Julie Amero Spyware Case Finally Comes To An End

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


It’s a sad case when someone loses their career over an incident which was outside of their control, not everyone can be expected to keep their computers free of spyware and malware.

It just doesn’t happen.

Unfortunately for Julie Amero, she got some porn pop-ups at the wrong time in a class full of students. If you aren’t familiar with the case you can read the Wiki entry – State of Connecticut v. Julie Amero.

On Friday, prosecutors reached a plea agreement with the former Connecticut schoolteacher who at one time faced up to 40 years in prison after being convicted of endangering minors. The charges stemmed from a 2004 incident in which a computer loaded with spyware displayed pornography to her students.

State prosecutors dropped four felony charges of “risk of injury to a minor” against her, with Amero pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor, according to the Hartford Courant.

A jury convicted Amero of the felony charges in January 2007, but the presiding judge in the case, Hillary Strackbein, set aside that verdict five months later, essentially granting Amero a new trial.

It’s amazing that she could even face up to 40 year behind bars for this fairly simply and completely innocuous incident.

At least the sentence she got wasn’t too harsh, she did have her teaching privileges revoked however and this case has been hanging over her for the past 4 years – which can’t have been good for her either.

Amero will pay a US$100 charge and have her Connecticut teaching credentials revoked, said Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry, who led the team of computer investigators that analyzed the school’s computer and concluded that Amero was innocent.

“The stress of this thing,… it just totally freaked her out,” Eckelberry said Friday. “For four years she’s been sitting there with this thing hanging over her.”

“It’s disappointing that it wasn’t dropped, but on the other hand I’m happy she got her life back,” he added.

Amero had become a cause celebre to computer security professionals who argued that she was an innocent victim of spyware programs that took control of a poorly configured computer on Oct. 19, 2004, at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Connecticut, where Amero had been a substitute teacher.

I hope it hasn’t detrimentally effected her psychologically and she can now get back to her life and pursuing some other kind of non-teaching career.

You can read Julie Amero’s blog here, which has some additional info about her story.

Sometimes it makes you wonder who the legal system is meant to protect, doesn’t it?

Source: Network World

Posted in: Legal Issues, Malware

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4 Responses to Julie Amero Spyware Case Finally Comes To An End

  1. cbrp1r8 November 24, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    the legal system will and always has been used to protect the criminal, a fair trial is what its meant for. Those who are innocent usually fair worse when dealing with the arcane system. Those who are guilty have many loopholes in law to use to their advantage. I haven’t read much of the case but it sounds like she got roughed up a bit by it but otherwise came out ok, other then losing teaching but then again, that might be everything to a teacher. No one can say but her.

  2. Sofa-ciDe November 25, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    Thats quite bad. 40 Years in Prison for endangering Minors with “Porn” while Murderers sometimes get off with 25 years, even less sometimes.

    “loaded with spyware”
    See that >spyware< people can’t be expected to clear computers owned by the education system, that is the Admins job.

  3. blomf December 1, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    I’ve just been having a read around this article and I’m a little amazed at how on earth she was found guilty. It was mentioned that some of the school kids had been using the computer while she went to the toilet to view hairdressing sites that caused the popups. How many of us have mysteriously sent messages to everyone we know after forgetting to ctrl alt del before going to the bathroom…

  4. log0 December 8, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    This reminds me of the North Dakota spammer suing the spammers hunters. I didn’t keep track of the case afterwards.

    However, I remember from the case findings and details, the judge and jury were completely non-technical and made a lot of false judgments.

    I guess, in this case, the same thing.