Julie Amero, a 40-year-old substitute teacher from Connecticut is facing up to 40 years in prison for exposing her seventh grade class to a cascade of pornographic imagery. Amero maintains that she is a victim of a malicious software infestation that caused her computer to spawn porn uncontrollably.
Detective Mark Lounsbury, a computer crimes officer at the Norwich Police Department testified as an expert witness for the prosecution. He maintained that Amero was intentionally surfing for pornography while her seventh grade class busied itself with language arts.
Lounsbury told the court that Amero musts have “physically clicked” on pornographic links during class time in order to unleash the pornographic pictures. However, he admitted under cross-examination that the prosecution never even checked the computer for malware.
Why didn’t the police check for malicious software? According to prosecutor David Smith, the police didn’t check for malware because the defense didn’t raise the possibility of a malware attack during the pretrial phase, as required by law. Defense attorney Cocheo could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Herb Horner, the proprietor of the consulting firm Contemporary Computing Consultants, testified as an expert witness for the defense. His exhaustive independent forensic analysis of Amero’s hard drive showed that the machine had been infected with multiple pieces of malicious software before she arrived at the school, and that these hidden programs were responsible for the pornographic deluge.
On Jan. 5, 2007, a Norwich jury found Amero guilty of four felony counts of “injury or risk of injury to, or impairing morals of, children.” Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and while it is unlikely that Amero will receive the maximum penalty, incarceration remains a very real possibility. Even if Amero avoids jail, she will be stripped of her teaching credentials unless the convictions are reversed.
News of the guilty verdict sparked widespread outrage, particularly in the IT community. How could a 40-year-old woman with no prior criminal record be facing such serious charges over a few pop-up ads?
You can read the whole story here: http://www.alternet.org/rights/46925.
This case has been on my mind a lot this month. This woman is obviously the victim of malware and the whole situation is a terrible, awful tragedy.
She’s also the vicitm of a flawed justice system, a moronic jury, an inept police detective and an incompetent defense attorney. I cannot believe how buggered up this situation is on every level. It’s surreal.
I hope she starts a legal defense fund. Clearly she must appeal and fight for a mistrial.