[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2007-02-05

Connecticut teacher sentenced to 40 years for using infected computer

Filed under: Society — bblackmoor @ 11:59

Julie Amero, a substitute teacher in Norwich, Connecticut, was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for the crime of using a classroom computer which had been infected by malware.

Oct. 19, 2004, while substituting for a seventh-grade language class at Kelly Middle School, Amero claimed she could not control the graphic images appearing in an endless cycle on her computer.

“The pop-ups never went away,” Amero testified. “They were continuous.”

The Web sites, which police proved were accessed while Amero was in the classroom, were seen by as many as 10 minor students. Several of the students testified during the three-day trial in Norwich Superior Court to seeing images of naked men and women.

Computer expert W. Herbert Horner, testifying in Amero’s defense, said he found spyware on the computer and an innocent hair styling Web site “that led to this pornographic loop that was out of control.”

“If you try to get out of it, you’re trapped,” Horner said.


The six-person jury […] convicted Amero, 40, of Windham of four counts of risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child. It took them less than two hours to decide the verdict. She faces a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

(from Norwich Bulletin, Teacher guilty in Norwich porn case)

I have said before that most people are too stupid to be allowed near computers. This is not one of those cases: Ms. Amero didn’t own the computer, and it wasn’t her responsibility to maintain it. The fault here lies with the administration of Kelly Middle School. The computer in question should never have been connected to the Internet. Its operating system was out of date, its antivirus software had expired, and the machine itself was infected by numerous pieces of spyware. When she walked into that classroom, there was a ticking bomb on her desk, and it’s the Kelly Middle School administration that is to blame for it.

As for the jury, you can bet your retirement that any potential juror who had any knowledge of computers whatsoever was eliminated during voir dire by the prosecution. Jury ignorance has become the weapon of choice of judges and prosecutors who want to control the outcome of trials. But since the jury pool (prior to voir dire) is selected randomly, there were probably very few such individuals in the first place.

This is a grotesque miscarriage of justice. However, it would be a mistake to think that Ms. Amero’s case is unusual. Miscarriages of justice happen every day: you simply do not hear about most of them.