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As you may know, I’ve been deeply involved in the case of Julie Amero, the hapless substitute teacher convicted of four felony counts for impairing the morals of a child, while the defense contends that Julie was a victim of popups and spyware. The rest is history, as the tech community exploded into her defense.

Yet the local Norwich, CT town has continually taken the side the prosecution, with virtually every story laced with implications that Julie deserved her sentence. However, the stories were always veiled as “unbiased journalism”, looking at “both sides of the story”.

Well, their true colors were finally shown today. They dropped a bombshell editorial, going on the record that Julie deserves these four felony counts:

Amero could receive up to 40 years, if she gets the maximum sentence allowable for each of her four convictions of risk of injury to a minor, and the judge orders them to be served consecutively. It’s an unlikely sentence, even though children were exposed to six hours of Internet pornography under Amero’s watch. We think Amero is likely to receive some sort of community service, and it would be a fair sentence.

Amero has many supporters, which should not sway the court, as most of them have formed opinions based on limited knowledge of the facts of the case, or simple hearsay. At the heart of this international debate is whether Amero was responsible for causing the pornography to be on the computer screen for an entire school day, when seventh-grade students were able to view it. Many in the technology field have suggested she was the victim of a “porn storm,” which were frequent problems in 2004, when the incident occurred. Some suggested the computer was overtaken by malware or spyware, technical parasites that will plant unwanted images, pop-ups, etc., onto a computer. Some have suggested Amero was the victim of a conspiracy by students.

My answer that I posted:

You say that Amero’s supporters have limited knowledge of the case — yet many supporters are basing their arguments on the very same trial testimony that you are using. I’m not sure I understand this logic.

In this country, one understands that there is the concept of proportional justice, where “the punishment will fit the crime”. In this case, the crime was ignorance, and for this you demand a felony conviction, which will ruin Amero’s life. Do you have any idea what an effect a felony conviction has on someone’s ability to work and live?

You had a pregnant substitute teacher nearing 40 who had popups on the computer. The trial testimony shows that she went for help and attempted to keep the children from seeing the images — even going so far as to push a child away. And despite what anyone says, it’s not clear that these popups were occurring “all day” – in fact, it’s apparent they occurred for less than 2 hours.

Comparing these popups to “a fire in a trashcan” or a “racy magazine on the desk” is misleading. A fire, a magazine, a fight in the classroom — these are all things that people in general have experience in. With computers, you’re entering a different realm — how many relatives or friends do you have that are computer illiterate and really do think that turning off the monitor will end up turning off the computer itself?

Allow me to point out that intent to harm a minor played a role in this case. And yet, we see no proof from the testimony that there was any intent to harm by Amero.

Let’s leave “armchair” jurisprudence to the legal experts. They know the law, let them decide if ignorance is the basis for a devastating felony conviction.

Prominent USA Today journalist Andrew Kantor also comes to her defense, here.

And you can read the transcripts for yourself here and come to your own conclusions.

Alex Eckelberry