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Ever had some computer malware spit a bunch of porn onto your screen?

Now imagine it happening in a roomful of schoolchildren.

Now imagine it could send you to jail -- for forty years.

That's what happened to Julie Amero, a substitute teacher in Norwich, Conn., in 2004. Using a computer in a room of seventh-graders -- a computer she'd been instructed not to turn off -- after a couple of the students had gone to a hairstyling website, it suddenly began displaying pornographic images that she couldn't stop.

Prosecutor David Smith contended at her original three-day trial that Amero had actually clicked on the graphic Web sites, according to an Associated Press story at the time. She was charged with four counts of risk of injury to a minor, but after her sentencing was delayed four times, her conviction was thrown out and a new trial granted.

This week, facing health problems, Amero pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, paying a $100 fine and losing her teaching license, just to settle the case.

As it turned out, not only was the computer in question unprotected by firewall, antispyware, or pop-up blocking software -- because the district hadn't paid for updates -- but the prosecution hadn't checked the computer for malware, nor would it allow the defense to present evidence of that, because the defense team had not raised it as a possibility early enough during trial preparation, and the prosecution's expert witness was not skilled in that type of forensic research.

In comparison, when a Virginia teacher showed a videotape to a fourth-grade classroom that suddenly turned into pornography, the school district focused instead on how the problem happened -- which the district decided was due to an incomplete tape erasing before the copying process. Nobody -- least of all the teacher -- was charged with any crime.

Certainly it's important to ensure that children are protected from seeing pornography. On the other hand, it's also important to make sure that the police and prosecutors have the appropriate level of skill and technology to find out how a problem actually happened.

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Last Post by slfisher
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Too many people think that they could just run Windows without any sort of protection on public computers, and everything will be just fine...

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some version of Symantec. I can look up the exact name if you wish.

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Wow you get some great lead articles slfisher! I heard about this happening in another country also a few years back; or I may be confused and it could be the same teacher.

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Poor woman. It doesn't make sense that she could be held accountable, when even the police don't know how the "crime" happened. We would all be in trouble if that rationale spread beyond net crimes.

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What's wrong with a little porn. ;)

This reminds me of some guy at the library watching porn, and everyone could see it..... but nobody seemed to real drastically care, other than lots of chuckling.

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Didn't pay for updates??? What would they be running - Windows 95? The fact that the defense didn't think to bring up possible malware as a possibility makes people in Connecticut sound down-right ignorant.
I mean I could expect that coming from the school system, because they were all too lazy and apathetic to do any investigating. But, a lawyer's supposed to be an educated person - I mean, so are teachers and principals but my experience with education majors is that most of them are pretty dumb - it doesn't seem like a lawyer should be that ignorant. Surely, the lawyer (even a public defendant) can afford internet and the like. What, did he conclude that all those annoying pop-ups were the computer's way of being helpful?
You wouldn't expect that in a developed country, but apparrently Norwich Connecticut, USA makes one exception.
Like the teacher said, "I don't know how them bad pictures showed up on the magic box! I dinnt do nothing, I swear!" And, her defense attorney said "I don't know how we're gunna get you outta this. They's gunna hangs you fer sure!"
She probably couldn't afford her own attorney or something.

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Well, at least the judge threw out the case and her conviction. But, why did the bitch plead guilty in the first place? I would've guessed that the prosecuting attorney didn't have much of a case because malware is something most people are familiar. I'd just keep going until they'd convict me, and then go to appeals court, because to me it seems that pleading guilty is admitting you did something wrong.
But, I guess she wanted to go ahead and get her trial over with.

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This whole ordeal reminds me of my own public school experiences, and the drama relating to teachers and faculty. How many people here went to public school in America?
In my old school system, we actually rated top-ten in the country in terms of IT, and we seemed to experience alot of funding because the Governor at the time grew up in that town, but there were was mad corruption in the school board and school administration.

Like, there were at least two counts of sexual harassment between male assistant principal and a student, and a male teacher and a male student. Also, a principal at my highschool got fired because he ignored one of the frequent bomb-threats and let classes carry-on as normal, as opposed to letting us off early that Friday.

Whenever I hear anything inovolving school systems like this, it reminds me how poorly structured the school systems are in this country, and how incompetent the whole lot of them are. It's very much like how incompetent members of the Republican party were becoming right before the Democrats took control over the House and Senate about a couple of years ago, what with the corporate corruption and homosexual sex-scandals that were running rampant within the party.

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She pleaded guilty because she has unspecified health problems and she didn't want to deal with it any more, apparently. She isn't planning to teach again anyway.

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