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Braincase
03-01-2007, 11:23 AM
Link (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/14/nyregion/14teacher.html?ex=1329109200&en=9e18a05a5f2e2de3&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss)

THIS is a miscarriage of justice. No firewall? No anti-spyware? ONE OF THE WORST CYBERCRIME CASES IN LEGAL HISTORY!

Teacher Faces Jail Over Pornography on Class Computer
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By ALISON LEIGH COWAN
Published: February 14, 2007
Julie Amero, a substitute teacher at a middle school in Norwich, Conn., said she had simply wanted to e-mail her husband. The authorities contend that she was — purposely or, perhaps, carelessly — exposing 11- and 12-year-old students to pornography rather than teaching them English.

Last month, Ms. Amero was convicted in Norwich Superior Court of four counts of risking injury to a child and faces up to 40 years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 2. She has insisted on her innocence, refusing to accept a plea bargain that would have allowed her to walk free. She portrays herself as a hapless technophobe too clueless to unplug a wayward computer.

Ms. Amero, 40, a longtime substitute, contends that when she arrived that day in October 2004, she asked the regular seventh-grade language arts teacher at Kelly Middle School if she could use his computer to e-mail her husband. But first, she says, she went to the bathroom, and when she returned, the teacher was gone and students were gathered around the screen, watching a hairstyle Web site.

When she tried to close the site, what she got was an endless barrage of pop-up ads for pornography sites. The images continued all day, since “I absolutely have no clue about computers,” she said in an interview.

Ms. Amero plans to appeal, and she says lawyers have offered to handle the appeal free.

School administrators and prosecutors have accused her of everything from spending too much time staring at the computer to deliberately surfing pornography sites, and have pointed out that if she was an unwitting victim of an Internet bombardment, she should have fetched help, blocked the screen or, at least, unplugged the machine.

“She could have turned off the computer,” the assistant state’s attorney, David J. Smith, said in his closing arguments. Ms. Amero insisted during cross-examination that she had never turned off a computer herself and did not even know how to turn off a monitor.

An Internet chatter campaign has made Ms. Amero something of a cause célèbre for Luddites worldwide.

Several computer experts who have followed the case said programs known as spyware and malware could have hijacked the machine’s browser so that it visited pornography sites without prompting and created the computer logs that helped convict Ms. Amero.

Craig Ellison, an industry analyst who once ran the computer labs at PC magazine, warned in an interview, “These types of things can happen,” especially “if you’re using a very old system.”

Brian Livingston, editorial director of Windows Secrets, an electronic newsletter about the Microsoft program, said in an interview, “Prosecutors should be chasing the maker of these spyware programs, not hapless teachers who have nothing to do with the images.”

Ms. Amero’s husband, Wes Volle, was emphatic in saying she was clueless about computers and was in over her head once the pop-ups began. Mr. Volle, a graphics designer, accused the school system of sacrificing his wife to deflect attention from its own failure to install effective filters on its computers.

“The computer was infected long before Julie walked into that room,” he said. No other staff members in the southeastern Connecticut district have been charged or are expected to be charged.

During the trial, Robert Hartz, the information services manager for Norwich’s schools, said the computer’s filters that would have blocked such ads were not fully operational, since they had lacked the proper updated information for several weeks.

In an interview, Pam Aubin, superintendent of the Norwich schools, said that Mr. Hartz had ordered an upgrade, but that the supplier had sent it to the wrong e-mail address, using “B” for Bob rather than “R” for Robert in Mr. Hartz’s name.

“This is a tragedy of errors,” said Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, based in Eugene, Ore. Adding that she was sympathetic to Ms. Amero, she said, “If she’s guilty, then every parent and teacher in this country is at risk of arrest, because at some point in time that technology is going to fail and kids are going to be exposed to pornographic material.”

Another adult, a translator for a special education student, was in the classroom all day, and she testified that Ms. Amero seemed preoccupied by the computer.

In any case, school officials say they do not understand why Ms. Amero would have had problems that never plagued other employees.

“Does she deserve 40 years? No,” Ms. Aubin said. “Do I think she inappropriately used the computer while students were in the room? I do.”

Asked in court why she did not simply pull the plug during the ensuing six hours, Ms. Amero said, “I was taught never to touch anything in the teacher’s classroom.”

She said she tried to summon help; a tutor at the school, Merja Helen Lehtinen, testified that Ms. Amero came running into the teacher’s lounge between classes and complained about the pop-ups. Ms. Amero also said she stood in front of the screen to shield it, but four children testified that they saw inappropriate images anyway.

One student testified that Ms. Amero tried to shield the computer screen, and another testified that when she found them around the computer, she shooed and even pushed them away.

Mr. Smith, the lead prosecutor, chided Ms. Amero for failing to lock the classroom when she went to the lounge, increasing the chance that children would see the images. He flashed images from the sites — the names are unprintable — onto a courtroom screen.

The trial transcript makes it clear that neither Mr. Hartz, the schools’ technology expert, nor a Norwich detective who examined the computer, looked for the presence of adware or spyware.

Ms. Amero’s trial lawyer, John F. Cocheo, had lined up a computer consultant to testify how easily spyware could have redirected the browser to the offensive Web sites without any click of the mouse. The consultant did testify that “the machine was out of control,” but much of his findings were ruled inadmissible because they had not been made available to the prosecution before trial.

Since articles about the case appeared last month in local newspapers, the Internet has been buzzing with people supporting Ms. Amero. Alex Eckelberry, a software vendor, has called the prosecution and verdict “an injustice” on his blog, adding, “The precedent it would create would be quite unnerving.”

A chat room on the Web site for The Norwich Bulletin has at least 10 pages of comments, including one from a person who had just returned home to the Netherlands after a vacation in New York and Vermont. “Holland is awaiting the outcome of this trial in a state of total disbelief,” the poster wrote. “Has the USA lost it sense of reality?”

siberian khatru
03-01-2007, 11:25 AM
Stupid reposts.

:p

StcChief
03-01-2007, 11:27 AM
Gov't workers.

Would you work for peanuts for a school system or other Gov't IT work as a sysadmin/network admin.....

NFW.

Jenson71
03-01-2007, 11:54 AM
Well, based on the article, I don't think she deserves any more of a punishment than telling her to take a class on internet/computers if she would like to continue using them at work as a substitute teacher.

However, I do find it odd that she knows how to send email but doesn't know how to shut off a monitor. That seems improbable.

BigRedChief
03-01-2007, 11:58 AM
Where is that thread now? It did get quite long didn't it?

Lzen
03-01-2007, 12:00 PM
However, I do find it odd that she knows how to send email but doesn't know how to shut off a monitor. That seems improbable.

Yeah, it does seem improbable. But there are people that are that computer stupid.

KC Kings
03-01-2007, 12:07 PM
However, I do find it odd that she knows how to send email but doesn't know how to shut off a monitor. That seems improbable.

Yeah, that is pretty lame. That is like knowing how to create a post, but not knowing how to search to see if the post was already posted 3 weeks ago. :p

Jenson71
03-01-2007, 12:11 PM
Yeah, that is pretty lame. That is like knowing how to create a post, but not knowing how to search to see if the post was already posted 3 weeks ago. :p

Bannable offense, in most civil internet societies.

Braincase
03-01-2007, 12:48 PM
Bannable offense, in most civil internet societies.

That only counts on threads I create. :p