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Outrageous Porn Pop-Up Case In Connecticut Is Over

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If there were ever a modern case that could be compared to the Salem witch trials, it would be the effort to prosecute Julie Amero, a Norwich, Connecticut school teacher, for (allegedly) exposing her students to pornography.

Julie was convicted on four counts of exposing kids to pornography after she turned on a spyware-infested (school-owned) machine and a flurry of porn pop-ups began appearing on the screen. Julie, who was merely a substitute teacher, didn't know what to do and the teenagers in her class witnessed the event.

Even worse, the school district had let their content filtering software expire. Computer experts later discovered the spyware infestation was caused by someone accessing a hairdressing site. Presumably, this site was accessed by a student, who wasn't aware of the spyware and didn't know the school district had let their content filtering expire.

On Friday, Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt Software, announced that the Amero nightmare is over in his popular Sunbelt Blog. Sadly though, she still had to plead to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. The result was a $100 fine and she has had her teaching credentials revoked in Connecticut.

Considering in the initial trial she was facing a conviction on four felony counts — which could have netted her 40 years in the slammer — I suppose this is a win?

"She acquiesced to the lesser misdemeanor charge, and while it may have been a bitter pill to swallow, she can at least can move on now without this sick cloud hanging over her head. It was less than two years ago that Julie was facing felony charges with a maximum of 40 years in prison," according to Alex Eckelberry,

Alex and a host of people from the computer security industry, along with a pro bono attorney, William Dow, led the effort to expose this injustice and get Julie a new trial. The number of people who got involved in this is amazing and many of them are mentioned in Alex's blog post.

I found this case amazing since malicious and even so-called commercial sites infest unprotected machines with all kinds of "ware" on a daily basis. In this case, it was the industry that protects computers from unwanted "ware" that had to step in and educate the authorities that there was a problem with the intent in the case. Perhaps the authorities should have hired someone a little more knowledgeable in computers in the first place before attempting to prosecute Julie.

Sadly, Julie's health has been failing as a result of the stress induced by this prosecution. Even sadder, with all the real crime on the Internet, which rarely ever results in a prosecution, a lot of taxpayer money was wasted going after someone who most believe was completely innocent!

I've written a few posts about the Julie Amero story. It's ironic that Internet porn, which is allegedly controlled by organized crime, translated into a teacher being charged for turning on a computer for the first time. Even more ironic is that in those four years, very few, if any, of the people behind the actual problem have been brought to justice. Also, ironic was a WebMD survey that found that Internet porn reaches most children, including the age of the teenagers present in Julie's class that day. The truth is that most of the teenagers in the class have probably seen worse, unless they've never surfed the sometimes murky waters of the Internet.

The ironies in this case are many and in the end, history will write it that way.

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About Ed Dickson

  • http://blogcritics.org/scitech/ Mark Buckingham

    Truly a sad case of justice being utterly too blind. Apparently, the computer in question was never even checked for malware by the original investigating team. Seriously…WTF?

    It’d be great if those actually responsible (supposedly kids surfing the Web while teachers were out of the room) would step forward and at least accept some of their responsibility, maybe even apologize for ruining someone’s life.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    This is f*cking retarded! It’s not like we live in the freakin 80’s. Computers are a commodity & it’s a shame that these supposed law officials don’t understand a thing about’em. The school should have suffered some consequences NOT the teacher! They own the computers, ultimately, it’s their responsibility for what is on those harddrives as well as what sites can be accessed via the net!

    If we didn’t make sex & the human body such a vulgarity in this country then we wouldn’t have these problems. Yet, we have no problems making violence readily available via TV,Movies,Video games…

  • Sue

    Why does she not sue the school and school board. They were responsible for ensuring that the software was up to date, but were incompetent. It is this woman’s life and reputation that has gotten damaged.