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A substitute school teacher in Connecticut has been found guilty of exposing children to porn.

She could face up to 40 years in prison.

However, there are some interesting aspects to this case:

  • The defense contends this was a case of spyware on the school machine — a barrage of popups.
  • The school did have content filtering but the license was expired.
  • According to another article, “Computer expert W. Herbert Horner, who performed a forensic examination of the computer for the defense, said Amero may have been redirected to the sexually-oriented sites through a hairstyling site accessed from the computer. He said the site allowed spyware to be downloaded onto the computer which allowed the pop-ups.”
  • And, according to one source, the Trial Judge, Hillary Strackbein, “was seen falling asleep during proceedings and made comments to the jury that she wanted the case over by the end of the week. It was also reported that Judge Strackbein attempted to pressure the defense into an unwanted plea deal, in place of a trial. The defense attorney for Amero, moved for a mistrial shortly before closing arguments Friday, based on reports that jurors had discussed the case at a local restaurant.” (I believe that the judge questioned the jurors subsequently and they denied having discussed the case.)
  • And, the detective in the investigation “admitted there was no search made for adware, which can generate pop-up advertisements”.

Was justice done here? A bad spyware infestation can splatter a machine full of porn popups and it’s a bit unnerving to think that a teacher could get hard prison time for something that was likely to have been completely innocent.

Alex Eckelberry
(Thanks Walter)

Update: The local Norwich paper actually thinks this is a just conviction! Serious need to get on the Clue Train.

Update2: My letter to ComputerWorld. I’m now convinced that Amero is innocent and have offered our forensic services to the defense on a pro-bono basis. I hope she can win on appeal.

Update3: ComputerWorld writer has a change of heart. More facts here.

Update4: So much more has been published on this blog, so if you want the latest, scan the blog itself. You can also see my opinion piece for the Norwich paper here.

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