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  1. #1
    BEB
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    Teacher guilty in Norwich porn case

    Holy mother of technology illiterate judges and juries!

    http://www.norwichbulletin.com/apps/...12/1002/NEWS17

    Teacher guilty in Norwich porn case
    By GREG SMITH
    Norwich Bulletin

    NORWICH -- State Prosecutor David Smith said he wondered why Julie Amero didn't just pull the plug on her classroom computer.

    The six-person jury Friday may have been wondering the same thing when they 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.

    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.

    But Smith countered Horner's testimony with that of Norwich Police Detective Mark Lounsbury, a computer crimes investigator. On a projected image of the list of Web sites visited while Amero was working, Lounsbury pointed out several highlighted links.

    "You have to physically click on it to get to those sites," Smith said. "I think the evidence is overwhelming that she did intend to access those Web sites."

    Among the sites Amero visited were meetlovers.com and femalesexual.com, along with others with more graphic names.

    Defense attorney John Cocheo moved for a mistrial shortly before closing arguments Friday, based on reports jurors had discussed the case while eating lunch at the Harp and Dragon. Each of the jurors denied the allegation under questioning by Judge Hillary Strackbein and the motion was denied.

    Cocheo, who said he was surprised by the verdict, especially with the "contradictory evidence," said he planned to appeal. Amero had no visible reaction to the verdict, though her family was obviously upset.

    Amero, because the charges are felonies, faces 40 years in prison at her March 2 sentencing. Her family, present in court for entire trial, declined comment about the verdict.

  2. #2
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    http://www.norwichbulletin.com/apps/...701200303/1014

    Column: Teacher in porn case victim of own ignorance
    By ALEX ECKELBERRY
    For the Norwich Bulletin

    In response to your editorial "Reason needed in teacher porn case sentencing," I can only say I am shocked and dismayed at what is such a clear miscarriage of justice.

    There is no question in my mind, and those of many other experts in the computing community, Julie Amero is innocent of the charges, and should not be imprisoned for one day, much less 40 years.

    When I first read of the case, my reaction was how illogical it all sounded: A middle-aged, substitute female teacher accessing porn on a classroom computer, in front of her students on one particular day? It made no sense.

    Computer analysis

    Then I read on to find out the forensic examination of the computer clearly showed this machine was an old, poorly maintained system, riddled with spyware, without adequate protections in place, and it all became clear. Amero is the victim, not the perpetrator.

    Piecing together the evidence, we can get an idea as of what happened that day: Teacher Matthew Napp logged Amero, a substitute for the day, into the classroom computer, and told her not to turn off the computer, as he was leaving for the day. Amero used the computer briefly, and then allowed students to access the computer.

    The children went to an innocuous Web site which, unknown to them, loaded a small program (a "script") that showed pornographic popups. Amero immediately stepped in and shielded the children from the images, pushing them away or physically blocking them from seeing the images.

    She reported the incident, telling other teachers about the problem, one of whom promised to get the school principal to help (no assistance ever came).

    At the end of the day, she reported the problem to the assistant principal, who told her not to worry.

    Antiquated system

    So, what could have caused these popups to occur? The machine was a haggard old system that was not adequately protected against these types of threats (Windows 98 running Internet Explorer 5 with only middling antivirus protection, no firewall, no antispyware program, no popup blocking and no up-to-date Internet filtering in place). Put a system like that against the Internet, and it has no chance.

    The computer was also found to be riddled with spyware -- programs that generate popups and degrade system stability.

    Spyware may or may not have played a direct part in this incident, but the fact it was on the system creates additional damning evidence of the state of this computer system. What is extraordinary is the prosecution admitted there was no search made for spyware -- an incredible blunder akin to not checking for fingerprints at a crime scene.

    It was only through the expert forensic examination by W. Herbert Horner it became clear the machine was infected. Sadly, further critical and exonerating information was not allowed in court.

    Accessing sites

    David Smith, the prosecutor, said Amero intended to access the porn sites because she had to "physically click" to "get to those sites."

    That is so patently wrong it boggles the mind.

    When a popup occurs on a computer, it will get shown as a visited Web site and no "physical click" is necessary. The graphic images in the popup also get stored on the computer.

    Was this false statement by Smith why Amero got convicted? No, much of the case apparently came down to the prosecution's self-righteous statement "she should have turned off the computer," which is absurd.

    Consider Amero was not computer literate (and not trained on the equipment), working that day as a substitute teacher under orders not to turn off the computer, and was arguably shocked and feeling somewhat helpless by the situation.

    She made every attempt to block the children from seeing the offending material and sought assistance from the proper authorities in the matter.

    This was not a case of a "teacher surfing porn." This was an accident directly caused by the state of the computer equipment.

    What should have happened? First, that version of Windows and Internet Explorer are known to be highly vulnerable to these problems. It would have been helpful if the system had adequate security software.

    But what is quite damning is the school didn't have up-to-date content filtering in place.

    Even the federal government requires content filtering for schools (that receive federal funding), as mandated by Children's Internet Protection Act.

    This case must be thrown out on appeal, and Amero is entirely within her rights to sue for a full resumption of her prior duties with back pay.

    Her only "crime" may be computer illiteracy, apparently a crime shared by others in the case. Let's get the teachers back to teaching, not defending themselves from such poorly conceived and baseless lawsuits and witchunts.

    Alex Eckelberry is president of Sunbelt Software, a Florida software company that specializes in anti-spyware, firewall and other protection technologies for computers. His e-mail is AlexE@sunbelt-software.com

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