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Teacher Julie Amero Gets a New Trial 341

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the score-one-for-common-sense dept.
LazloHollyfeld writes "A New London Superior court judge this morning granted a defense request seeking a new trial for Julie Amero, the former Norwich middle school substitute teacher convicted of exposing her middle school students to Internet porn. Acting on a motion by Amero's attorney, William Dow III, Judge Hillary Strackbein placed the case back on a trial list. Amero had faced 40 years on the conviction of four counts of risk of injury to a minor. State prosecutor David Smith confirmed that further forensic examination at the state crime lab of Amero's classroom computer revealed "some erroneous information was presented during the trial. Amero and her defense team claimed she was the victim of pop-up ads — something that was out of her control. Judge Strackbein said because of the possibility of inaccurate facts, Amero was "entitled to a new trial in the interest of justice." After the brief court appearance, a smiling Amero stood next to her attorney. "I feel very comfortable with the decision," Amero said. Dow commended the state for investigating the case further. A new court date has yet to be scheduled. Amero has reentered a not guilty plea."
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Teacher Julie Amero Gets a New Trial

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  • by uolamer (957159) * on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:29PM (#19416895)
    The Pop-up add made me do it!
    • by Major Blud (789630) * on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#19416913) Homepage
      I think this guy had to be the prosecutions' "computer expert".... http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/27/ 135221&tid=133 [slashdot.org]
      • by loraksus (171574)
        Actually, it was a "detective" who perjured himself by saying that you had to click on a link "for it to turn purple" (when, in fact, any visited link - via javascript redirect or whatever - will cause a link to "turn purple")
        No action has been taken against this lying shitbag and given the behavior of the prosecutor, that "i wanna be tough on crime so I get elected mayor" fuckhead will probably call the same asshole again and some fucking tard jurors won't have any more sense than the last bunch.
        The legal
    • Re:Legal Defence (Score:4, Insightful)

      by HermMunster (972336) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:12PM (#19417377)
      Any attempt at prosecution in this matter is nothing but a total injustice. I fix computers every day. I remove malware. It is incredibly easy to get infected under Windows. Most of this is due to negligence on the part of Microsoft. It is exacerbated by the ignorance of the average user. Virtually any site can be dangerous. Some of this software is incredibly difficult to get rid of while retaining the integrity of the prior install. A substitute school teacher would have no idea how she got infected nor how to remove it once it was infected.

      We should not be prosecuting this lady. We should be prosecuting the advertisers and adware distributors. Listen if it wasn't for the advertisers we'd have no malware products. We should also be suing Microsoft for their negligence in their failure to protect the children and the school for not ensuring proper protection to begin with.

      Schools should be mandated to use Linux with strict account control. Without a doubt the issues are with Windows, the advertisers, with malware creators, and the school IT people. Someone using a computer for whatever reason should not be held liable because they unwittingly find their way to a malicious site. If they installed Linux on those boxes the accounts would be so compartmentalized there's be little to no adware and no infections that were more difficult to clean than backing up the account data and wiping the account.

      The whole idea of holding this poor lady responsible for everyone else's fuck ups is just ludicrous. I know they are saying she did this on purpose and that she was hoping she'd create havoc and harm these children's development and hoped to get fired for doing so. If this hadn't been overturned on this appeal it certainly would have been overturned higher up. This poor woman is being abused by the powers that be and is being used as a scapegoat. This is just sad.
  • by hexed_2050 (841538) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:30PM (#19416909)
    *sings* The Internet is for porn...
  • 40 years?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Myrrh (53301) * <matthew@mccle[ ] ... t ['ary' in gap]> on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:33PM (#19416937)
    40 years? For this? Good lord. Aren't there any real criminals we could lock up instead? It's insane.

    I'd consider even four years to be excessive for such an offense.
    • Yeah, being a lamer doesn't worth 40 years in prison.
    • Re:40 years?!? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:36PM (#19416967)
      Teachers don't get 4 years for doing it with students.
      • Re:40 years?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QCompson (675963) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:13PM (#19417383)
        Teachers don't get 4 years for doing it with students.

        Don't put any ideas into the heads of legislators. Instead of decreasing the 40 year penalty for this crime, they'll just ramp up other punishments until they're 40 years. Kissing a student: 40 years. Waving hello suggestively to a student: 40 years. Having a student interpret your cough as sexual: 40 years. As far as I can tell, sentences almost never become more lenient, they just get progressively harsher and more draconian.
        • This is part of the philosophy of the modern criminal justice system. Heavy maximum sentences are simply a bargaining chip granted to prosecutors to efficiently dispose of cases that probably don't merit a trial. Prosecutors in the real world are the de facto judge and jury 90% of the time, due to the fact that they have the discretion to pick and chose cases to prosecute with draconian penalties. The best you can hope for is to pick responsible, reasonable people for that position. Prosecutors examine
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jkabbe (631234)
        Female teachers don't get 4 years for doing it with students.

        Fixed.

        Male teachers get sent to prison to die.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      Was she ever actually sentenced to 40 years? My guess is no.
    • Indeed. I care if the teacher went to school and passed out free Debbie-does-Dallas tapes to each and every student, that is NOT a 40 year sentence worthy crime. No... wait, I'm sure the MPAA would say it is... copyright infringement and all. But you get the idea.
    • Re:40 years?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:31PM (#19417599)

      40 years? For this? Good lord. Aren't there any real criminals we could lock up instead? It's insane.

      Don't you know politicans want to look like thier tough on crime? The easiest way to do this is to go after people for non violent "crimes". Send someone who uses marijuana recreationally in their home to gaol for 25 years or another person accused of showing children porn for 40. Of cource they'd then have to release murderers and rapists after just 5 years.

      Falcon
    • Re:40 years?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HappyEngineer (888000) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @10:59PM (#19419753) Homepage
      I'd consider even 4 minutes at a trial to be too excessive for this. Who in their right mind thought this was something that should even be prosecuted?

      The moral of the story: never ever do anything of any kind anywhere near children that are not yours. And, walk on eggshells around your own kids. Never become a teacher for people under 18 because you can end up in jail for doing nothing wrong. Never work at a day care center. Never talk to kids on the street even to ask them the time. You are putting your freedom in another person's hands when doing so.

      This sort of prosecution is the exact opposite of helping children. By making teaching a risky job, you're going to drive even more people away from the profession. No sane person would ever become a teacher to kids. The money is low. The aggravation is high. The legal risk is high. You have to really love being around kids to work under those conditions. Heck, one day maybe the only people who would willingly be teachers are pedophiles who can't help themselves. It's the catholic priest principle. (priests aren't allowed to have sex, so only sexually repressed people become priests, and sexually repressed people will sometimes lose control in the worst possible way)

      The more we try to protect the children, the worse we make the world for those children.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smellsofbikes (890263)
        When I was in my 20's I went to a lot of local elementary schools and gave talks on medieval history and demonstrations of how to make medieval armor. In college I worked with a statewide physics education program where we built demonstrators of basic physics principles and took them to many local elementary and junior high schools. I used to work with church youth groups. Then, over a period of two years, two of my friends were convicted to lifetime sentences in federal prisons for child-related crimes
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      People always complain when new laws are enacted that are already covered by old laws. Why should we pass law x when law y already covers that?

      My guess is that "contributing to the delinquency of" or "abuse of" a child carries a pretty hard penalty. You have to cover everything from letting kids see you smoke or swear all the way up to showing kids how to properly cut up and dispose of a human corpse. Hence, 40-years maximum for violation of that law.

      The chances of someone being sentenced to the max are
  • lazy (Score:5, Funny)

    by crAckZ (1098479) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:34PM (#19416941)
    i remember when teachers would have sex with the students. now they just show you internet porn. techers at public schools have gotten so lazy. Do it right or dont do it.
  • Injury.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Brian Ribbon (986353) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:39PM (#19417001) Journal

    "....risk of injury to a minor"


    Indeed, I'm sure the boys were horrified when they had to tolerate pop-up porn after being able to view the stuff they'd bought with their mom's credit card....
  • by yooman (309883) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:46PM (#19417107) Journal
    wouldn't mozilla firefox have halted unwanted popups?

    only if people listened to the nerds who know.
  • by demiurgency (1072428) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:47PM (#19417111)
    This whole topic makes me so incredibly furious. Forty years in jail, for being the vicitm of spyware? Even if the defendant used a school laptop in at home and visited some questionable sites, that should at most earn her a fine, as a strict warning to other educators that extremely careful to not bring a laptop into the class when it might be compromised. The only real justice here would be if the creator of that pop-up ad/spyware would be tracked down by their 1-900 number and they be convicted to forty years in jail. This is an utter failure of the justice system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      She wasn't sentenced; 40 years is the max she hypothetically could have been sentenced to (4 charges with a max of 10 years each, served consecutively for example).

      No sane judge would issue such a sentence, though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        No sane judge would issue such a sentence, though.

        True enough, I suppose, but the problem with the modern American Justice system is that it is a crapshoot. You never know what you're facing when you enter the courtroom. Worse, in a situation such as this one, you can't depend upon anyone else in the room having a grasp of the technological underpinnings of your case, even if you do.
  • by Evets (629327) * on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:49PM (#19417141) Homepage Journal
    Here's a link to some commentary by a guy who actually reviewed a copy of the hard drive from the porn-serving computer: http://www.networkperformancedaily.com/2007/01/the _strange_case_of_ms_julie_a_1.html [networkper...edaily.com]

    This woman was a substitute teacher.

    We examined all internet related folders and files before October 19, 2004, during October 19, 2004 and after October 19, 2004. Most significantly, we noted freeze.com, screensaver.com, eharmony.com and zedo.com were being accessed regularly.


    Sounds like the regular classroom teacher had a lot of time on her hands to go surfing around.
    • by Intron (870560) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:59PM (#19417225)
      Or the janitor.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aegisalpha (58712)
      I laughed at this part:

      All of the jpg's that we looked at in the internet cache folders were of the 5, 6 and 15 kB size, very small images indeed. Normally, when a person goes to a pornographic website they are interested in the larger pictures of greater resolution and those jpgs would be at least 35 kB and larger. We found no evidence of where this kind of surfing was exercised on October 19, 2004.


      "Most people prefer higher quality porn!"
    • by Kijori (897770)
      Have you been to those sites? 2 screensaver sites, online dating and an ad serving site. To me that sounds like the fourth site was serving the ads to the first 3 - especially since they are common examples of online advertising. Furthermore, the computer wasn't exclusively used by the teacher; it was also used by pupils.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @05:58PM (#19417213)
    I'm happily posting from an European country. I remember a handful of events like this, usually with those "videotape" thingies you hardly remember anymore...well, back to the story. Occasionally it was the teacher who made a little mistake, more often it was one of the kids who smuggled in some porn when the teacher wasn't watching. The latter happened a few times in my class. I was maybe 13. (Never was the one who smuggled it, though. Honestly!)

    Now, what was the reaction, from both the kids and the parents?

    Basically, "Hee hee." Maybe some frowning by those few who actually go to church (quite rare around here) but that's all. If you even tried suing over this, you'd more likely get fined for being a crackpot and wasting the court's time.

    "Injury to a minor"? 40 years? This would be some great comedy if it wasn't true. Now it's tragicomedy.
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:01PM (#19417261) Homepage

    Amero had faced 40 years on the conviction of four counts of risk of injury to a minor
    Risk of injury! What, were they worried the children would all go blind or something?
    • by Myrrh (53301) *
      Go blind, develop hairy palms, turn into basement-dwelling, Slashdot-surfing geeks with no social life ... who knows what else might happen?
  • Injurious? How? Where are the laws against the laws that deny sexuality and discovery.
  • Add'l Info (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evets (629327) * on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:02PM (#19417287) Homepage Journal
    According to http://www.courant.com/news/local/hcu-amerotrial-0 606,0,4739321.story [courant.com] the state is unlikely to prosecute her a second time.

    Also, there, it states that her sentencing was postponed 4 times this spring as the state considered new evidence. It's not clear how much - if any - time was spent in jail.

    It's disturbing that the teachers unions did not come to her defense, or at least push to have more light shed on the situations that teachers face regularly in the classroom. Yeah, this girl was a substitute, but the case has a large bearing on teachers in general.

    If I was sent to investigate this situation, and ran into a pregnant substitute teacher who was given instructions not to turn off the computer under any circumstances it would be hard not to take a look at the potential pop-up/spyware situation. Is there nobody that works for the police department, prosecutors office, the school, or the school board who has any real IT experience?
    • Re:Add'l Info (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pongo000 (97357) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:36PM (#19417629)
      It's disturbing that the teachers unions did not come to her defense

      As a long-time union member, I can assure you that the image of the union (or gains made via concessions by management) almost always trumps the protectionism provided its members. I have personally been "sold down the river" when it became clear that the union stood more to gain from honoring management's wishes that I would just go away rather than defending me (ironic, since I was a union rep with the singular goal of defending my bargaining unit members). I have seen many others treated similarly over the years.

      BTW, this really isn't a dig for or against unions; it's just something you accept when you get involved with a union.
  • by boyko.at.netqos (1024767) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:06PM (#19417325)
    at length on NetworkPerformanceDaily.com [networkper...edaily.com]

    Here are some links to stories we did:
  • Double Standard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:07PM (#19417337)
    Whenever I hear about this stuff, or when some hot female teacher has sex with a student, I know that as an adult, and a parent, I'm supposed to be upset and outraged, but... If it was me, and some hot female teacher wanted to do some extracurricular activities at her house or some hot chick from my class wanted to take me on a magic carpet ride...I don't think I'd be that upset.
  • by vorlich (972710) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @06:26PM (#19417553) Homepage Journal
    with pornography is just weird, and even though I am a born and bred Scottish Lutheran - sheesh I did Grow-Up and had an education. Resident as I am on the Continent, (where the Alps are on my doorstep) I am fortunate enough to live where the local population, in general, has a very sensible attitude to sex. It occupies no more of an obsession than clothes, food, beer, balsamico, olive oil and er...George W. Bush (Okay, you can't have everything), so while this is a marginally interesting post it is really a huge load of tosh about an idiosyncrancy that is entirely peculiar to our companions across the big pond, who spent some time chucking English tea into Boston Harbour.
    You know sex, drugs,rock n roll - these are just things we do.
    Snowboarding is where we are at.
    What we want is long powder.
  • OBSimpsons: "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" -- Homer
  • by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @08:30PM (#19418647)
    When I served on our local school board, one of our teachers had pop-ups take over his screen when a student used the PC while the teacher was logged in. He quickly responded to the situation to minimize the exposure, but some students still saw things they shouldn't, according to the district, and it was reported up the chain. When I heard about it, I was more unhappy with the IT folks who can manage to block all sorts of sites, and lock down this, and make impenetrable that, according to their boasts, but couldn't block a pop-up. I argued that if anyone should be punished, it should be the head IT guy, but, as only one voice among seven on the board, I was overruled and the principal wrote up the teacher for some infraction or another - I don't recall exactly what they settled on. I don't believe it was turned over to the police or DA, though.

    Good luck with the re-trial, but if their district is anything like ours, a "not guilty" verdict still won't help her get her job back. Not that she'd want to work for them, anyway...
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @08:42PM (#19418767) Homepage
    The biggest problems in schools in the US today are the parents and administration. The teacher is caught in the middle.

    Absolutely, any teacher that allowed something to be viewed that parents object to will be villified, investigated and possibly fired by the administration. It doesn't matter if it is pornography, white supremacy, or evolution. If the parents do not agree with the material, the teacher is in trouble for bringing it out in the classroom. And in most cases, the teacher is getting zero support from the administration.

    This teacher that was told not to turn off the computer and couldn't seem to control it obviously had no business in a classroom with a computer in it. Any barrage of porn popups is going to be distracting, titilating and going to cause problems when the students talk about what they have seen. Sure, you can say "Titties for everyone" but the parents don't seem to agree. They want to control their children's access to explicit sexual materials and the school is telling them that they can. So when a teacher proves this control isn't present, the parents blame the school and the teacher.

    Sex education in US schools has been watered down over the last 20-30 years so completely that it is almost pointless. The parents of even a minority of children can block this from being any meaningful exchange of information. The result is what the parents say they want - they control access to sexual information. So girls end up having sex at 12 without ever understanding this is where babies come from and yes, you can get pregnant if you do it standing up. But parents are demanding this kind of control so the school gives in.
  • by jkabbe (631234) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @08:55PM (#19418897)
    The fact that this case is being prosecuted just sickens me. This prosecutor needs to stand behind the Duke lacrosse prosecutor in the line to get his license revoked.
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @09:24PM (#19419107) Journal
    There is exactly one option that will, at this point, make me say "justice served." That is complete and immediate dismissal of all charges and disbarment of the prosecutor who pursued this in the first place.

    If this does go to trial, my defense strategy would be this: Bring one expert witness after another to the stand to testify that this could happen on a poorly patched and insecure system regardless of what this woman may have done. Eventually the prosecution will have to stipulate that fact to which one must then say "So, why are we here?"

    This just makes me amazingly angry.

    One more note... don't try to wiggle out of jury duty, folks. That may be your chance to be the voice or reason and to see justice done. It may also be an opportunity to exercise your right of Jury Nullification. [wikipedia.org]

    -S
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tinkerghost (944862)

      If this does go to trial, my defense strategy would be this: Bring one expert witness after another to the stand to testify that this could happen on a poorly patched and insecure system regardless of what this woman may have done.

      That would be great - unless the judge bars your experts from testifying, like this judge did with this case. She had an expert, who was much better qualified than the prosecutors 'witness' to provide testimony, who was prohibited from testifying. Essentially the judge & pros

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @10:32AM (#19423333)

    The school in this case was a middle school (jr. high).
    The teacher was not surfing the web for pr0n as some have suggested. The images were pop-ups ads that appeared on her computer.
    Only some students saw the images in questions as her monitor did not face the class.
    She informed the school of the problem but was told not to turn off the computer.
    The teacher was not computer literate enough to know to turn off the monitor.
    The school did not have firewalls, spyware removal tools, etc.
    The state placed all the responsibility on her and did not believe that she could have received pornographic pop-ups without visiting pornographic sites.

    As someone who has had to clean up many pop-up infections of other people, all it takes is one click to a shady site to get infected. One of my friends was horrified when these ads starting appearing on her computer as she was the kind of person that didn't even curse. I checked out her history and found the offending site. It was a lyrics site that she had visited to look up lyrics of a song. The ads she got were not always pornographic in nature. Some of them were general ads but the nature of these shady sites means that they attract businesses that are less than reputable. So I installed firefox and Google toolbar. I recommended she use firefox but in case she didn't like it, the Google toolbar should block most of them.

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