 7th graders (remember these kids are 13 years old). How can the judge and jury overlook something that happens all of the time (i.e. computer hacking and phishing), and throw all of the technical evidence out that was provided by the defense. This sounds like there is either some sort of hidden adgenda going on or these people who are prosecuting are idiots. This story horrifies me and proves that we are moving closer to a Communist society. If this lady faces even a single day of imprisonment, the judge, jury and prosecution should all be labotamized.

Posted by: Bob B | February 1, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't understand why it was just Julie on trial. From what I have read on the various websites she requested help from the reception desk and it was declined, another site said she went to the teachers lounge and no one there offered any assistance and one teacher even said it was very common. One of your commentators asked why they were running Windows 98 and using an out of date version of IE. IE is free! Why wasn't it updated? The firewall is believed to have been turned off and the anti porn site filter had expired. Surely that suggests the IT person needs a lot of explaining to do. So why is it only Julie on trial, the fact the reception refused to help, the other teachers actually encouraged it, and the IT manager was "flawed" in his IT management means they all aided and abetted a crime.
Also, why did the Prosecutor say she should have turned off the computer when reports state she wasn't allowed to.
She is a temporary employee and as such her job depends on strictly following the rules. She was instructed to not turn off the computer of log it out, so that is what she did. Why wasn't the person who issued the instruction on trial as well?
And why did the Police block the presentation of evidence which would have shown Julie was innocent? Couldn't they have asked for a copy of the new evidence and time to send it to their own analysts for comment?

Posted by: Stephen C. | February 2, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

This is appauling. Simply speaking the substitute should NOT be punished for this at all. I was and still am very computer illiterate and have had pop ups come on that are inappropriate as well. Not to mention the fact that I was browsing for a rose bush called Dolly Parton, and used the search engine rose bush dolly parton, and had several sites come up that I thought by the discription a place to get the rose bush and instead was porn sites and meet your mate type sites. Amero sorry you are going through this, and government wonders why public education is disappearing!

Posted by: former educator | February 3, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I have just heard about this case. I live in Luxembourg (Europe) and I am
amazed at the lack of knowledge that has led to this injustice.
The School Board and the Schools IT department should have been on trial but
not Julie Amero.
How the State prosecutor Davis Smith allowed this case to proceed should
result in his resignation
Shame on Norwich Conn.

Posted by: GRAHAM pOLLARD | February 4, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Police reject candidate for being too intelligent

A US man has been rejected in his bid to become a police officer for scoring too high on an intelligence test.

Robert Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took an exam to join the New London police, in Connecticut, in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125.

But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

Mr Jordan launched a federal lawsuit against the city, but lost.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court's decision that the city did not discriminate against Mr Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

He said: "This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class. I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else."

He said he does not plan to take any further legal action and has worked as a prison guard since he took the test.

The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

Posted by: Anon | February 5, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

This is unbelievable. I run a team of Forensic investigators and know that Mr. Horner must be pulling his hair out. I can not believe that our legal system would allow an innocent person to be railroaded like this. As an X Special Agent and Law Enforcement Officer I am embarrased to read what happened to this poor lady. I had least hope that the "Expert" examiner that the local PD used was certified in some way and not just some cop that could use a piece of forensic software.

Posted by: Kevin McLaughin | February 7, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Americans love scapegoats, someone to exorcise their petty moralistic outrage upon -- preferably someone weak, who can't fire them or put them in jail (ie, NOT a judge or politician or capitalist). A substitute teacher will do nicely!

Posted by: Immanuel Kant | February 7, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I found a defence fund for Julie at

http://julieamer.blogspot.com/

note that's not a typo. Don't know why the name is missing a letter (must be a 9 letter restriction?) but that's unimportant. Let's help her!

Posted by: Sandy C. | February 7, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Kevin McKaughlin wrote [he hopes] "that the 'Expert' examiner that the local PD used was certified in some way and not just some cop that could use a piece of forensic software."

Sadly Kevin, just a cop using some software is exactly what happened.

Lindasy Beyerstein wrote "At trial, a police witness for the prosecution claimed that Amero must have 'physically clicked' on porn links to generate the popup storm. In fact the software that the police used to analyze Amero's hard drive cannot distinguish between a user's clicks and automatic redirects caused by malicious software. Under cross-examination the officer admitted that he never even checked for malware. " http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lindsay-beyerstein/connecticut-teacher-facin_b_39384.html

far more detail can be found at http://sunbeltblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by: viagra 6 free samples | February 7, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Recognize the implications. Henceforth, whenever a technology system in a school fails and a student is accidentally exposed to pornography, the supervision teacher or the tech director will be arrested and sent to prison.

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Posted by: viagra substitute | February 8, 2007 3:36 AM | Report abuse

The last few posts on here are a BLATANT example of automated programs that can affect this BLOG. The ignorance of a public school system at THIS level, then reinforced by that of the local authorities is abhorrent! Where is the PROOF that this person is guilty? The only facts are that pornographic materials were on the computer. Did anyone even ask WHY she would "subject children" to pornographic material on purpose? Is there any malicious intent?

My biggest concern here is for the precedent it sets. Will other states use this nonsense as an excuse to fire, or jail people they don't like? Imagine the harm that can be done by the abuse of legal power! I hope this gets completely reveresed, that she sues the local authorities and school system and wins. A few angry, ignorant parents should not be allowed to have this much power over a teacher, even if everything is TRUE. There's due process to be followed and at least from the outside, looks like a miscarriage of justice.

A concerned reader

Posted by: Me | February 13, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Yet another IT professional. No way she should be responsible for the popups, maybe could have put a folder or paper over the screen, but still it's way too common. I just can't believe she was found guilty. Still shaking my head...

Posted by: CW | February 13, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

A brief scan of the news of the day led me to the story of Julie Amero. My initial reaction was "How great a tragedy that someone's life has been turned upside-down by an act not within her control." Moreover, facing the idea of up to 40 years in prison for it -- even if this were a true crime, is this a legitimate punishment?

I thought that before I go out and start my own crusade to "Free Julie Amero," it would be appropriate for me to get a few more facts about the case. A quick Googling and that's just what I got when I read your piece. I'm truly baffled by the lack of knowledge, understanding, and the willingness to accept the truth about the Internet: it PREYS on people like Mrs. Amero -- constantly entering into our personal space (i.e. - our computer hard drives) carrying out tasks without showing itself, loading unwanted, harmful software and "toolbars" that do nothing but collect more data to use for commercial purposes, steal personal information, and slow your computer down to a snail's pace. And for this, we get the first American teacher to face up to 40 years in prison - yes, prison -- for something where from the facts the readers of "Windows for Dummies" could derive "reasonable doubt."

This country needs to do something about the high-jacking of John and Jane Doe's privacy. Companies and individuals alike are force-feeding us more junk mail, circulars, pop-up ads and unwanted email then EVER. If porn, print advertising, spam and the software programs that generate it all didn't pump BILLIONS of the Almighty Dollar into the economy, we'd all be standing at the steps of Capitol Hill demanding that our elected officials -- who supposedly represent our best interests -- put an end to it all. No, REALLY, put an end to it all!

And lo, the proponents stand behind the cloaks of "free enterprise" and my personal favorite, "free speech." Ah, the good 'ol Constitution....

But what if no one wants to hear it?

Julie Amero is a sacrificial lamb to the Gods of Ignorance and Enterprise, while the greater good of the Internet continues to bear a world-wide-bad-rapp.

And Johnny Cochran is furiously tossing in his grave.

Posted by: Christopher | February 14, 2007 2:56 AM | Report abuse

Christopher-

To help Julie with her outragous legal bills, a defense fund has been set up at http://julieamer.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Jesse | February 14, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is that this is not an isolated incidence. A similar thing happened to one of my high school teachers in Minnesota, and rather than go through with the trial he pled guilty.

It's pretty much ruined his entire life, and they still have him going through hearings and all, even though he's done his jail time.

Posted by: Sean Froyd | February 14, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

All parents running virus infected windows computers who have ever been subject to a popup bomb in front of your children are henceforth ordered to present yourselves to your local police station for processing.

There, that should help with the traffic problem for my morning commute. And just think of all the jobs that will be available for building prisons.

Posted by: Jacques | February 14, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

OUTRAGOUS! This is one of the worst case of "punish the innocent story".

Every time someone inocent is sentenced the criminal win! If you can go to prison even if you commited no crime them let's be a criminal then!

Only us the good people and this poor teacher who would commit no crime even if they were nobody to enforce the law, lose!

These morons discridited the Justice and this judge should be fired!

This should be a mistrial!

I am sure most of the parents involved disagree with that!

Only a few moronic probably religious fanatic with single digit IQ went for this scandal!

Time to learn about computers you fanatical idiot! You are discriditing your religion too! Fortunatly you are a minority and I know that most religious people (the real religious one!)
are not like you!

The teacher should be re-instated and compensated by the school discrict for the damage!

After all she has been victimized twice by the school! Who is going to do this lawsuit?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 14, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem is that the local law enforcement "Computer Crimes" investigator apparently has no web background. He stated that (parapharased):

"...she had to click on these links to go to the page..."

Anyone who knows the slightest bit about html knows this is not true. For example, look at the following code. Note that I have spelled "META" and http-equiv backwards and replaced the "" with "$" so this will not process.

$ATEM ptth-viuqe="Refresh" content="5; URL=http://news.google.com/"$

If this is put in _any_ webpage guess what happens? In 5 seconds that webpage will redirect to news.google.com - WITHOUT ANYONE CLICKING ON ANYTHING!! Change the "5" to a "0" and it is automatic. And this is EXTREMELY trivial compared to what one can do with Java, JavaScript, PHP, or ActiveX.

This poor woman is getting hosed. The responsible parties should be the school system administration. Why?

1. Antivirus out of date.

2. No firewall.

3. Apparently no content filtering or content filtering is out of date. If this school received any eRate money I would expect them to receive a call from the federal government for repayment of all erate funds. CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) is a mandatory part of eRate.

4. Windows98. Has not been supported by Microsoft for years. Using it and connecting it to the internet would be like building a multi-million mansion in Central Park, NY but then not installing doors in the doorframes or windows in the windowframes. It's a giant "KICK ME!" sign.

5. Teacher allowing her login to be used by someone else. As someone above wrote, that's plain security 101. Everyone should treat their login and password (to anything) the same as they treat their checking account and/or credit cards. Never, ever let anyone use your login and password.

6. Acceptable Use Policy? Any policy that is worth anything would have something along the lines of:

"...we (the system) will do our best to keep your child from seeing (bad things). However you understand that by allowing your child to use the internet they may accidently be exposed to (bad things)..."

These are just off the top of my head.

-- James

Posted by: James | February 14, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Did David Smith recently move from North Carolina and change his name? How can someone that is so completely illiterate about popups and spyware get the idea that he can prosecute anyone on this or any other aspect of computer technology? Take a lesson from my 10 year old, while on Nick.com up comes an innocent looking popup and they click on the X to close it just like I taught them and does it close, no it downloads spyware that makes the computer only want to connect to porn sites in England. David, you haven't a clue and from what I can tell, and still won't after reading this. Get a job at Wal-Mart, hopefully they can give you a safe position where you won't hurt yourself or anyone else anymore.

Posted by: fchipper | February 14, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

This is insane. How can our system fail so blatantly and allow an innocent person to go jail for 40 years? I will wait until sentencing because maybe by some miracle, she won't get any jail time, considering the slaps on the wrist that molestors get for actually doing something evil. I hate to say it, but if they had been using Mac OS X, this likely would never have happened. I have never been attacked by pop ups like this in the 20 years that I've been a mac user. Dunno if that is a cooincidence or not.

Posted by: SecurityHound | February 14, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

This is not atypical of the quality of American "justice". It is only because of the sensational aspects of the case that this particular perversion has seen such notoriety. Typically, the depredations of the court system occur not with a bang but a whimper.

Posted by: Anthony Kimball | February 14, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

As a Network Engineer I have seen it all, people getting fired, reprimended and sometimes even treatened because all these pop up ads.
First of all in this case the defense should call an expert withness. If they cannot affor one I would be more than willing to step up. My second question would be, shouldn't the school have installed antivirus software and spam blockers? furtermore, the network admin for the school should have all the activity records and they could quickly determine where the pop ups came from. I believe that the teacher did nothing wrong. Stop wasting tax payer's lmoney!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone (including Brian) have a list
of the domains involved in this case?

I'd like to check them against various resources which catalog domains engaging in spam, spyware, adware, browser hijacking, drive-by downloads, etc.

Posted by: Rich Kulawiec | February 15, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

ummm whats really obvious here is her lawyer sucks. really. call dershowitz or someone.

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Posted by: VasaritaXXL | February 15, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

A couple years back my 14 year old granddaughter used my computer to look at teen music sites. Within an hour the computer was infested with porn site pop-ups. The registry had somehow been affected also for when the computer was shut down then turned back on, the porn sites still came up.

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Posted by: RimalaXXL | February 16, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

When reviewing a case of computer crime, the evidence must follow the chain of custody and forensic imaging must be performed. Within the computer when the data is deleted or not the exact locations that a person types in to surf is recorded. This information is time stamped with user name and password. What also should be noted is that even search criteria is captured.


If it's spyware, you can tell easily, if it's not you and go to the exact item they used.


Either way this case can be tossed out IF the prosecutor did not follow proper chain of custody or investigation.

I know this because I investigate computer abuse and have ensured that the proper computer review is conduct to have someone falsely accused.

Posted by: RN | February 16, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this article. Brian Krebs you are strikeing a blow against injustice, good work! I have not had a chance to read the extensive comments, however this woman needs legal help. I would sugjest an establishment of a donation fund for legal fees.

Posted by: John Rogers | February 17, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I can't begin to understand how this incident even got this far.

First of all, how would throwing a jacket or a sweater or ANY article of clothing over the monitor have stopped a classroom full of 7th graders from looking at it???

HELLO!!! They're 7th graders who would've still jumped up to see what was on the screen simply because she was panicked...and how do they think these kids wouldn't have removed the article of clothing from the monitor???

And I'm still trying to figure out WHY none of the teachers are coming forward in her defense. For crying out loud, the woman asked for their help!! One even said it happens all the time! And what about the principal,IT dept.,and the rest of the school board? Are all these people getting a good night's sleep knowing that this woman is being rairoaded and knowing they could be doing something about it?

And let's discuss the parents of these kids...
They're middle schoolers who probably went home and exaggerated the story all the while not knowing that this could happen and who are now most likely scared to admit that they know this was beyond the teacher's control.
I wonder if any of them (the parents) have an ounce of common sense.
They need to think back to when they were in middle school and remember how their little mind's operated.

And how is it that some police officer's testimony can be heard but not that of an expert????

This is a bunch of B.S. and the school's entire staff,the parents,the students involved,the police dept.,the local paper,the judge,the jury,the lawyers,and most of all the governor for not stepping in,should all be ASHAMED of themselves!!!!!

Is there anything we can do to help this woman???

I hope she is exonerated of all the charges,then I hope she sues everyone and wins.

We know she deserves to after being drug through the mud on this.

Not only that,but I'd also like to see the judge loose her seat and the governor resign.

Posted by: appauled | February 18, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Petitioning bad people to do good rarely works. You need to have the bad people investigated.

Sample letter:

Connecticut State Bar
30 Bank Street
PO Box 350
New Britain CT 06050-0350
Phone: (860) 223-4400
Fax: (860) 223-4488

Dear sir/madam,

I request you launch an immediate investigation into the actions of State's Attorney David Smith as per the case of Julie Amero. He has made numerous false statements to the press, the jury, and the judge in this case. Such misconduct is wrong and needs to be immediately investigated by your office.

In one such false statement, State's Attorney David Smith reportedly told the jury, "You have to physically click on it to get to those sites," when referring to the web sites that showed up on Ms. Amero's computer. Other times he went further, and suggested not only that Amero clicked on the web site links (URLs), but that she physically typed them in.

The CEO of the maker of the forensic software that Norwich Police Detective Mark Lounsbury used to examine Julie Amero's computer stated that, while the software can find all sorts of files and images, including deleted images or images in unallocated disk space, by keyword or by filetype, [it] does not determine the cause of those files being on the computer (whether caused by malware, intrusion, or direct and willful use), and that it is not the function of [the software] to make that determination." In other words, the software cannot show if Ms. Amero clicked on anything nor typed anything in.

Nevertheless, both the detective (Mark Lounsbury) and the prosecutor (David Smith) were unequivocal in their statements to the press and the jury that the forensic evidence demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the substitute teacher deliberately "typed in" the porn sites. They knew these statements were false, and yet they made them anyway.

Norwich Police Detective Mark Lounsbury has gone further, though. He reportedly also said that he can differentiate between what is and what is not a pop-up based on the source codes [sic]. There is absolutely no factual basis for this claim.

There is no room in our legal system for misrepresentation of the facts by prosecutors. Ignorance of computer forensic evidence is no excuse for falsely convicting an innocent person. The statements David Smith made are all false, and are not backed-up by the evidence. To make such an assertion to win a case is wrong, it is prosecutorial misconduct of the severest form, and is therefore cause for disbarment.

In addition we will be petitioning the U.S. Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation into the actions of the State's Attorney, David Smith, and Norwich Police Detective Mark Lounsbury in this matter.

Posted by: MarkK | February 19, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, it constantly amazes me how lack of technical knowledge is such a common disease. This absoultely disgusts me that the judge forbade techinical evidence. Amero should fight the charges, because the judge and jury are in the wrong here. And how could the prosecution fail to check the logs on the computer?

Posted by: techie | February 20, 2007 12:31 AM | Report abuse

If a Judge does not understand simple contexts such as Malware, Spyware etc. Then He/She should recuse themselves or defer to expert testimony and get educated. Let's hope that the Luddites do not prevail and Mrs. Amero's conviction will be overturned.

Posted by: Mapuda | February 21, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Detective Mark Lounsbury, If I placed before you 10 computers which contained downloaded images and on 9 of these computers the images were downloaded by malware (virus software) and on 1 of the computers the downloaded images were downloaded by a human, would you be able to identify the computer that the human had done the downloading on?

Are you willing to demonstrate your skills in this courtroom to prove this?

Posted by: Cousin Vinny | February 22, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Ex-judge Kline gets prison
Six years of legal wrangling ends with former O.C. Superior Court judge sentenced to 27 months for child pornography.
By LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES - Former Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline offered "a lifetime of apologies" and then collapsed Tuesday as he was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for possession of child pornography.

Kline, 66, had just learned that U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall was rejecting his bid to be placed on probation when his eyes fluttered and his knees buckled.

"I think I'm going to faint," he said as he crumbled into the arms of Paul S. Meyer, his defense attorney.

Meyer and co-counsel Janet Levine guided Kline to a courtroom bench. The two attorneys took off their coats, made a pillow and asked Kline to lie down. A nurse assigned to the courthouse rushed in moments later and checked Kline's pulse. Los Angeles County paramedics later arrived and checked his vital signs and performed an electro-cardiogram.

Kline, who has a history of heart illness, did not lose consciousness, but he remained seated on the bench when the sentencing hearing resumed 45 minutes later.

Tuesday's sentencing ended nearly six years of legal wrangling that saw Kline charged at one point with possessing child pornography in federal court and child molestation in state courts.

The state case was ultimately dismissed, based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the prosecution was pressed beyond the statute of limitations.

The federal pornography case was also threatened in 2003 when Marshall ruled that the evidence of pornographic images found on his home computer had been illegally seized.

But a federal appeals court disagreed with Marshall in 2004, and the pornography charges were reinstated.

A year later, in December 2005, the ex-judge pleaded guilty and broke down in tears.

During the six years of court battles, Kline lost his job as a judge to a write-in candidate in 2002. He also lost his mobility for six years when he was ordered to wear a tracking anklet and placed on home confinement while his case was decided in court.

Tuesday, he lost his freedom. He will not be eligible for parole until he serves at least 23 months. He was given until May 21 to report to federal prison.

Marshall said Tuesday that the seriousness of the porn charges demanded that Kline be punished. She ordered that Kline be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, that he not possess any computer equipment and that he not access the Internet during three years of probation.

Kline admitted he stored more than 100 sexually explicit photos of under-age boys on his computer and on several disks found at his Irvine home in November 2001.

Police caught onto Kline after a Canadian computer whiz hacked into the judge's Irvine home computer and discovered sexually explicit images of young boys and a diary that revealed Kline's fantasies involving young boys. A subsequent search of his court computer revealed more images and more Web sites.

Brad Willman, the Canadian hacker, forwarded the information to an anti-pedophile watchdog group, which then sent the information to Irvine police detectives.

Meyer and Levine asked for probation, arguing that Kline should, among other things, be given credit for time served in home confinement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory W. Staples asked for a 33-month term, arguing in a written brief that "to sentence the defendant to anything other than a long term in prison would signal that our justice system treats its own with favor. ... Of all people in society who must be held strictly accountable for their crimes, it is members of the justice system themselves."

Staples said Kline possessed thousands of sexually explicit pictures of young boys, used his computers to search for and store images of child pornography, and kept the diary that detailed his interest in boys.

Kline's conduct, Staples said, "sullied the state judiciary."

Kline case timeline

October 1995: Orange County civil attorney Ronald C. Kline is appointed to Orange County Superior Court bench by Gov. Pete Wilson.

May 2000: A Canadian hacker downloads lurid diaries and pictures of nude boys from Kline's Irvine home computer and forwards them to a pedophile watchdog group.

November 2001: Kline is charged in federal court in Santa Ana with seven counts of possession of child pornography.

January 2002: The Orange County District Attorney's Office files five counts of child molestation against Kline after a man comes forward to say he was molested by Kline in 1979 when he was 14.

March-November 2002: Kline does not campaign for re-election and is replaced by write-in candidate John S. Adams.

June-October 2003: A federal judge rules that 1,500 photos of naked boys, diary entries and Web sites found on Kline's computers cannot be used in the federal child-pornography case, contending that the Canadian hacker was serving as an agent of authorities and therefore his "search" of Kline's computer was illegal.

July 2003: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismisses all molestation charges against Kline because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning prosecution of old sex-abuse allegations.

October 2004: A federal appeals court reverses the pornography rulings, saying the Canadian hacker was acting on his own when he gained access to Kline's computer.

December 2005: Kline pleads guilty to four counts of possessing child pornography on his home computer.

Feb. 20, 2007: Kline is sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.

Contact the writer: 714-834-3784 or lwelborn@ocregister.com

Posted by: Ex-judge Kline gets prison | February 22, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I heard this story on NPR on my way in to work this morning. Its really unbelievable that the school system is not being held more accountable for the incident. Granted we don't know all of the facts, but just knowing that this incident involved Windows 98 (I wonder if it was even the most recent version of 98), IE 5.0 (I wonder what service pack and how the browser was configured), absence of a firewall, outdated antivirus software, and outdated virus definitions should have been enough to convince the jury that by a preponderance of the evidence Ms. Alero is not guilty. If the defense wants to show how negligent the school is than they should confiscate other computers at the school and perform forensics on them. I guarantee they will find the same malware. This is really a travesty of justice.

Posted by: Mark | March 1, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

This Reference List was posted by Julie's Husband at the Julie Amero Defense Fund Web Site - http://julieamer.blogspot.com/

Kelly Middle School
Principal Scott Fain
860-823-4211

Superintendent Norwich Public Schools - Pam Aubin
pwaubin@norwicpublicschools.org
Note: This address is no longer valid

Prosecutor
SMITH, David J. Criminal Justice, Division Of
(860) 889-5284 david.smith@po.state.ct.us

Hillary B. Strackbein Superior Court Judge JD and GA Matters
Superior Court G.A. 10112 Broad StreetNew London, CT 06320
Tel (860) 443-8343; Fax (860) 437-1168

Superior CourtJudicial District & G.A.
211 Courthouse SquareNorwich, CT 06360
Tel (860) 886-0144; Fax (860) 823-1019

Detective Mark Lounsbury Norwich Police
Tel: (860) 886-5561 ext 153 Fax: (860) 886-4552

CT State governor M. Jodi Rell
Mailing Address
Governor M. Jodi Rell
Executive Office of the Governor
State Capitol 210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Telephone Greater Hartford Area:
860-566-4840
Toll Free: 800-406-1527
TDD: 860-524-7397
E-Mail
Governor.Rell@po.state.ct.us

Joseph Courtney United States Representative
Washington D.C. Office
215 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515
Phone:(202) 225-2076Fax:(202) 225-4977
District Office
2 Courthouse Square, 5th FloorNorwich, CT 06360
Phone:(860) 886-0139Fax:(860) 886-2974

Senator Edith Praque
E-mail:
Prague@senatedems.ct.gov
Phone:
1-800-842-1420
Address:
Legislative Office BuildingRoom
3800Hartford, CT 06106-1591

State Representative
Jack Malone Deputy Majority Whip
Serving the 47th Assembly DistrictCanterbury, Norwich, Scotland & Sprague
At the Capitol:Legislative Office Building,
Room 4013Hartford, CT 06106-1591
(860) 240-85851-800-842-8267
Jack.Malone@cga.ct.gov

Posted by: Anne | March 1, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

ust have to laugh.
this is a typical case for the shape the u.s. is in.
if this was to happen here in germany or france, students, teacher and parents would laugh it off, and that's all that there is to it.
pop ups in 2004 where as common as rain falling down.
just recently have browsers been enabled to block popups.
sorry for the teacher,sorry for the students and sorry for a redcioulos justice system like in the u.s..
it is geeting worse by the day.

Posted by: michael | March 4, 2007 2:51 AM | Report abuse

Concerning Instructions to the
jury, I read the Court transcripts
at the point just before
deliberations started. They
are quite complex, IMHO.

Reference:

http://www.jud.ct.gov/CriminalJury/

-> Part 7: Sex Crimes
-> 7.9:
"Injury or Risk of injury to,
Impairing Morals of,
or Sale of, Children § 53-21"

-> http://www.jud.ct.gov/CriminalJury/7-9.html/

From:
``A. If charged with a violation of Part I of § 53-21 (a) (1)" to

``Refer to Concluding Instruction,
§ 2.51" inclusively.

Also worthwhile IMHO, is Nancy Willard, J.D.'s analysis in PDF
format at:
http://csriu.org/onlinedocs/AmeroTragedy.pdf/


David

Posted by: David | March 4, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The people trying to "shat" and "frame" this woman are just so TOTALLY screwed up.
Even the fact that they try to nail her by claiming that someone had INTENTIONALLY clicked a link or typed an address is so TOTALLY far out - I mean like the rest of us never by mistake clicked the wrong link or wrote the wrong address. Anyway SO WHAT if she INTENTIONALLY wrote the actual address THAT would'nt even prove that she would have known what would be the outcome like the rest of us never INTENTIONALLY clicked a link or wrote a net address and got something that we didn't like or didn't expect.
If they are ready to give jail time to anyone screwing up just the slightest when at a computer then they are too far out in hysteria.
If her intention were to abuse the children then lock her up else leave the poor woman be.

Posted by: dane | March 5, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

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