Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Connecticut will not fully admit that a school system virus led to a wrongful substitute teacher prosecution and conviction


This morning, Tuesday, Jan. 27, ABC “Good Morning America” presented the case of a substitute teacher, Julie Amero, in Connecticut wrongfully prosecuted when malware on a school district’s computer system caused pornographic popups to appear on her classroom computer in front of middle school kids.

I reported on this problem June 7, 2007 on this blog.

She was actually convicted of a felony (endangerment of minors) and faced four years in prison. Then the conviction was reversed, but the state, with the right to retry, insisted on a plea deal with a misdemeanor conviction ("disorderly conduct") and an agreement never to appear in a classroom again.

It appears that the state of Connecticut wants to ‘save face” and does not want to admit that inadequate network security would have caused this problem; such an admission would ruin a prosecutor's career. The state had boxed itself into a corner, using "expert witnesses" to "prove" that the teacher had visited inappropriate sites.

On the show, Amero said that he had very little computer training and did not know where the off button was to turn off the computer.

Computer experts showed that no one could have clicked on as many links as to cause all the popups that appeared quickly. Security professionals showed that malware caused the popups, not anything that the substitute teacher did on the computer.

It was several days after the incident before the school called her in and she was arrested. Kids had told parents who, often not aware of computer viruses themselves, complained.

She has had poor health, and reportedly had a miscarriage. Her husband appeared with her on the show.

The interview story is not yet present on the abcnews website. I will check for it later today. UPDATE (11:30 AM). The ABC News story is "Teacher: Wrong Computer Click Ruined My Life; Julie Amero Faced Up to 40 Years in Prison After Spyware Caused Porn to Pop Up on Her Classroom Computer", story by Imaeyen Ibanga, link here.

There ought to be a grass roots effort to get even the misdemeanor conviction overturned. This is outrageous!

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