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Man Gets 12-Year Jail Sentence For Planting Child Porn On Enemy's Computer 448

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an update to a story we discussed in August about Neil Weiner, a man who sought to ruin the life of a school caretaker by planting child pornography on his computer. Weiner has now been convicted on two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail. "The judge told Weiner that his plot to have Mr. Thompson sacked and prosecuted very nearly succeeded. Police had been careful not to make public their arrest of the caretaker and only informed those at the school who needed to know, he said. 'But you gratuitously and spitefully informed the local press so that he and his wife suffered the distress of the unwelcome publicity which followed.' Mr. Thompson's health and that of his wife suffered. The judge said: 'There are still those who believe, and probably always will, that he is a pedophile. I am wholly satisfied that Mr. Thompson is innocent.' ... Weiner had discovered the caretaker's password by looking over his shoulder one day and been caught doing so. When Mr. Thompson was asked why he did not change it, he said he wished he had, adding: 'Who in their worst nightmares would could have thought that anyone could stoop to do what he did?'"
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Man Gets 12-Year Jail Sentence For Planting Child Porn On Enemy's Computer

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:17PM (#33689170) Journal

    What an appropriate charge. Also, this guy can rot.

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:41PM (#33689516)
      How much time would his victim have gotten? He should get the same + one year for being an asshole.
    • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:53PM (#33689696) Journal

      What an appropriate charge. Also, this guy can rot.

      The truly sad thing is that he very well may be rotting alongside victims of the more successful (weren't caught) perverters of justice. Unless, of course, we just assume this is the first time someone has ever attempted this.
       
      It'd be interesting to see what percentage of those convicted of possession of child pornography claimed they were framed/had-no-knowledge-of-the-pornography, and how much effort law enforcement spent in checking the validity of those claims.

      I suspect that the numbers would be pretty damn disappointing/terrifying.

      • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Friday September 24, 2010 @03:43PM (#33691132) Journal

        It'd be interesting to see what percentage of those convicted of possession of child pornography claimed they were framed/had-no-knowledge-of-the-pornography

        Part of the problem is that virtually everyone in the penal system insists they are innocent, especially those who are most guilty. Case and point; within the last few years here in MA, there was a convicted rapist who insisted for years that he was innocent. Eventually enough people supported him that he got enough attention and legal representation to have DNA tests done that were unavailable when he was convicted. The result? The tests confirmed beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that he was the rapist.

        Why would he demand a test that he should have known would prove his guilt? Who knows. Maybe he was protesting his innocence so much for so long, that when someone offered to get the tests done, he either had to play along, or 'fess up that he had been lying about his innocence. Either way, he's not alone. Given what I've heard about how pedos/rapists/kiddie porn collectors are treated in prison, insisting on one's innocence may be the only survival strategy many of them have. Bottom line: regardless of actual guilt, your survey would probably return 99.99% claims of innocence before and after conviction (not counting plea bargains).

        That being said, actually knowing the numbers (assuming we had the appropriate crystal ball) you are looking for would indeed likely be interesting and terrifying. I'm sure it has happened. I've heard a few different people mutter something to the effect that they would like to plant something similar on someone's computer to get back at them. Each time, I've taken it as someone simply venting anger (if I had killed someone every time I said I'd like to, I'd be worse than Ted Bundy), but it's the kind of thing that sticks in the back of my mind sometimes. Just in case I see the intended victim's name in the paper someday ...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jainith (153344)

          (if I had killed someone every time I said I'd like to...)

          There's a great short story about this that I read many years back...I don't recall the name but basically

          11 of the 12 Jurors immediately want to vote guilty...

          The 12th is actually interested in the case/process etc. and begins to convince some of the others of his "reasonable doubts".

          In the climax the 12th juror provokes one of the others into saying "I'm going to kill you!" ...echoing a statement made by the defendant. This was a key part of the case against the defendant so demonstrating that that statem

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday September 24, 2010 @05:14PM (#33692260) Journal

          On the other hand I know of at least two cases where DNA proved two murderers were innocent. They lost 25 years of their lives, because the government stubbornly refused to do a simple test..... they could have been released ten years earlier.

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday September 24, 2010 @04:22PM (#33691552) Journal

      One of her best friends just called her. This woman's house was just raided by the FBI this morning. Turns out that her boyfriend was into child porn. I've hung out with them, he seemed like a regular guy. I liked him. Now I don't know what to think, or feel. I know I feel a little dirty just from having hung out with him. But I also feel some sympathy, because I know the guy, and before I found this out, I liked him. I can't imagine what his girlfriend is going through. Can you ever take enough showers to feel clean after that?

      I know he had a screwed up childhood. I guess I just didn't know how screwed up. And now I can't help but contemplate his future. It isn't pretty. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it, kiddie porn is inexcusable. But his life is over now. If I were somehow in his position, I know what I'd do. I know the man owns guns. There aren't many situations where suicide might just be the best answer, but along with painful terminal illness, this is one of them.

      I just feel sick now, I could barely eat lunch today. The wife and I offered to help clean up after the mess the FBI left, tearing up the place. But cleaning the physical mess is only the first step.

  • Lethal Weapon VII (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:17PM (#33689172)
    The use of child porn as a weapon will now land you in jail longer than
    • Armed Robbery with an AK-47
    • Shooting into a crowd
    • Selling heroin to children

    All of the above combined

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:21PM (#33689238) Journal

      The ultimate weapon of the twenty first century: a catapult that fires naked children at your enemies.

      • The ultimate weapon of the twenty first century: a catapult that fires naked children at your enemies.

        Poor Michael Jackson died too early... He would have loved that idea!

        • by hedwards (940851) on Friday September 24, 2010 @04:51PM (#33691918)
          Sigh, the man was indicted but never convicted. He has subsequently died, don't you think that it's about time that the jokes about his alleged sexual offenses died off?

          I mean he was found to be not guilty by a jury of his peers and the evidence was never particularly strong anyways.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          There's no indication MJ liked playing with children naked.

          And even when brought to trial, the court declared him innocent. So why does everyone automatically label him "child molester"? It would be wiser to say, "I don't know if he molested children or not," rather than treat him like a pariah. You are really no better than those persons in the Salem Witch Trials (assuming guilt upon mere, unproven gossip).

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Flying naked children are perfectly OK weapons of war.

        However, 8X10 glossies of same are classified as illegal WMDs.

      • by Selfbain (624722) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:48PM (#33690486)

        The ultimate weapon of the twenty first century: a catapult that fires naked children at your enemies.

        If you give those children MP3 players filled with pirated music this weapon might just be capable of destroying the world.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AmberBlackCat (829689)

          The ultimate weapon of the twenty first century: a catapult that fires naked children at your enemies.

          If you give those children MP3 players filled with pirated music this weapon might just be capable of destroying the world.

          Now we know how people will get their music in the future.

    • This. Broken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Boohoo. The guy was attempting to destroy the life of someone else and get them sent away to prison for a long time. He better start loosening his ass up now so it hurts less when he hits the cell block.

      • by Applekid (993327) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:38PM (#33689462)

        That's the point. The social stigma and legal punishments for what amounts to a thought-crime (mere possession of child pornography, not the creation of it) is above crimes that cause real, tangible harm to other people.

        Instead of pinning child porn on the caretaker, he could have just outright shot him and suffered a more lenient fate*.

        * Assuming, of course, GP is being factual in the list of crimes that have more lenient punishments.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Instead of pinning child porn on the caretaker, he could have just outright shot him and suffered a more lenient fate*.

          * Assuming, of course, GP is being factual in the list of crimes that have more lenient punishments.

          Except none of what he states is relevant to either murder (which is a mandatory life sentence in England) or attempted murder. Both of which are far more stringently punished then what happened here.

          • by Applekid (993327)

            Both of which are far more stringently punished then what happened here.

            Oh. Thanks for clearing that up. Point withdrawn.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          The GP doesn't say shot. He could rob the caretaker at gunpoint, put not shoot him.

          I'm sure if you took a shot at a kid they'd give you at least 12 years.

        • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:47PM (#33690472)

          He was done for perverting the course of justice. Which is not a thought crime in any aspect.

          It causes real harm to other people, undermining the justice system itself. I'd argue it is a more serious offense than murder - not for the person being murdered or their families/friends, but for society in general.

          And in the UK all those listed offences (and perverting the course of justice as well) have life in prison as their maximum. of course you don't usually get the maximum. But in a country where the general duty police don't carry guns I'm pretty sure you are getting more than 12 years in prison if you use an AK-47 to commit armed robbery...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by houghi (78078)

          That will be my defense if I decide to kill someone. "I wanted to file a false child abuse claim against him, but I am not THAT sick, so I just clubbed him to death."

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hedwards (940851)
          It's not a thought crime. People go to prison for possession because they're ultimately in part responsible for the abuse. Either, by paying for it or trading for it. Additionally, they've failed to report the abuse to the police, and I doubt very much that would be significantly more likely to happen if it were legalized.

          But then again, why let reality get in the way of a ZOMG gubmint abuse post.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cyber-vandal (148830)

          Your right to wank off over Miley Cyrus is not what's at issue here. It's photos of children being abused, i.e. real harm to real humans demanded by those who are just "harmlessly" looking at "harmless" photos.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, and i suppose it is worse than ACTUALLY destroying someone's life, permanently? As in, you know, KILLING them?
        Yes, the tool definitely deserves to be punished, but that sentencing is messed up, regardless of how much of a dick he was.

        You're the kind of mob-mentality that probably stands outside "convicted" pedophiles doors throwing stuff at them.
        The whole "taboo", witch-hunt of the 21st century over child porn, pedophilia and so on is pathetic.
        You can have your entire life ruined for being a moderato

        • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:47PM (#33689604)

          Yeah, and i suppose it is worse than ACTUALLY destroying someone's life, permanently? As in, you know, KILLING them?

          No. Nice strawman, though. If he had murdered the guy he would be facing a mandatory life sentence rather than this 12 years.

          BTW, I'm not a "think of the children person". The fact that he tried to destroy this person's life with child porn is irrelevant. He could have tried to frame him for any other number of things and I still wouldn't feel a lick of sympathy for him.

    • by The Moof (859402)
      Just curious, but what are the sentences for those in the UK?
    • by Faluzeer (583626) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:00PM (#33689792)
      Hmmm

      It will also get you a longer sentence than abusing hundreds of children as in the following case [bbc.co.uk]

      The above case seems to be remarkably lenient, given the sheer scale of the abuse I would have thought a life sentence would have been more appropriate.

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday September 24, 2010 @03:21PM (#33690912) Journal

      As it should, IMHO. Were you attempting to shock us into thinking this should be otherwise?

      If you commit armed robbery with an AK-47 (or whichever weapon you choose to wield?), you've presumably been successful in taking some money that wasn't yours -- but this charge, alone, doesn't mean you physically harmed anyone.

      If you shoot into a crowd, again, you put people at RISK of injury or death, but again, if you actually injured/killed someone, the crime wouldn't simply be "shooting into a crowd" any longer.

      If you sell heroin to children? Well, you're not likely to get off too easy for that one .... but at least you were simply conducting a business transaction with an illegal substance. Without looking into each individual circumstance, we know little to nothing about the long-term effects that sale had on the kid(s) who did the buying. Maybe they were just paid something to buy it for an adult family member who knew kids wouldn't serve time for such an act?

      If you plant child porn on someone's computer or other property with successful intent to frame them for collecting it? You *definitely* ruined that person's life/reputation. There's really no "potentially" about it! They're going to go to prison for a long time for that crime they didn't commit, PLUS after they get out, they're stuck "checking in" with probation officers on pretty much a weekly basis, are restricted as to where they can buy or rent a home, and will have a really tough time getting respectable jobs. Many jobs will be illegal for them to obtain, period (such as a handyman or construction worker doing any work for schools or day-care/child-care centers). Even if you were DIRECTLY responsible for getting a person hooked on illegal drugs, at least that person could go seek treatment and get back off of them. There is no "cure" for someone's sexual interest in underage kids, so nowhere the framed individual could ever go to prove he was no longer a risk.

  • 12 Years, not enough (Score:2, Informative)

    by Faatal (1907534)
    Should have been much longer in my opinion.
    • You're assuming he's going to survive jail that long.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by guyminuslife (1349809)
      Someone always says this whenever anyone is found guilty of anything.

      I'm thinking that if the penal code were written by random people on the Internet, we'd guillotine more people than Robespierre.
  • Live and learn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by al0ha (1262684) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:20PM (#33689220) Journal
    Who in their worst nightmares would could have thought that anyone could stoop to do what he did?

    This clearly illustrates that until lay persons learn to think otherwise in terms of privacy and security on systems and networks; nothing is going to get better.
    • by Svartalf (2997)

      After having seen what people with Personality Disorders are capable of, I could've thought that they would've stooped even lower than this.

    • Re:Live and learn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:31PM (#33690292) Homepage

      Who in their worst nightmares would could have thought that anyone could stoop to do what he did?

      This clearly illustrates that until lay persons learn to think otherwise in terms of privacy and security on systems and networks; nothing is going to get better.

      Hello??? If you people go out sometimes (you know, the big blue room with the bright light) do you always wear your bullet-proof west, keep your back against the wall at all times and look for cover points in case somebody around you is a raving psychopath looking to stab someone or lurking with a sniper rifle? No, I don't trust strangers but if you think this should be "expected" then you must have serious problems functioning in a society with other people. If I realized someone saw my password and thought "hey, maybe they'll plant child porn on my computer, report it to the police and alert the media to ruin my life and send me to prison for god-knows-how long" then I'd be an hermit living in a cave far, far away from everyone else.

  • Not suprising... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:21PM (#33689240)
    This isn't surprising when you have laws forbidding the possession of information and a stigma that persists if someone were to openly come against ridiculous laws simply forbidding possession of information.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Norwell Bob (982405)
      I must be reading your post incorrectly, because what I'm getting from it is that you consider child pornography to be 'information'. Please tell me I'm wrong.
      • by vadim_t (324782)

        It is, in several senses.

        information
        noun
        1. knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; news:information [information] concerning a crime.
        2. knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc.; factual data:His wealth of general information is amazing.
        8. Computers.
        8.a. important or useful facts obtained as output from a computer by means of processing input data with a program:Using the input data, we have come up with some significant new information.
        8.b. data a

      • by durrr (1316311)
        Technically it's just a string of binary you're posesssing, and he do have a point in the stigmatisation. Had Mr Thompson been accused of murdering children instead he certainly wouldn't have been spit upon. And had Mrs Thompson had affairs with schoolchildren it too would've passed with lesser spite.

        From a personal point i would much rather prefer to be laid by Mrs Thompson while in 3rd grade, and if i instead had to chose between Mr Weiner the Butt-rape-bandit and Mr Manson the maniac-murderer, the cho
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I once saw photos taken by a (IIRC) French photographer at the previous turn of the century (1900s) of nude adolescent girls playing in the water. That's all. Nothing sexual about it. They're about as arousing as a table leg. I can't remember the photographer's name, but that's beside the point. In other countries, he's considered a great artist. In the US a child pornographer.

        We in the US have retarded attitudes towards sex and we are the twisted ones. If you think nude pictures of child are pornography,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Waaaaaah. I'm so broken up inside over people getting in trouble for possessing pictures and videos taking of people being raped. Oh how sad it is for them.

    • by DanTheStone (1212500) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:50PM (#33689660)
      You are correct. Possession of anything as a crime makes it extremely easy to frame people, and interferes with presumption of innocence (since it doesn't care how that came into your possession, only that it existed). It is also extremely difficult to change, since wanting to fix a broken system leads to you being called a witch yourself.

      And the parent may have been flamebait, but it seems like the natural conversation for this story.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:38PM (#33689456) Homepage Journal

    'Who in their worst nightmares would could have thought that anyone could stoop to do what he did?

    When I was growing up, my dad once told me something along the lines of, "Boy, think of the worst, meanest, most downright, terrible thing you would be willing to do to someone that you truly hated. Now, you can safely make the assumption that someone else out there could come up with something worse if you give them enough reason. Remember that."

    I always did.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:48PM (#33689614) Homepage Journal

    Who in their worst nightmares would could have thought that anyone could stoop to do what he did?

    While I can understand some naivity, it's not like computer kiddie porn is the first witch hunt.

    Whether criminalizing kiddie porn is a good idea or a bad one (I can understand the viewpoint of the porn enabling the crimes / creating the demand), when you have thoughtcrimes on the books, everyone really should be expecting that sometimes innocent people will be harmed. I think that when someone says they can't believe it would happen, they probably really mean that they think it'll probably never happen to them. Probably.

  • ... if the guy hadn't blabbed.

    More than anything else, this is the single best reason for keeping your security tight and your password secret - especially from caretakers, who will have free, unfettered and prolonged access to your work computers after you've gone home..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thasmudyan (460603)

      More than anything else, this is the single best reason for keeping your security tight and your password secret - especially from caretakers, who will have free, unfettered and prolonged access to your work computers after you've gone home..

      It's technically infeasible (maybe even impossible) to secure a computer at your workplace from coworkers, even if you're an expert. Sure, you can make it harder for them, but in the end they can always get to you - be it with the OS install disk or a simple keylogger.

  • Good job! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Friday September 24, 2010 @02:07PM (#33689916)

    Police had been careful not to make public their arrest of the caretaker and only informed those at the school who needed to know, he said.

    Good for them, exercising a bit of restraint while the suspect was not yet proven guilty!

  • by Paracelcus (151056) on Friday September 24, 2010 @03:32PM (#33691020) Journal

    If you catch somebody at work doing it, report it to their manager immediately! I've had people fired for this, at IBM we are trained to swivel 180 degrees when a client is entering a password. This is non-trivial, DO NOT ALLOW THIS!

    • by shadowbearer (554144) on Friday September 24, 2010 @07:49PM (#33693596) Homepage Journal

        That is actually good ethical practice in any environment when one is dealing with someone else entering passwords, PINs, etc. I've had quite a few of my customers in the field ask me why, when I ask them to enter their password for something, I turn around and walk off some feet away, and keep my back turned. The action itself seems to be a lot more effective in teaching them password control than just explaining it to them does ;-)

      SB

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