Julie Amero Sentencing Delayed Again; Prosecutors May Be Trying To Figure Out How To Back Out Gracefully

from the just-admit-you-were-wrong dept

The Julie Amero case has been getting plenty of attention lately, after prosecutors (and the local press) in Connecticut condemned a local substitute teacher after the classroom computer she was using was overrun with porn popups from spyware. For this, she was facing 40 years in jail. While the local paper and the prosecutor kept insisting that everyone didn't know the full story, once the transcripts became available it became clear that it was the prosecutors, the local police and the local press who didn't seem to recognize the full story. While the local Norwich Bulletin continues to insist she deserves to be thrown in jail (update: they no longer support jailing Amero, but still get twisted about trying to explain how she's guilty of something), it sounds like the prosecutors on the case may be recognizing that they were wrong. The sentencing has been delayed for another month, and the suggestion is that its the prosecution that's looking for a way to get out of this mess cleanly without looking too bad. In the meantime, the Hartford Courant put together a good article summarizing the details of the case that make it clear this whole thing was something of a witch hunt.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 12:09pm

    Ooh

    Thanks for that link to the Courant article. I've been looking for something that actually did a good job explaining the situation.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Norwich Bulletin editoral: deserves no jail, but s

    Actually, the Norwich Bulletin editorial says she should not serve jail time
    but she should not to teach again.

    The reason is that she wasn't smart enough to shut off the machine or cover
    the screen with the graphic pop-ups.

    This is the reason why they think a conviction with community service is fair
    ...for failing to protect the children in her trust.

    They also did mention that the school district deserive some the blame, and
    that "Whoever did not do their job to ensure the proper (malware protection)
    fees were paid and the licensing was up-to-date deserves to be fired."

     

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  3.  
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    Dave Barnes, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 1:08pm

    If she is a witch

    then they could consider:
    1. dunking
    2. burning at the stake
    Both are traditional remedies.

     

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  4.  
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    Casper, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    Stupidity

    How about we require teachers to know current technology? Is that really asking so much? They are, after all, teaching the next generation.

    I hate the fact teachers act like learning has an end point. Since they got their degree they don't need to keep up with modern technology. I see that as a failure to do their job as in educator.

     

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  5.  
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    Casper, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 1:18pm

    Re: If she is a witch

    then she will weight the same as a duck!

     

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  6.  
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    dorpass, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Stupidity

    Amazing idea Casper. How about you at least make sure that they can at least pass the credential exams on the first try? Get real.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: If she is a witch

    It's a fair cop.

     

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  8.  
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    Dewy, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Net Admin

    Net Admin bears 50% of the guilt here... that machine shouldn't have been online to start with.

    She gets 20% of the guilt for being too uninformed to know the difference between turning off the computer... and turning off the MONITOR! For those of you who don't know this fact... you can turn off the speakers and monitor independently of the computer... I know., I know... would require effort, but its a temp fix.

    Then I'd say lets tar and feather the zealots who drug her up on these pointless charges. She obviously shouldn't be teaching... but how is turning her over to the state to support going to help?!

     

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  9.  
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    Extreme Centrist, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Stupidity

    Casper- Your comment is as insensitive as it is stupid. She had no responsibility for that computer. It wasn't part of the lesson plan. She wasn't the one operating it when it started showing porn. The school is 100% responsible before, during, and after the fact. They should have maintained the computer properly; their failure to do so is tremendously negligent. Why was the computer on in the first place? The regular teach should have known enough to turn it off when it was not in use, especially with a sub coming in. Why did no one go to the classroom to see what was wrong? Because she was too upset to explain the problem clearly? That's the part I don't get. Why didn't the principal investigate, and then stand up and take the blame for the situation. Anyone could tell Ms. Amero had done nothing wrong. What a coward.
    As for you, what if you had to face criminal prosecution for every time you have been confused or mistaken? Based on your comment, I suspect you would be spending the rest of your life in a courtroom.

     

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  10.  
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    deirdre, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Norwich Bulletin editoral: deserves no jail, b

    But the evidence is overwhelming that she didn't do enough to protect her students from the flith. If she had been truly concerned over the effect on her students, she would have driven the computer to Boston and left it on a street corner for the bomb squad.

     

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  11.  
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    Brad Eleven, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 3:13pm

    a *substitute* teacher

    FFS, substitute teachers aren't required to have a college degree, let alone a teaching certificate. Sure, they're not the cream of the crop by any stretch of the imagination. Surely most, if not all of you can recall the incompetence of your substitute teachers. Geez, we used to pull pranks on 'em because they were such an easy target! It's likely that one of the kids was responsible--not too likely, but not so remote as to rule it out.

    The poor woman obviously doesn't have a PC at home, and so this was probably the first time she'd ever seen Javascript-driven pop-ups. I don't know about you guys, but I was stunned and overwhelmed the first time I saw it.

    Couple that with pr0n showing up in a classroom full of kids, and then honestly tell me that you'd have had the presence of mind to do anything besides clicking the X in the upper right corner, or banging on the keyboard. Sure, she could have turned off the monitor, but that's like asking Joe Citizen to solve Three Mile Island without any training or experience as a nuclear power plant operator.

    Just don't let her be a substitute teacher any more. I'm sure she doesn't want to, anyway, after all of this bull$#!+.

     

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  12.  
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    Casper, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Stupidity

    A person who lacks the common sense to turn a computer off, or block the screen from the prying eyes of children, when it is displaying pornographic material has no business teaching a class. She did nothing wrong? She did nothing period. I am not saying that the administration staff is not at fault as well, however, they were not on site to prevent it at the moment it happened. Should she just have thrown her hands up and said "Oh well, it's not my computer" and let the children watch some porn while they waited for the principal?

    Sensitivity towards a teacher has no place when it oversteps the welfare of the child she is payed to teach. She is an adult and should be accountable for her actions as such. Her role as a teacher requires her to protect her students from harmful material, such as pornography, and she failed to do so adequately. Do I think she should be fired? No, but she should be required to take computer courses and be reprimanded.

    "As for you, what if you had to face criminal prosecution for every time you have been confused or mistaken? Based on your comment, I suspect you would be spending the rest of your life in a courtroom."

    That's funny. Since your irrational tirade ended with a direct assault on me, who you know nothing about, I would suggest you think your next posting through before you make it.

     

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  13.  
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    Dan, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    Just wrong!

    Do any of these people even have PCs? 10 yrs ago using win 98 and not knowing about anti-malware, I was inundated with this sort of thing. Given the circumstances, this happening is not only possible, but probable that she is telling the absolute truth. am horrified she was even arrested, much less tried, convicted and facing prison with murderers and baby rapers. This is true injustice!

     

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  14.  
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    Casper, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Just wrong!

    I agree that there is not need for prosecution, however, just because she is honestly ignorant does not mean she is not guilty of anything. She defiantly should not be allowed to teach again without taking some computer classes and being re-evaluated.

    If I had a child in the class it wouldn't be a huge deal. I would just take the role of a parent (it's a stretch for a lot of parents today) and explain what was going on to my child. However, I would still want that teacher removed from the school. The ineptitude proves that she does not have the capacity to protect the children in todays world and the fact that she became so flustered with such a minor issue makes me doubt her abilities in a crisis.

     

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  15.  
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    Mikecancook, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 3:40pm

    Monday Morning Quarterbacking

    Anyone saying the teacher bares responsibility for not turning off the monitor or TV has obviously never been in that situation.

    It's not like you're sitting in a public place, porn pops up and you calmly shut down the monitor.

    The first thing you do is panic and try to remember how to use the mouse. Then you try to find the "x" and close the window. How long this process goes on before you come to a conclusion you're screwed? Who knows.

    The school district should be adequately staffed to prevent this from happening. Just firing the guy probably isn't much help if it's 2 guys looking over a thousand computers in 50 schools. Anyone hear about budget cuts?

     

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  16.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 5:40pm

    Well...

    it's my understanding that she did try to keep the kids from seeing the monitor and she was specifically told not to turn the pc off.

    This is a clear cut case of computer illiteracy. And now the legal system is trying to make an example out of her. The lawyers want to look like the are doing something to "protect the children".

    Put the woman in a pc literacy course and send her back to work. Skilled teachers (or ever substitutes) are hard enough to find as it is.

    I'm just glad the parents of those kids aren't suing for child endangerment or some other bullsh!t...

     

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  17.  
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    pwils, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 5:42pm

    YOU ARE ALL WRONG.............

    Julie was 38 years old at the time this happened. The computer was logged on by the regular teacher, it is also used for class attendance throughout the day. She was told not to turn it off because there would be no one to log her back in. A couple of kids were at the computer (which was the teachers, they were not supposed to be there, one didn't even belong in the room), when she went over there and tried to click the site they were at off a porn storm began. Not having great knowledge of computers.....she tried like most people would to click on the X to close the windows, as we all know this opens more because it is reprogrammed. The monitor was also turned away from the kids at a teachers station and she made sure it was turned even more so that they could not see it, when they came up to her desk an attempted to peek at the screen she pushed one away and also blocked the screen visibly with her body. During break she tried to get help to no avail. She informed the vice principle at the end of the day. You are using hindsight now to say she should have turned the monitor/computer off. While she may have not reacted as you and I she took great steps to keep the kids protected and try to get help.
    The rest you can read in the transcripts, she is not guilty, nor is she stupid just because she is technically illiterate. Most teachers are! There are a number of experts working on this case because the are outraged about it and they are doing it along with a new hire powered attorney pro bono. The Norwich Bulletin has down a terrible job of reporting, twisting and not reporting all the facts in this case.

    When she is vindicated and she will be, the judge, jury, prosecutor, idot detective who called himself an expert armed with computercop pro and the Norwich Bulletin will have to answer for the horrible way this person was treated.

    A hope she sues everybody's butt............

    And I am from the area, so I know more than most what is going on................

     

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  18.  
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    Loserbum3, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Stupidity

    You do know that:

    1. She was under specific instructions NOT to turn off the computer

    2. The computer was already NOT facing the children.

    3. She DID cover up the monitor so no one had any chance of seeing it.

    When you think about it, she was not at fault, she did all she could do without getting fired for disobeying the administrative staff.

     

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  19.  
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    Dosquatch, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 7:29pm

    It's like this

    There is most definitely criminal action here, but it's not on the part of the substitute teacher.

    Let's start with the supposed head of technology perjuring himself - testifying that he had never even heard of such a thing as a pop-up storm? For what, then, did he suppose he was paying bills to an anti-malware vendor(s) for, hmmm?

    Oh, that's right, he quit paying the bill. OK, incompetent and/or grossly unqualified for his position might be a possibility. That still doesn't let him off the hook for perjury, though, given that his testimony was being given in the guise of an expert.

    So, too, the prosecutor for allowing this horrendously incorrect testimony.

    So, too, the police department. Same reasons.

    Amero made efforts to get help from fellow teachers. She made efforts to "protect the children". She made an effort to notify administration. The full heft of the her liability is that she is computer illiterate. The last time I checked, that is not a crime.

    Lest I forget, our legal system is based on the punishment fitting the crime. Charges would not be out of place levelled against CT's legislators for attaching such an unconscienable penalty to this law. I was exposed to such horrific material as Playboy and Hustler at the age of these children, as were my peers (where do you think we got these magazines if not from each other?) and not a one of us suffered the emotional scarring suggested by this law.

    I imagine the same is true for most people reading this as well, the prosecutor, the legislators who wrote the law, the cops who investigated, and every child who has passed through 7th grade in the 20-some years since I was that age.

    Hell, I know some of the students in my class back then were doing some of the stuff I was merely looking at in those mags. I don't have any reason to believe that things have changed all that much since.

    Do you want to know the single best thing we could do "for the children"? Turn Amero loose, and then publicly beat everyone else involved with big foam clue-bats.

     

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  20.  
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    Search Engine WEB, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 10:10pm

    OMG - the Forensics SOLUTION was SO-o-o Simple

    The whole thing is BIZARE ..because

    The forensic solution was so simple...

    Disable JavaScript (from the Tools - security menu)

    Go to the HISTORY files - get the URL of each each PopUp

    Go to each VIEW SOURCE - Look at the Javascript

    Each popup willl probably have

    BODY onClose or onUnload or Window onClose tag

    If each popup window specifies another will open if that window is closed - it could loop forever

    After finding the FIRST site that started the loop - they could have reported them to their ISP and to Google - so as to help prevent future victims

    Nowadays, civiil suits can even be launched against Websites that affect computers -


    ? ? ? ? ?
    Apparently, although both the D.A and the Police were not HTML savy - probably many of those students would have known what to do :LOL:

     

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  21.  
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    Joe Smith, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 10:43pm

    never mind the teacher

    I was going to say something witty about Conneticut being the place that used to burn witches but I got beat to it.

    So instead I will say:

    The policeman who investigated the case, the prosecutor who charged her, the judge who tried the case and the media commentators cheering her conviction are all unfit for their jobs and are a menace to public liberty and safety.

     

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  22.  
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    Wizard Prang, Mar 29th, 2007 @ 7:46am

    I agree with your points, but...

    ...the teacher bares responsibility...

    That's funny for so many reasons.

     

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  23.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 29th, 2007 @ 8:34am

    Possibly an idiot Mac user

    If her only computer experience had been on a Mac, then she may have had a legitiate reason for thinking that the monitor button turns off the computer, since if you press the power button on the back of some Macs I have used it sends them into standby (an easy thing to do by accident, forgetting that you are using a Mac and holding the bottom of the monitor to adjust its position), so she may have remembered that you pressed the button on the monitor to turn off computers.

    Not that that excuses anyone of stupidity here.

     

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  24.  
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    dude, Mar 29th, 2007 @ 9:48am

    hasn't she already been punished?

    For all the people who have lovely recommendations about how she should be punished (don't let her teach anymore, send her back to school, etc. etc.)..

    Please try to remember the woman lost her baby, for goodness sakes. I wouldn't be surprised if the stress of this whole ordeal was a large contributing factor to that. And she's spend the past TWO years dealing with this idiocy. I think she's been "punished" above and beyond anything she might have deserved for not being as perfect as all of you.

    Thanks to Techdirt for bringing this to our attention, and to all the people who left intelligent comments and reaffirmed my faith in humanity. =)

     

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  25.  
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    ogman, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Don't Forget!

    Sounds to me like they are waiting for the public to forget about this case. We should make sure that does not happen by continuing to send letters and emails to the prosecutor and the newspaper. Everyone needs to keep an eye on this, because if Norwich gets away with this it is bad for everyone.

     

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  26.  
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    malignedtruth, Apr 22nd, 2007 @ 8:02am

    Computer Crime Cop alleged Sex Crimes Dunce!

    The "Computer Crime" cop, designated because he attended FBI computer seminars, and took a telephone interview aobut ComputerCop software, was actually on desk duty due to a little incident with the Police "Party Wagon"
    in which his partner was discharged from the force, over some nude photos of a minor during a stakeout in which it is alleged by the young lady that she was plied with booze, and had sex with officer(s).

    The keys to the "Party Wagon" were removed from Detective Lounsbury and he was placed into a desk job. No major investigation, no threats of "40 years in prison" and no adjudication as a SEX OFFENDER for this detective!

    Then, there are so many judicial and prosecutorial errors in this case that it cries to be overturned on appeal!

    Judge Hilary Strackbein allegedly slept through testimony.

    Jurors allegedly discussed case during lunch at diner.

    Prosecution objected to admittance of exculpatory evidence!

    Prosecution 'expert', Det. Lounsbury, a computer dunce, with allegations of being a Sexual Predator. The facts surrounding his suspension for drinking on the job are public knowledge - he was actually escorting an underage girl on a liquor store sting and bought and consumed beer during the sting. His ex-partner was fired, alleged to have taken porn shots of the minor.

    It makes an honest citizen cringe to think that our Justice System is neither! It is a mob of crazy idiots run amok!

    Big answer is to NEVER run Microsoft, with it's "114,000 Microsoft Virus Definitions" malware, etc.

    http://pclinuxos.com or any of the 310 FREE LiveCDs at http://livecdlist.com and the hundreds of choices at http://distrowatch.com works for the SCHOOL BOARDS of 40 States!

    Makes old Pentium Class computers run upto 50X faster, totally free of malware!

    Still, the Federal CIPA demands a firewall, such as FREE http://ipcop.org and some filtering of content, like Spamassassin and Dan's Guardian (linked on site) perform so well, for FREE!!!

    It is so easy that California has switched!

     

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  27.  
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    ruro, May 9th, 2007 @ 2:07pm

    Scary stuff

    I cannot believe some of the entries I read here. Some of you think she didn't do enough? Aside from the stupidity of the investigation, I am saddened that it even got reported to the police. No one wants their children to see this sort of thing, but talk about an overreaction! Why are we as a people SO paranoid that when our children see "thumbsize images" of pornography we prosecute her in a courtroom, instead of calmly asking the teacher what happened, explaining it to the children, and cleaning up the computer (to make sure it doesn't happen again? This is just sick!

    I have two young children; one who is in Kindergarten. I am very computer literate. If something like this happened at my school, I would not panic. I would try and find out what actually happened and I would probably defend the teacher. Oh, and here is a shocker: I would not lose any sleep over my child seeing something so small. I would talk about it and try and help the school out to make sure it does not repeat.

    I am amazed at the amount of fear and ignorance (and yes, stupidity: there is a lot of it around) out there. Get a grip, people. Try and learn something for a change.

     

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  28.  
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    A shamed & embarrased American, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 8:53pm

    Just plain shameful

    Until those those in authority who jump to conclusions and destroy innocent people's lives are held accountable this type of witch hunt will occur again and again. The general public should feel shamed (we elected these witch hunters)and demand those involved make public appologies, financial restitution, and be REAL Americans by being more concerned about how they have injured this poor woman than hiding their own misconduct. Real Americans respect those who admit their mistakes and make things right for the ones they have injured. Amazing how many elected officials would rather see this woman's life destroyed than just tell the public they were mistaken. Aren't they supposed to act like the elected PUBLIC officials they are and be honest with the PUBLIC? Public officials trying to saving Face = Cowardice & Deception.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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