Connecticut Finally Drops Charges Against Julie Amero

from the too-little-too-late dept

In a case of what appears to unfortunately be “too little, too late” Techmeme points us to the news that Connecticut officials have finally agreed to drop felony charges against Julie Amero. As you may recall, Julie Amero was a substitute teacher who was randomly surfing some webpages on a classroom computer while students were working on some projects. On one webpage, the computer started opening a never ending series of windows showing pornographic pictures — symptomatic of a computer infected with some malicious spyware. However, Connecticut police and prosecutors chose to try Amero on felony charges, threatening to put her in jail for 40 years, and getting a conviction.

After numerous security experts brought attention to the case, a judge finally granted a new trial, and Connecticut police and officials refused to admit a mistake and still intended to try Amero. However, as noted above, the state finally worked out an agreement with Amero, where the state dropped most of the charges, after Amero agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor) and give up her teacher’s license. The article also notes that, due in part to stress from the case, Amero has been hospitalized and is in declining health.

It’s great that Connecticut finally decided to drop the charges, but the whole thing remains a travesty. It’s unclear what Amero did that was “disorderly conduct” or why she deserves to lose her teacher’s license. On top of that, the fact that the state still refuses to admit its mistakes in the case is a tremendous shame. A bunch of technically illiterate folks basically destroyed this woman’s life and still stand by what they did.

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Comments on “Connecticut Finally Drops Charges Against Julie Amero”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This is troubling

It was a projector, and the pop-ups came at random.

The saddest part is she was a SUBSTITUTE teacher, so why isn’t the real teacher having charges pressed?

Oh and they made her plead guilty to a misdemeanor so she can’t counter-sue the prosecutor for slander. Chances are, she’ll never be able to teach again either.

Anonymous Coward says:

technically illiterate

Nice way of saying ‘stupid’. Most ‘technically illiterate’ people fail to understand basic logical concepts. It’s a shame that the lower ones IQ, the more likely they are to reproduce.

Basic logic applies to EVERYTHING, not just computers. Maybe the officials should have their status removed because they’re unable to grasp infected computer != teacher’s fault, unless s the teacher was purposefully browsing ‘naughty’ sites off hours.

Sneeje says:

Re: technically illiterate

Well… it’s way more complicated than that. People generally operate on mental models that are strongly influenced by their concept of the world (gestalt). People that never learn (for whatever reason) to internalize the basic mental model of how computers operate, may understand basic logic but will apply it incorrectly.

For example, many people believe that turning up a thermostat increases the temperature of the air coming from the furnace/heat pump, when in fact it only increases the amount of time the furance will run. It will not make the house warmer faster. This is due to an erroneous mental model of heating systems.

So, you can imagine that someone that has very little exposure to computers and never learned how they worked even on a basic level would get overwhelmed by the complexities we see today. Especially if you begin to realize that they learn the models of how computers work only from the media and casual exposure.

Anonymous Coward (user link) says:


This just shows how people cannot catch up with the times of today. You have a bunch of older people who do not understand that their is a bunch of mischief happening on the internet. In my opinion the school network should of had better security policies in place to stop a thing from ever occurring.

Visit P2P Tech Time

glenn says:

This is bound to happen again to some other poor innocent soul

The schools computer administrator is at fault. It’s their computer hardware, their computer software and thier computer administration processes. Connecticut officials should be ashamed of themselves and fired. Poor woman. My heart aches for her. This is bound to happen again to some other poor innocent person.

Ugh! says:

CT and stupidity

Having been born and raised in CT, I can tell you this is not even the TIP of the iceberg when it comes to government and prosecutorial stupidity in that state.

Little things like “campfires are illegal unless in a covered container” and other issues are one of the reasons I left CT never to return.

I was the District Technology Coordinator for a school district in CT for about 1.5 years – and saw HUGE travesties in the educational/technology arena. The district even voted to delete the technology department budget from the school budget in order to not have a mil increase in town taxes (they had not had a mil increase in the prior 5 years either – just kept deleting from various education budgets). Instead – they turned the school network over to a couple of student technicians – who then had control of not only their own grades – but all other student grades, teacher wages, etc.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: CT and stupidity

Well you left then at the wrong time as CT is one of the strongest states in terms of education, living, and finances. CT is THE wealthiest state in the country (and since all states are in debt, that means the least in debt), has excellent health care, and oh, did I mention, a very strong educational system.

With that said, being a CT resident myself for 31 years, I am appalled that Richard Blumenthal’s (CT’s AG) office took this case as far as it did. This is NOT typically how the AG’s office proceeds in criminal cases and is generally pretty good. However their actions were way out of proportion and over-reaching. This case is definitely a black-eye on the face of CT (though we will recover).

While most people in the country have little understanding of technology, there will always remain some, including myself, that will not let the AG’s office forget the horrendous actions they took against this woman who clearly was innocent.

another mike says:


this whole affair is a tragedy and a miscarriage of justice. the school board probably has a policy statement saying ms amero shouldn’t have been online in class and they’re using that to revoke her teaching license. or, at least, they’d better if they don’t want to be sued out of existence.

but the pr0n infestation? they need to charge the sys admin that built the system with conspiracy if they charge her for it. the admin is just as complicit. the principal probably set up the computer himself because he “knows about all that computer stuff.”

You never know says:

The system is called “mouse trapping.” You open one website that triggers a never ending link to other websites, usually porn. A popular trick several many years ago. To trip the trap you have to go to a site that is more than likely inaccurately named and the trap is sprung. It is unfortunate this happened and I agree it is stupid that a government agency could not figure it out by simply checking the cookies on her machine and seeing what site triggered the onslaught. But then again it would have killed their case. My guess is Julie Amero agreed to the single charge just to get out from under the stress and attempt to heal up. If not the state would continue pressure her until she just passed away.
Legal homicide if you will, and don’t think for a moment lawyers wouldn’t stoop this low as I know from personal experience they will. As it is the state of Connecticut can pat it’s self on the back for “protecting the kids.” If you ask me, Julie has one hell of a case against the state but is now to sick to even fight.

thomas (profile) says:

Great teacher recruiting advertisements

Now just imagine how many people will choose NOT to work as teachers for Connecticut. Next time they try to recruit, maybe they can use this as an advertisement for how well they treat their teachers. I’m glad I’m not a teacher in Connecticut; if I was I’d move to another state for fear of the same thing happening to me.

PaulT (profile) says:

…meanwhile local authorities are complaining they can’t hire enough teachers. Cases like this, and where teachers so much as raising their voice to children are disciplined for “abuse” are the reason why. I’d say f**k ’em normally, but this can only have a negative effect on the next generation.

Not only that, but imagine if this happened to a *male* substitute. Judging by the normal level of sanity associated with this kind of issue, we’d be seeing a story about a posthumous acquittal, if he was acquitted at all.

As for those who keep saying “they should have turned it off / closed the window” – the pop-ups likely covered the screen before she knew what was happening, and teachers aren’t usually tech experts. Even if she realised what was going on straight away, she couldn’t have turned it off before the kids saw something and parents complained. Her only crime is trusting the school for having working equipment. Having to second guess your employer’s every move in case you get placed into this kind of situation? That’s why there’s a shortage of good teachers – anyone with sense avoids the profession.

Bill says:

Stupid Connecticut

At my wife’s school the outside techs that managed the school’s network would come in to fix what ever. To check the internet access they would use a known porn site. they would then leave it on the screen and walk out of the classroom. Knowing that they were just in my wife’s office, she turned off the monitor and called in the principal. She came and my wife turned on the monitor telling the principal that the tech just left when she came in the room. The tribal police and the superintendent where called in. Since these bright techs (two) went up to the middle school and were still on the reservation, the tribal police arrested them. They were turned over to county which prosecuted them and the contract to the outside contractor was canceled without further payment for breaking the contract. The two techs spent 90 days in county lockup – I think they should have spent a couple of years. At their trial, which their former employer refused to support them legally, they said it was all a joke. Another teacher at school lost his license, retirement and his job for letting his brother-in-law use his computer while he was grading tests. His brother-in-law was porn surfing.

Wilhem Busch says:

Julie Amero

It must be a thing with the human condition,that when you put a white dust coat on some people they transform to a wannbe mini “Hitler” and the whiter the coat the more they push their perceived power even to the point of the ludicrous.As an observer outside the US it is becoming clearer why so many people there resolve these sorts of things with a Colt 45. Unfortunately for JA she is just like the millions of people who take one in the rear end every time they bends over. Perhaps she should consider some retail therapy, either a really white dust coat or a Colt 45.

UTLAnonymous Coward says:

CT and stupidity

1 – You might not realize that non-techs assign computer literate people to “do certain things” on a computer system, with no sense of how many “other things” they can do or access through the same network. This includes student ‘helpers’, who are prefered because of their ignorance of general community operations details.
2 – Co-ordinator means only minor level sys admin.
3 – The corruption inside the education establishment is so logically rampant that it is easily observed by its fiscal/admin behavioral consequences, and as unaccountable, totally unafraid of its controlled employees/staff.
4 – 1.5 years is about right to realize your tremendous liability and engineer your escape before you get harmed.
5 – There is no effective review of corrupt practices. We have observed an ex-FBI agent , an ex-state governor, and an Admiral [ret.] be unable to grasp the corruption, though the last plainly understood its impact on the community.

yea right says:

your all under a spell of "oh whoas me"

Regardless of all comments…. she pleaded guilty, you do not plead if your case for defense is as strong as all these people (including tech nerds) say it is. Thus therefore, ergo… she is culpable.

By the way saw her three days ago, she bought a nice infinity and a new house with all the donations to her defense.

Way to go Joe sympathy!

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