Teacher Faces 40 Years For In Class Porn Surfing, Blames Spyware

from the Spyware-killed-my-wife dept

Blaming your illegal computing activity on trojans or spyware infections is quickly becoming the new hot (and successful) legal defense. If ever you're busted for child porn, tax fraud or a DDoS attack -- simply suggest to the authorities that spyware has turned your PC into an automated menace, completely outside of your control. That's the defense one substitute teacher in Connecticut decided she'd try, after authorities arrested her for allegedly browsing for porn in front of a class full of seventh-grade students. The teacher's lawyer argued that the teacher hit a hair-styling website, resulting in spyware infection, which in turn "led to this pornographic loop that was out of control." The jury didn't buy it, and the teacher now faces up to forty years in prison after being found guilty on four counts of impairing the morals of a child. Whether she did it or not (and it's really not clear from the skimpy computer forensic detail provided by the article), forty years seems excessive. Despite her conviction, the number of acquittals this defense has seen means your odds are still pretty good if you want to blame your next big heist on your crappy firewall.


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    PhysicsGuy, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 2:44pm

    "impairing the morals of a child" is a crime?!?!?! o.O ... god, i don't even know WHERE to begin witch hunting with this one... :P

     

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    Paul, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:11pm

    seen this before, sort of

    I work on PC's for a living, and have seen two different businesses where (female) temp's were caught surfing porn and fired. Sad commentary on work ethics, and a sign of just how addicting some things can become.

     

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    no1, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:15pm

    This is digusting.

    40 years??? If it's for her ignorance of safe surfing practices, that's overkill. If it's for showing seventh-graders who have probably already seen porn some questionable advertisements, it's still overkill.

    So imparing the morals of a child is a felony of all things? Jeez, where are lines drawn on that one? And whose set of morals are the standard?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:22pm

    huh?

    Wouldn't she have gotten less of a sentence if she had accidently killed one of the kids?

     

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    Alex Eckelberry, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    This is so wrong on so many levels

    The defense contends this was a case of spyware on the school machine — a barrage of popups.

    The school didn't have content filtering.

    According to another article, “Computer expert W. Herbert Horner, who performed a forensic examination of the computer for the defense, said Amero may have been redirected to the sexually-oriented sites through a hairstyling site accessed from the computer. He said the site allowed spyware to be downloaded onto the computer which allowed the pop-ups.”

    And, according to one source, the Trial Judge, Hillary Strackbein, “was seen falling asleep during proceedings and made comments to the jury that she wanted the case over by the end of the week. It was also reported that Judge Strackbein attempted to pressure the defense into an unwanted plea deal, in place of a trial. The defense attorney for Amero, moved for a mistrial shortly before closing arguments Friday, based on reports that jurors had discussed the case at a local restaurant.”

    And, the detective in the investigation "admitted there was no search made for adware, which can generate pop-up advertisements".

    Was justice done here? A bad spyware infestation can splatter a machine full of porn popups and it’s a bit unnerving to think that a teacher could get hard prison time for something that was likely to have been completely innocent.

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    It's entirely plausible

    I don't think it's possible anymore to conclude that
    because "X's computer did this" that "X did this".

    I say that for several reasons.

    First, the rampant proliferation of malware is amazing.
    I think at this point, the authors of viruses/worms/spyware/
    adware/whatever are churning out new releases faster than
    others are figuring defenses.

    Second, the reactive nature of most of those defenses (e.g. signatures
    in anti-virus databases) means they'll always be behind.

    Third, the poor design and implementation of many heavily-used
    pieces of software (Outlook comes to mind immediately) guarantees
    malware authors a steady supply of holes to exploit.

    Fourth, as we all sadly know, anti-virus/anti-spyware/anti-*
    programs are often out-of-date or not used or disabled.

    Fifth, contemporary malware is increasing tenacious, and takes
    active steps to avoid countermeasures. Personally, I think the
    concept of "removing" a virus or spyware was always silly:
    the only way to fix a compromised system is to wipe the drives
    and restore from known-good media. To me, this isn't just
    a best practice, it's the only practice. Anything else is just
    wishful thinking.

    The combination of all these factors and others is why enormous
    numbers of systems (overwhelmingly Windows boxes) have been
    compromised. The much-discussed recent NYT piece quotes an
    estimate of 70M; I think it's about 5 times that. But whatever the
    exact number, it's something in the neighborhood of 10e8.

    That's a lot of zombies.

    The new owners of those boxes can do anything they want with
    them -- including using them to host kiddie porn web sites, to
    send out spam promoting those sites, to host DNS for those sites,
    and thus to run their entire illicit operation entirely on other
    folks' hardware and network connections. It's not much a step
    from there to using those same systems to implicate their former
    owners.

    (Am I saying that's what happened in this case? No. I'm just saying
    that it's well within the realm of possibility.)

     

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    Jason Bateman, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:24pm

    How old is the average 7th grade student?

    How old is the average 7th grade student?

    About 12 or even 13 years old?

    I am guessing that inside this class of 12-13 year old kids, not one of them has even signed on to the Internet. Not one of them has ever seen another person naked before. Not one of them has even been to Sex-Education before (Don't they teach Sex-Ed in 6th grade?). And not one of them has even been taught the "birds & the bees" from one of their parents/guardians.

    Sarcasm or exaggeration, you be the judge. 40years be the punishment.

     

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      Will Vandom, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 3:48am

      Re: How old is the average 7th grade student?

      No to all of those.

       

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      Celes, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 4:23pm

      Re: How old is the average 7th grade student?

      I had a light form of sex ed in 5th grade and a more in-depth version in 7th grade. I would find it hard to believe that 15 years later, they're actually teaching this stuff at an *older* age.

       

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      james, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 4:38pm

      Re: How old is the average 7th grade student?

      how naive can you be. kids these days are losing their VIRGINITY in 7th grade

       

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    Frank, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:29pm

    Anyone who, like myself, has ever intentionally sent a coworker a link to an innocent looking URL which caused their screen to explode with pop-up porn pictures accompanied by a loud voice from the speakers yelling "HEY EVERYBODY, I"M LOOKING AT GAY PORNO"...can somewhat empathize with this teacher. She may be telling the truth, and a competant investigation of the offending computer by the right PC security experts should be able to get at the real story.

     

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    Ron, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    I like the fact that it was a women....Nice to know they enjoy porn. So...why has the schools IT dept not added a sniffer to stop porn???

     

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    an anonymous coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:38pm

    ummm... no

    I'm 15 and when I was in 7th grade the only kid who hadn't looked at porn was the super-short nerdy kid who now regularly takes testosterone injections to fix his hormonal imbalance. (he's still short... looks like he's 8)

    one kid in my class (this is still 7th grade, mind you) got in trouble for storing 300 megs of porn videos on his server folder. He got caught when a teacher was looking for a powerpoint project and accidently opened his folder, in thumbnail view. Oh, and it was on a smartboard so the entire class saw. They were chanting "OPEN IT! OPEN IT!"

    of course i was at a private school where the cut off date makes everyone 6 months older then 7th graders in the rest of the world, and we all had laptops..... heh...

     

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    Reverend Davidius, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:45pm

    Sex Ed

    I had sex ed in 4th grade

     

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    typical, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:04pm

    @cwg1960

    She could have killed one of the kids and spent less time in jail

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:23pm

    laughable troll story

    Fantastic troll story. The perfect combination of insanity and injustice. Let's see how it stands up...

    See, I'm not buying this. Having read the story from two or three sources it seems not only perfectly possible that she is entirely innocent, but quite likely. And that is enough to aquit her. Isn't a (felony in the USA) criminal proceeding to be settled beyond reasonable doubt? It doesn't even stand up to a balance of probablilities required for a civil case. Not by a long shot. This is a show trial in a kangaroo court filled with frothing morons.

    Where is the forensic analysis of the drive in question which should have been exhibit A in the trial? You know, the evidence that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendent intended to display the images on the screen AND for the children to see them? (notice that little matter of intent so carelessly omitted). Where is the expert testimony and the evidence of the assigned system administrator? Oh that's right...

    "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."

    Case dismissed.

    Unless the rest of the courtroom happen to also be experts who know better than the expert witness given by the defence.... any takers?

    "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."

    Bzzzt . Wrong. Any piece of code can forward or redirect a CGI request without trace. Absence of evidence is no evidence of absence. You may be "overwhelmed" by that Mr Smith, but that speaks more for your mental capacity than the weight of evidence I might suggest.

    Anyone else?

    No. Didn't think so.

    Where is the testimony of the child psychologist and of the children who were allegedly exposed to this "damaging" influence? It says the children testified, it does not say what they reported other than that they saw naked people? Oh my God, naked peple! Do these kids ever take a shower? Do their parents hide the bathroom mirror in case they corrupt themselves? Where is the evidence of psychological harm? Oh that's right, there is none whatsoever.

    Case dismissed.

    I agree with PhysicsGuy, if you admit this you open a can-o-worms bigger than anybody can imagine. How are pictures of naked human beings ( a most natural thing ) corrupting in any sense that pictures of peoples brains blown out and the executions shown on CNN not? I disagree with #AC4 however, 40 years is a life sentence, which she would have got for *deliberately* killing one of the kids. And maybe some snivelling little snitch still has that coming.

    I assume this was a Windows machine. Sorry MS fanboys, I'm only saying what you all know already. Everybody knows that almost every Windows machine connected to the internet is rife with malware, and if you follow this logic is therefore a clear danger to the morals of any child. The responsible thing to do would be to destroy those computers, cut the cables, pour water into it, beat it to smithereens with a chair, sabotage it in any way possible - after all you'd obviously be protecting children from a fate worse than death right?

    This line of medieval reasoning has one conclusion. Nobody is going
    to take the risk of teaching your weak little loinspawn any longer. Let them roam the streets and become crack addicts, at least they wont be exposed to corruption. They might even get a clue about life, something that is never going to happen while they stay in the education system in the USA.

    The case will be thrown out on appeal. How much time and money has been wasted on it so far?

    Perfect troll story Karl, well spotted. Now bring on the whiners.

     

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    Mr Schotz, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:30pm

    must have been some good porn, anyone know what site she was on?

     

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    George, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:39pm

    Haha!

    I love it when teachers get in trouble. They act all untouchable until they get busted with some major stuff. Ahhh good times. Hope she does get 40 years, and I'm allowed to go laugh at her in her cage.

     

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    Bob, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:44pm

    She shouldnt have been surfing a hair styling site either on School time. Taxes pay her salary and we pay them to get good educations NOT to surf the internet at work. She deserves every day of this sentence!!!

     

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      Scottitude, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:02pm

      Re:

      That's a little rough, Bob; forty years in prison for wasting taxpayers' money by surfing the Internet? How many years does Bush get? Congress? For them it's a good idea; for a substitute teacher that for all we know was teaching home-ec or something, it's ridiculous.

       

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      bastardfish, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:33am

      Re: bob's oh so eloquent comments

      bob, are you completely devoid of intelligence or did you forget to take your pills today? you honestly believe that sending a person to prison for 40 years is justifiable because she took a few moments to look up hair styles? are you daft? i suppose you've never taken a few minutes to do something non work related at work have you? yea, right. get off of your damned pedestal.

      this whole thing is absurd. if this woman does any jail time it's a complete miscarriage of justice. this judge should be ashamed of themselves.

       

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    LukeD, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:52pm

    Forty year? No way! She probably shouldn't be able to teach children, but jail? What's wrong with this country!?!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:07pm

    Wow, I thin k George is probably 12 years old and hates school. Most likely because he is far to intelligent for school and knows enough.

    Bob is worried about the taxes that paid her salary while she surfed the web yet I bet he is a burning liberal who thinks taxes need to be raised. (this is just a guess based on the fact that 90% of the people who post here are left wingers)

    The truth is, our society is bothered too much by nudity and sex. That said I don;t mind my kids seeing people shot on TV or in a movie. It isn't real and it isn't the same as real life. However, I can't tell if the fake sex on some soaps is real or not. And showing fake love scenes in movies does nothing for plot or story content. I know, I am old enough to remember movies where sex scenes were obviously not real and it did not take away from the movie/TV show.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:26pm

      Re:

      Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the US the single biggest producer of pornographic content in the world?

       

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      cons are bootlickers, Mar 18th, 2007 @ 10:23am

      Re:

      """ummm... no by an anonymous coward on Jan 11th, 2007 @ 3:38pm

      I'm 15 and when I was in 7th grade""" ...


      Bob is worried about the taxes that paid her salary while she surfed the web yet I bet he is a burning liberal who thinks taxes need to be raised. (this is just a guess based on the fact that 90% of the people who post here are left wingers)

      you have got to be a bootlicking cabinboy for the GOP(gay old party) to spout all the vitrol and lies you babble here.

       

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    PhysicsGuy, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re:

    and porn industry insiders are saying they're going with the HD-DVD format... say goodbye blu-ray (a little off topic but hey...)

     

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    Urza9814, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:51pm

    Hmm...

    If 'imparing the morals of a child' is a crime...does that mean I can have my older brother arrested and get him 40 years too?
    If so...sweet. :) hah

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:56pm

    That would be brazil...

     

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    Meotwister, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 5:59pm

    lets look at the other side for a change

    misanthropic humanist you seemed to have chosen a side before you read the story and used the info to get the result you wanted.

    I say this because:

    one, they dont have to prove she deliberately displayed the porn to where the children could see if the monitor was in plain view to most of the class anyway. And why was she on this unfamiliar hairstyling site anyway? link hopping around to shifty sites? hmm... I never saw if it said anywhere were in this specific case that upon arriving at this horrible site it autodirects you to a porn loop, without any user action... its possible but did it happen here?

    two, when they talk about impairing morals or damaging to the child, its not something so apparent like if they survive some catastrophic event where the child goes into shock or becomes mute etc. This is something that can affect a child years down the road. They're talking about their perceptions of sex and how they get distorted by seeing these things... and not just naked people standing there like you seem to think.. usually they're doing stuff to each other.. if when you look in the mirror you see devices crammed up every orifice then yes.. by all means cover that mirror up.. O_o some of those sights can definitely change childrens perspective. they definitely all dont show natural human things. Oh and.. did she make an effort to shield the images from the children? hmm....

    oh and thats completely ridiculous to wipe the drive every time you get some kind of computer affliction. virus removal works most of the time for me.. i've wiped only as a last resort. Though admittedly only a problem MS users face. ah well.

    That is ridiculous she's getting 40yrs though... much too high for the crime. I'd go down to like... 2-5yrs.. just on a quick thought about it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:34pm

      Re: lets look at the other side for a change

      Some of you Americans are completely barmy. You truly believe someone who shows porn to children should go to prison for 2-5 years? Seriously?

      I just don't know what to say to that. What good would it do to send this woman to prison for 5 years? Are you insane?

       

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      misanthropic humanist, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:59pm

      Re: lets look at the other side for a change

      "misanthropic humanist you seemed to have chosen a side before you read the story and used the info to get the result you wanted."

      Hey Meotwister, Thankyou for chosing me to defend this instead of any of the other 20+ commentators who proclaim the same opinions, but
      you know me, always ready to right wrongs, defend the innocent, leap tall building with a single bound....

      Did I read the story before responding? Yes. It was on the wire since 16:00 GMT and as I said I picked it up from two sources.

      Did I use the information to make my arguments? Yes, that is generally how one goes about these things.

      Did I have an a priori opinion on the moral issues raised? Damn right I did.

      Did I have an a priori opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused? Of course not.


      "they dont have to prove she deliberately displayed the porn to where the children could see if the monitor was in plain view to most of the class anyway"

      I disagree. That needs to be taken into account. I think "deliberately" is not the relevant word. The question is "Did she have a reasonable expectation that the children would see the content and did she take any measures to prevent the children seeing said material once the situation presented itself?" Where was the monitor located with respect to the classroom? Was she in the same room? We do not know any of these things. If she had shouted "Hey kids come and look at the wang on this!" then I suggest that would be quite a different matter.

      And why was she on this unfamiliar hairstyling site anyway? link hopping around to shifty sites?

      Whoah! Objection! We are discussing a case involving a person facing a possible 40 year sentence and you are dwelling on hairdressing sites and making insinuations about intent.

      "hmm... I never saw if it said anywhere were in this specific case that upon arriving at this horrible site it autodirects you to a porn loop, without any user action... its possible but did it happen here?"

      Bingo! And that my friend is the question. Without any user action Action that a reasonable person would expect to result in the display of offensive images no less. It is not necessary that the site she was visiting made the redirect. Any agent could have made the redirect. The instigator may have been a virus, trojan, remotely executed command, timed process. Furthermore, it is not necessary that any of those potential instigating agents would leave any evidence on the client machine. Did it happen here? I believe the proposition is unfalsifiable and must therefore be dismissed.

      two, when they talk about impairing morals or damaging to the child, its not something so apparent like if they survive some catastrophic event where the child goes into shock or becomes mute etc. This is something that can affect a child years down the road.

      Interesting points. However you use the term "child" rather loosely. These are 12-14 year olds am I correct? They are well outside the formative years where exposure to sexual material would be traumatising. You are also comparing life changing trauma such as that occuring in a natural disaster to briefly seeing an image. I submit you are comparing apples to oranges. If they were 4-5 year olds I would hear your position with more sympathy, but where do you propose to draw the line? Only yesterday I witnessed a dozen animated flying penises attacking a woman in broad daylight, linked from this very site no less. I have trouble sleeping at night. Do you think I should sue Techdirt?

      They're talking about their perceptions of sex and how they get distorted by seeing these things... and not just naked people standing there like you seem to think.. usually they're doing stuff to each other..

      Objection! Speculation. Usually? Have you seen the images that were allegedly displayed in this incident?

      "if when you look in the mirror you see devices crammed up every orifice then yes.."

      How did you... er... Objection withdrawn. I have no further comments to make.

       

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      Ritalin, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 10:07am

      Re: lets look at the other side for a change

      Well it looks as though you have taken the bait hook line and sinker. There are far worse things to worry about shaping your children's minds. Seeing a pornographic image at PUBERTY of all ages is not some mind altering experience. I don't care if the image was of some woman screwing a donkey it does not lead to strange obsessions, which is what most modern psychology would have us believe. Common since should tell you that.

      There ARE two major things that WILL effect a teens perception of sex. The first and most important is a lack of parental guidance. God forbid that the parent should have to explain the birds and the bees to their child. I can tell you for sure that a teen will hear far more misleading things concerning sex from their peers then they will ever learn from a porn. The second reason for an alteration in sexual perception is actually brought on by those who tell the child/teen after the fact that they may in fact BE damaged from viewing said material. When in truth there is NO solid evidence of this. Take a single sociology class and maybe just maybe some of the BS you are fed on a daily basis wont corrupt YOUR morals.

      The "Save our children" argument has become so politically motivated that any lawyer or politician with a soapbox to stand on just cant seem to help themselves.

      It is sad to see that the common since on this subject has become so easily impaired and that acting on this common since is now out of the question for fear of reprisal from ill informed mob-rule.

       

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      al, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 7:42am

      Re: lets look at the other side for a change

      as did you!

       

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    PhysicsGuy, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:13pm

    Re: lets look at the other side for a change

    This is something that can affect a child years down the road. They're talking about their perceptions of sex and how they get distorted by seeing these things...

    please cite your references... :P

     

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    Jackie, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:24pm

    Happened in my school - with a video

    A similar situation happened at the school where I was a teacher's assistant. We taught boys 12-18 y.o. who had been convicted of violent felonies, including murder and armed robbery.



    The new teacher had taped a documentary off cable TV for the students, but he used a videotape that he'd taped home porn on before, gay male porn. When the documentary was over, the action switched to the teacher and several other men. The kids thought it was hilarious.



    When the teacher heard the kids laughing, he turned off the TV, took the tape with him, and immediately went to the principal's office and resigned. I'm glad it ended right there. He didn't deserve to go to jail for what was an absolutely stupid and innocent mistake.

     

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    knome, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:34pm

    They're just ( 15 year old ) babies! Oh NOES!

    To be on topic, this punishment is ridiculous. Forty years is outrageous even if she did it on purpose regardless of the content. The kids will deal. Hell these aren't even kids, they're teenagers teetering at the edge of being young adults. As it has been said, this isn't likely to be the first time they've seen any of this.

    To "Meotwister". Wiping and reinstalling the system is the only way to be sure if you need any guarantee of security. Your nonchalance given the issue indicates that you likely do not work in the field nor spend your time studying what this kind of software is capable of. Wiping is the only way to be sure. You can be "pretty" sure or "mostly" sure just using removal software, but you cannot know. There are too many vectors of attack, to easily concealed. And in any secure environment you need to "know", and the security charged administrators will wipe a box with any signs of infection. To be sure the infection is gone.

     

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    Steve, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:45pm

    It can happen.

    I sat in watched with glee/horror as the superintendent of schools was demonstrating something on the Net for the school board back in the day and he typed www.whitehouse.com instead of www.whitehouse.gov. It's absolutely amazing how women's naked breasts look so much better projected up on a 9 foot screen dangling over the heads of the shocked board members as opposed to a 19 inch monitor or some such.

    No kidding, I was a first year teacher and it really did happen. His loud, "Well, Sh*t!" was also a masterstroke. I thought I would hemorrhage before myself and about 20 other people burst out in hysterical laughter.

    A net filtering company called B.E.S.S. was contacted and their appliance installed within a week's time. To hell with shocking kids with titties, wait till the Superintendent gets ambushed!

    Yes, she may have been surfing porn, but there is a decent chance she got punked by some spyware - or at least pop-ups some site was using to generate some income.

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 6:58pm

    Response to Meotwister on wiping the drive

    In re:

    "oh and thats completely ridiculous to wipe the drive every time you get some kind of computer affliction. virus removal works most of the time for me.. i've wiped only as a last resort. Though admittedly only a problem MS users face."

    First, while it's mostly a MS problem it's not entirely an MS
    problem, and could of course happen to anyone using any OS.
    (I'm partial to OpenBSD myself, and it has a pretty good track
    record. But there's always tomorrow, as some of us learned
    November 3, 1988.)

    Second, you just flunked computer security 101, where one of
    the principles you learn is that once a system is compromised,
    you can't trust anything it does. (Which is why, by the way,
    running even a virus *checker*, let alone a supposed virus remover,
    on a possibly-compromised system is a bad idea.)

    The only way to examine such a system with any degree of
    confidence that you can trust the results is to (a) boot it from
    known-clean media and (b) run the virus/spyware/etc. scanner
    while thus booted.

    And while it _might_, and I strongly emphrase, MIGHT, have
    been true that once upon a time it was possible for someone with
    expert skills to remove a contagion found this way without blowing
    away the entire system...those days are long gone. The kind of
    code that's being sent out now digs in so deeply, in so many places,
    goes to such lengths to hide itself, that even the people who are
    flat-out experts in this area struggle with it.

    For one example of this (out of a large and growing number), see:

    http://cwshredder.net/cwshredder/cwschronicles.html

    Which is why I say that wiping and starting over is the only sure
    way out.

    And also why keeping (a) known-good media (b) appropriate
    tools and (c) backups -- which by the way, also have to be checked
    to avoid re-introducing the problem -- around is a darn good idea.

     

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    Aaron, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 7:02pm

    "...after being found guilty on four counts of impairing the morals of a child."

    If you're going to punish her for this, fine, but I expect to see every actress, musician, and talentless slut (redundant, I know) of the last decade thrown in with her.

    And while you're about it, toss in every preacher, theologian, and shaman still breathing... they've done more damage to our children's "morals" than any pantyless tramp in stiletto heels, or any teacher who shows them pixelated pictures of human skin.

     

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    NightOwl, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 7:11pm

    Yeah. I don't know if there seems to be any real evidence here. Is there a "morals" commitee here? Who decides what's moral. What has defined morals in the US has, throughout our history, been religion (specifically Christianity), which seems strange in a era where religion is wholesalely rejected as "separated from the state" (which isn't in the constitution, by the way). This is even shown in some of the comments here already, that people usually reject Christianity, yet somehow expect to maintain "morals".

     

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      Ritalin, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      "This is even shown in some of the comments here already, that people usually reject Christianity, yet somehow expect to maintain "morals"."

      Is this to say that any person, group, country or religion that does not support or believe in Christianity is incapable of having morals. I would then put forth the argument that humbleness (one of the important morals) is no longer an important part of your religion.

      Go to collage a proper education is not the devil. I promise you.

      By the by, the separation of church and state IS in fact the reason that our founders left England and why the US is a country today. Would such an important facet to the creation of our country really be left out of the document that defines us as a people?

      I suggest that you stop listening to those nutty satellite TV Evangelists.

       

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 7:47pm

    the moral of the story

    Night Owl: "Who decides what's moral(?)"

    You do.

    Can you handle the responsibility?

    That is the difference between legality and morality. The law can tell you how you must behave to be accepted in a society, but it has no place prescribing what you may think or judge as right and wrong. Or would you rather have your private thoughts and behaviours dictated by some nanny-state socialist who thinks an imaginary man in the sky who only speaks to them should have the last word on it?


    "...that people usually reject Christianity, yet somehow expect to maintain "morals"."

    Religion is not the definition of morality. Religion attempts to prescribe morality. In some case it does a very good job, for example where it basically says "treat others as you would would want them to treat you". In other respects it totally fails, such as where it says "Any woman who touches a man without his permission should have her throat cut". I highly recommend you study morality/ethics in the context of such thinkers as Plato, Spinoza, Bentham etc.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 10:42pm

    Lack of information.

    This is absolutly baffling to anyone that has dealt with internet security. The teacher is completely not at fault for anything except browsing non-intranet websites during office hours.

    Thats it. Nothing more. If you disagree, it could very well be you that is on trial for the same thing while browsing sites for your church group during the most innocent activity in the world (fill in the blank for anywhere you might be that would get you in trouble if a porn/violence/whatever site went into an endless loop of popups, displaying horrible things in front of innodcent minds). What folks don't understand is that programs get installed on your computer and will lay dormant until some pre-determined event (like a 2pm on a tuesday, or when you type the word "sporting" into you're web browser address bar). Some could change the hosts file (most of the time a practicle joke, but sometimes done by viruses to steal you're credit info or obtain you're kids myspace password, etc) to point you're web browser to a website containing kiddie porn if yo utype in a bank's address. completely unrelated, but i've seen it happen (oh yeah, I've worked in internet security, abuse departments, web design companies, ISP's....).

    People don't inderstand the things that are possible, and that happen. Period. Let me ask you this: how long would it take you to open a terminal and enter the process id into a kill command, or even in the simplest form: open the task manager while 10 yr old naked boys were popping up all over your screen for a reason you couldn't figure out? If you had to think about what i just said for more then 2 seconds, BANG. You're in jail for the next fourty years for something that you don't understand. How does it feel? Now you're part of the porn.

    Look, if someone had a video tape that they played during a reccess rain break for 10 year olds, thats one thing, and I think it should be punished. But if anyone is at fault at all here and should be prosecuted it should be the makers of the OS/browser whose neglegence in coding lead to the incident.

    This is not a debate. If you know what an exploit is capable of, this is a stupid issue for you. If not, let this be a wake up call for what could, and probably will happen to you at some point. Do not dissagree with me, just listen and learn. It is a simple issue.

     

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    Avatar28, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 11:41pm

    spyware

    I deal with it on an almost daily basis. From the article it seems likely that the teacher went to the hairstyling website and that installed spyware via a drive-by download. You know, you go to a website and it's just "Here ya go. A great big bundle of spyware. No license agreement or pesky yes/no popups to agree to, we'll give it to you anyways."

    Remember those? Yeah, they still happen. Not as much thanks to security patches, but at the time this event probably occurred they would have been more common. Truthfully, I have to blame the school's system administrators. Certainly they share the blame. For one, there was no filtering software installed at the proxy. For a school, I find this an inexcusable lapse. For another from the description it seems likely it was a drive by download (see above). Many of the flaws exploited by those were patched in various security updates from MS. Anyone want to be the school wasn't keep up on their updates? I know I've had to clean the crap out of the student computers in my mother's classroom at school. The system was woefully behind on updates. Put it this way, the system got infected with one of the MSBlast type variants a good year or two after that virus first came out. If the computer wasn't patched, that further takes the fault off the teacher.

     

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    PhysicsGuy, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 1:55am

    Re: Re: lets look at the other side for a change

    "Only yesterday I witnessed a dozen animated flying penises attacking a woman in broad daylight"

    and i still get a chuckle thinking about that... i do prefer the picture of Anshe Chung in the hard hat holding the giant cock, something about the hard hat... i dunno...

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 4:08am

    How many years did the judge get?

    This is madness and showcases beautifully the judicial systems inability to deal with technological cases requiring knowledge not immediately available to them

    I would be worried (if I lived in the US) if this is representative of a lot of other types of cases (complex fraud for example) which also require a detailed knowledge to understand

    I do security (end user security) its my job and yes MS systems are the most consistently compromised systems on the market - whether that is due to numbers, inherent flaws or whatever I’ll leave to others to decide but personally for all its flaws I still like XP

    Any system that is infected with anything more serious than a bog standard worm should be rebuilt - sorry it’s true. The amount of times I have seen machines that support have spent hours on removing infections become reinfected a few days later is... well its a lot ;0)

    The problem lies not just in removing hidden malware but in any little changes it may have made to your machine to make it more vulnerable - your virus checker doesn't usually spot these

    Admittedly its not always possible to rebuild every time due to manpower but I try to get my teams to work on a two strike basis as a minimum - 2nd infection and its rebuilt every time

    I've seen so many bots that can do exactly what is mentioned - surf themselves etc its not funny, most of the time they do this it's not even to attract you to the sites but to earn the creator pay-per-click revenue

    One of my friends got into severe trouble last year when his girlfriend went into his history and found some NASTY porn sites in there but he'd never even seen a pop-up. Turns out he'd managed to get a worm which was opening internet sites quietly in the background, and it wasn't until I showed her the times of the access and that he'd apparently been surfing for hot goat action while they were both at our house having a barbecue that she finally put the frying pan down ;0)

    As for surfing for hairdressing - it’s not a crime surely? And how many sites thrive on misspellings to get bisiness?

    So yes unless there is more hidden evidence lots of room for reasonable doubt

    As for the comment "State Prosecutor David Smith said he wondered why Julie Amero didn't just pull the plug on her classroom computer" - come on be honest if it was you would you not be tempted to try to close down all the windows quickly and delete the history and keep quiet in case anyone thought you'd done it deliberately? Lots of people do and if I thought they were handing out 40 year penalties I'd probably panic myself!

    Either way - 40 years (anything above community service actually) is ridiculous and the type of reactionary sentencing I would expect from a military junta not a major super power

    The judge needs locking up not the teacher – rant over ;0)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 5:29am

    Ok, this is nutso. I am the Network Admin at a school. I run extensive content filtering. And, I try to keep all machines up-to-date with appropriate security patchest etc. Even still, a teacher the other day was hit by a browser exploit while searching for a coloring sheet for her class that resulted in porn popups etc. I keep a server side log of all browsing history and of course I made sure that this was nothing more than an innocent mistake. After fixing the problem, I quickly deployed Firefox to all computers and hid access to IE. But, my point is, that these things can and do happen innocently.

    I also remember a time when my former boss and I were having a conversasion about some sports stuff and we wondered how much it cost. So, she said, "Let me check Dick's Sporting Goods" and turned around and typed in www.dicks.com which, trust me, is NOT the sporting goods store. Her first response was not the unplug the computer but was to try to kill the windows that were hatching like flies.

    Oh, and, as others have mentioned, EVEN IF she was surfing porn, 40 years is WAY overkill. She could screw a student and spend less time behind bars than that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 9:28am

    ianal, but i must throw in my thoughts.

    possible accident, true. did the defense prove doubt in the case? that's all the defense needs to do. plant a reasonable doubt. it is up the prosocution to prove the crime was commited. maybe the lawyers didn't take it seriously or anything. all the def had to do was get a shrink to evalute the kids that were "harmed" to prove they didn't suffer any moral damage.

    that being said, a friend was on jury duity where the prosocution failed to prove their case. a few more questions. woulda won the case, the jury concluded that with the evidance given, there was no crime. but they also FELT the guy was guilty, but had no legal reason to convict.

    moving on. yes, 40 years is a strict sentence. yes it's true she woulda served less time if she actually had sex with the kids. and it's possible she woulda served less time if she killed one as well. this must say something about our society.

    onething people fail to note is the teacher is a substitue. a SUB. from what i can tell, you only need 2 years of college cretids to subin most schools (at least in my area). and from my many expirences in the us public school system, almost 75% of subs just hand out busy work for the kids because they don't know how to teach the subject. (7th grade was when different teachers for different classes started) and even in lower grades where we had 1 teacher, the sub would just hand out most worksheets, or just read from a book. but that's a "flaw" of the system.

    i didn't read the article, but i must say, was this like on a projector? did the kids gather around the screen? did they come up to ask a question? it seems the "FTC" (for the children) clause can be used for anything. i hope this gets appealed due to constitutional carelessness. i'd be funny to see how this turns out

     

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      Celes, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 4:42pm

      Re:

      Off-topic... You had subs who handed out work?? Most of mine just sat us in front of a TV to watch a movie until the bell rang...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    OK, so how long is that stretch inside going to cost the American taxpayer? We live in the richest country in the world and people are dying because they can't pay for the medical care they need yet federal/state authorities are happy to pay thousand of dollars to keep this woman in prison for showing some teenagers what all but the most sheltered of them know all about already. If that is not madness I don't know what ois!

    Btw, did the prosecutor give any particular reason why this lady decided to do her porn surfing in front of a class? It all seems a little far fetched to me.

     

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    Bethanee, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    Affected morals of children

    I'm sorry but I don't get the excessive sentence for this. We have people who have actively and habitually molested children who are popped back out onto the streets with no more than a slap on the wrist and a house arrest braclet that they easily slip off or use the excuse of going to work and are found yet again predating on children. I will never understand those light sentences either. They act as though abusing a child in that manner is less than what murderers do, but I say this. EVERY time a child is touched that way you kill their spirit, and you kill their innocence and to me that is WORSE than murder.
    Now with the latest level of teachers abusing children I can see where they may be wanting to make an example out of this woman, but come on, even if she was stupid enough to surf for porn in front of these kids, how many of them are now corrupted and will lead lives that are truly affected. And how many of them have already seen about as much porn as they can get their hot little hands on since most of them probably have computers at home? All you have to do is google an innocuous word and go to the images, I guarantee you there will be at least 1 inappropriate picture for underage kids to see. Please... Let's start worrying about bigger things than this please.

     

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    Dwight Schrute, Jan 13th, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Give her a pass on this one

    Firstly; where was the content filter for the school?
    Secondly; Those porn loops can happen without someone overtly surfing for porn.
    Thirdly; WTF kind of sentence is this....?

     

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    Joe Momma, Jan 14th, 2007 @ 11:47am

    So what if she did?

    What's the big deal?

     

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    cliché guevara, Jan 17th, 2007 @ 12:44am

    Please tell me that this is some kind of sick joke

    I'm starting to wonder if this is a hoax or if the duration of the sentence is a typo, it sounds a little bit too far-fetched to be true. Anyone know about the actual law in question and precedents that had been established for cases like this?

    Also, if I were her I'd be busting the administration for letting the filters expire, and in turn for violating the Child Internet Protection Act. This would make them ineligible for federal funding for telecommunications/ computers/ etc.

    But honestly, was the jury braindead? Was her defense lawyer completely out in left field? Or was it just the judge? Or both? I think that judge needs to be investigated, and if a history of shit decisions emerges, needs be taken down. This is really, really ridiculous.

    She'd better appeal.

     

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    Keyser Solse, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:55pm

    Facts

    Facts. If you want them email me.

    Keyser

     

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    Bri, Jan 24th, 2007 @ 3:49am

    Only in the US..

    What kind of idiot would even take this case to the court! I would suspect that less than 5% of the population would know how to protect theirr computer from pop-up windows. If the fault would be somebody's own, maybe the city hall's for not buying valid licenses for the computers. Not for flashing some adult sites by accident. The children will see some kind of adult entertainment anyway on TV, store windows and especially in internet.

     

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    Peanutcat, Jan 28th, 2007 @ 6:49am

    Yes, it DOES happen!

    If a computer doesn't have sufficent adware protection, you can get caught in a porn site loop. I've had that happen to me several time on computers that didn't have proper protection, and I'd go to one innocent site and BAM!, hundreds of porn pop-ups would, heh, pop-up. I'd have to shut the comp down and restart to get rid of the crap. I'm glad to say that now those paticular computers now have good adware and virus protection.

     

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    Justin Shafer, Jan 28th, 2007 @ 10:27am

    If the Admins in the school district had a decent proxy server with a list of aloud sites like MANY other school districts do... then this would NOT of happened.

    SMF's

     

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    Michael, Jan 28th, 2007 @ 11:56am

    Innocent until proven guilty

    I think the judge that convicts this person should go to jail and be sued, until they have proper evidence that this woman was purpously looking at the poor then there shouldnt even be a case, the most that should happen in a case like this is the teachter should be lightly monitored for a limited period of time by some authority, but thats the MOST that should EVER happen in a case like this, if at all. But the small minded judge (evidently totally igonorant to computers) wants to sentence a teacher to 40 years in prison for something the computer itself could of done, such as a script or a virus or a trojan or most of all SPYWARE, lets face it folks the computer has the capabiltiy to do things without your action due to malicious codes that are loaded onto your computer just by surfing the internet, or perhaps a hacker could of planted the codes or software there, take it from me the computer has the capability to pop up unwanted pages without your consent, this teacher innocent until proven quilty, how do you know that someone else didnt put this stuff on here computer. This kinda stuff has happened to me just by simply surfing the internet and i know good and well that i didnt put anything on my computer to make porn pop up.

     

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    Michael, Jan 28th, 2007 @ 12:02pm

    Innocent until proven guilty

    I think the judge that convicts this person should go to jail and be sued, until they have proper evidence that this woman was purpously looking at the poon then there shouldnt even be a case, the most that should happen in a case like this is the teacher should be lightly monitored for a limited period of time by some authority, but thats the MOST that should EVER happen in a case like this, if at all. But the small minded judge (evidently totally igonorant to computers) wants to sentence a teacher to 40 years in prison for something the computer itself could of done, such as a script or a virus or a trojan or most of all SPYWARE, lets face it folks the computer has the capabiltiy to do things without your action due to malicious codes that are loaded onto your computer just by surfing the internet, or perhaps a hacker could of planted the codes or software there, take it from me the computer has the capability to pop up unwanted pages without your consent, this teacher innocent until proven quilty, how do you know that someone else didnt put this stuff on here computer. This kinda stuff has happened to me just by simply surfing the internet and i know good and well that i didnt put anything on my computer to make porn pop up.

     

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    Anonymous, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 11:30am

    WHY MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL OVER PORNOGRAPHY!!???

    40 YEARS!!? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE *U**ING
    $#I&ING ME!!! *Sigh

    I don't see why she should even be punished for such an event. They didn't see pictures of people getting their heads blown off or instructions on how to snap someone's neck,so why get so riled up over this. I see no harm in showing a pre-teen pornography, and it isn't as if they were harmed in any way.

    It may have been hard-core type pornography,but sex is a fact of life,it is violence that is unneccessary,so why punish her especially to the point it is portrayed as to be worse than stabbing someone?

    If she was to stab or brutally injure another person instead of showing pornography to pre-teens,she wouldn't have gotten in so much trouble.

    Those pre-teens were not harmed in any way.
    (maybe unless they were tought to be)

    The teacher is not a criminal or a pervert,
    (Even if she likes hardcore pornography)
    but she is a victim of a screwed up justice system that lets clowns like OJ simpson get away.
    ("If I did it" OJ Simpson? It should really be called
    "If I didn't do it,and said I did because I wish I've done it,but I've somehow got her blood on my clothes.")

     

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    Lidstrom, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 4:23am

    Ignorance

    It amazes me, in 2007, that people are so ignorant of technology. This is why the writers and purveyors of adware, viruses, and even phishing scams continue to have great success. It is because people like the author of this piece, as well as many of the responders, don't understand technology and how it works. If this woman could have afforded quality defense, she never gets convicted. Unfortunately, it was a terrible combination of poor defense and ignorance across the rest of the board. This is the sort of justice that a lot of people in this country get, though. The kind of thing that happens when there aren't any cameras around and the press aren't interested. Justice goes to those who can afford it, not to those who deserve it.

    I pity the victims of real computer crime in that area, because the claims made by the computer crime unit of the police there are pitiful and have no basis in reality. They should hire someone who has actually worked in technology instead of taking cops off of something else and assigning them to computer crime as if it is as easy to understand as "drugs are bad."

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 5:51am

    UPDATE: Security Pro's helping her to appeal

    Sunbel software and other security specialists are helping compile an appeal case for the teacher involved

    http://www.theregister.com/2007/02/04/teacher_conviction/

    Some interesting facts that I couldn't find in the original posts

    1) The PC involved was running Windows 98 SE
    2) The PC was running IE5
    3) The PC was running a very out of date virus checker
    4) The teacher had been TOLD not to turn off or log off the machine, since as she was a teaching sub someone else would have had to log it back on for her as she did not have a log on
    5) The evidence from the defense security experts was deemed unadmissable as the prosecution argued there had not been full disclosure

    it goes on...

    Basically the judge should be sent down, as should the prosecutor, as should the investigator, as should the schools IT dept... the one person who should clearly not be serving any time is the teacher. I hope that after more sensible head prevail she is released to sue the hell out of them

    On another note - the middle school where this occured now states that they have "installed security software and a filtering system". Unless they have also upgraded their OS this means little - any school running Win98 and allowing access to the internet by children from such a system is negligent in my opinion. So if your kid goes to Kelly Middle School you should be contacting your school governors (if not outright assaulting them for lack of due care)

     

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    michael, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 12:29am

    just have to laugh.
    this is a typical case for the shape the u.s. is in.
    if this was to happen here in germany or france, students, teacher and parents would laugh it off, and that's all that there is to it.
    pop ups in 2004 where as common as rain falling down.
    just recently have browsers been enabled to block popups.
    sorry for the teacher,sorry for the students and sorry for a redcioulos justice system like in the u.s..
    it is getting worse by the day.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2008 @ 1:36pm

    Is this a sick joke? She could have killed and raped her whole classroom and probably have gotten less time. What the fuck is wrong with the world right now.

     

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