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Felony Spyware/Porn Charges Against Teacher Dropped

A substitute teacher in Connecticut who faced 40 years in prison for allegedly surfing porn Web sites in the presence of seventh graders has been cleared of the charges after state prosecutors dropped the case.

The remarkable story of Julie Amero touched a nerve with our readers the last time I wrote about it. Prosecutors had charged Amero with four felony counts of endangering a child, but security experts rose up to her defense. They argued that spyware and adware, which had infected her PC, was responsible for serving the porn sites on her machine.

According to a story Friday in the Hartford Courant, Amero agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct, which is considered a misdemeanor and came with a $100 fine.

"Amero, who has been hospitalized and suffers from declining health, also surrendered her teaching license," the Courant's Rick Green writes.

Alex Eckelberry, president of Clearwater, Fla., based Sunbelt Software, lead a team of forensics investigators who examined the hard drive in Amero's computer, an analysis that was later used to help overturn her original conviction.

"While I wish Julie would have been fully exonerated, this at least brings the subject to a close," Eckelberry wrote in a post on the company's blog Friday. "The reality is, her health has been in a precipitous decline. I really don't think she was prepared mentally and physically for the pain of another trial."

By Brian Krebs  |  November 24, 2008; 10:11 AM ET
Categories:  Cyber Justice , From the Bunker  
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Comments

Brian,

After reading both stories it truly points to the lack of a understanding. The internet is a wonderful resource but it also has many detrimental things on it.

Does it not make sense that if our schools utilize computers in classrooms as teaching tools, then the districts should be responsible for educating themselves-teachers to the problems the web may cause?

Holding a teacher accountable in this situation sounds like the district knew they were negligent. As a result, the district was looking for a "fall guy" in case of the possibility of legal action initiated by parents.

Posted by: dean_guadagni | November 24, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct"

"Amero, who has been hospitalized and suffers from declining health, also surrendered her teaching license"

^^^ That sucks. I understand her plea bargain decision though. You have to do what you have to do in our "legal" system. Exercising one's "right" to a trial comes along with much tougher sentencing if you are found guilty. Even when innocent (such as in this blindingly clear case), you have to decide if you want to risk sitting in prison for several years while working on an appeal.

Posted by: BurntPickle | November 24, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

How Julie Amero could be held criminally responsible for the blatant negligence of the school district's failure to engage in anything remotely resembling "best practices" in securing their computers is a complete and utter travesty of justice. The responsible parties in this debacle are clearly the school administrators, the school board for the district, as well as the State of Connecticut. The prosecutors involved in this case should be castigated for pursuing a case that was without any merit whatsoever. I only wish I had the means to help Amero sue the local school system as well as the State of Connecticut for malfeasance. This case was a witch-hunt that turned an innocent woman into a criminal and whitewashed any culpability for those truly responsible. Perhaps Norwich should change its name to Salem.

Posted by: Hoku1 | November 24, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the computer was the school's property. The article says it was Amaro's computer and that she was a substitute teacher. I would presume she brought her own computer to the school. That is a somewhat different situation than other commenters have presumed.

Also the article states that the "experts" testimony in regard to virii helped overturn her original conviction, so apparently this has been dragging on through appeals, etc.

An unfortunate situation, and it might have been avoided had she bothered with some basic computer maintenance - put protective software on your machines.

Posted by: Casual_observer | November 25, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"I don't think the computer was the school's property."

Casual_observer.

Rather too casual: it *was* the school's property.

Posted by: FreewheelinFrank | November 25, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

What a travesty.
How to we get the names of the original judge who did not allow the defense to show any evidence and therefore was clearly helping cover for the school board. Also the prosecutors that felt it was a good idea to toss this poor woman in the clink?
There has to be a way we can nasty gram them on a regular basis. Hopefully they already lost their bids for re-election recently. If not then the people of Conneticut are... well I will stop there. They are probably still more intellegent then the voters in MD.

Posted by: Tonagon1 | November 25, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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