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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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  1. identicon
    James, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:09am

    This is troubling

    We continue to see government agencies and authorities with little or no inkling as to how technology works or can be used incorrectly. This kind of thing should never have been pursued in the first place.

    That said, she could have turned the monitor off before anyone in her class saw anything.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:21am

    Everyone who refuses to admit a mistake in this case should rightfully be ashamed of themselves, moreso if Amero dies due to her declining health.

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

  3. identicon
    Chris, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:23am

    Others to blame?

    It's a shame this had to happen. Following the skewed logic of the Connecticut officials, I wonder why others (sysadmin) were not found complicit in this. I mean, isn't it their responsibility to update spyware, etc?

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

  4. identicon
    Overcast, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:24am

    What comes around goes around. Maybe they will be the next ones infected and lose their wondrous government jobs..

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

  5. identicon
    Comboman, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:32am


    If Amero dies as a result of this, the school board, police and DA's office should be charged with computer fraud. If Lori Drew was guilty then these guys are too.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:46am

    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.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:50am


    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

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

  8. identicon
    ScytheNoire, 24 Nov 2008 @ 9:59am

    This is just pathetic that this happened to her. It shows how out of touch these people are and she should be suing them until all of them are broke, jobless and in jail. It's just pathetic and a news organization like 20/20 or 60 minutes should pick this up and expose this crime by Connecticut.

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

  9. identicon
    i-am-a-teacher, 24 Nov 2008 @ 10:09am

    this is bull shit!!

    the subject says it all!..... Julie Amero did nothing wrong. irritating..... it is things like this that explains why we are in such dire need of teachers.

    irritating.....fucking stupid....that is what it is...

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

  10. identicon
    glenn, 24 Nov 2008 @ 10:40am

    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.

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

  11. identicon
    Ugh!, 24 Nov 2008 @ 10:45am

    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.


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

  12. identicon
    another mike, 24 Nov 2008 @ 10:47am


    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."

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

  13. identicon
    You never know, 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:05am

    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.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:30am

    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.

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

  15. identicon
    Jon, 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:37am

    The Lesson

    All this will do is teach technically-literate children the best way to get their teacher fired. Porn-bomb the teach's desktop, and it's off to jail they go.

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

  16. identicon
    TDR, 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:46am

    And this is why all government officials should be required to take computer literacy courses and maintain that literacy throughout their careers via regular testing. All from outside, independent agencies, of course. And if they fail, they lose their job, or at least the ability to cover all cases where technology is involved.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Nov 2008 @ 12:17pm


    LMAO, government officials lose their jobs? Short of raping puppies in front of everyone it is nearly impossible fire a member of the bureaucracy. Lazy? Move him to another department. Incompetent? Promote her. Unqualified? Rewrite the job description. Caught stealing? Slap his wrist.

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

  18. identicon
    thomas, 24 Nov 2008 @ 12:30pm

    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.

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

  19. icon
    PaulT (profile), 24 Nov 2008 @ 12:31pm

    ...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.

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

  20. identicon
    Sneeje, 24 Nov 2008 @ 12:53pm

    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.

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

  21. identicon
    Bill, 24 Nov 2008 @ 12:59pm

    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.

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

  22. identicon
    Rose M. Welch, 24 Nov 2008 @ 3:00pm

    Re: justice?

    I really lol'd!

    You, sir, win the Internets.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Nov 2008 @ 3:18pm

    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.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Nov 2008 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Great teacher recruiting advertisements

    Not likely going to have any effect, sorry.

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

  25. identicon
    Wilhem Busch, 24 Nov 2008 @ 5:47pm

    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.

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

  26. identicon
    Mike, 24 Nov 2008 @ 7:06pm

    Too bad

    On a teachrs salary she couldn't afford a decent lawyer, because if it were me I would be walking away from the courthouse with pockets full of cash...

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

  27. identicon
    hegemon13, 24 Nov 2008 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Julie Amero

    Er...racist much? What, exactly, was your point?

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

  28. identicon
    yea right, 29 Nov 2008 @ 9:49pm

    Re: CT and stupidity


    Number one: Doubtful you were the coordinator, number two: if you were 1.5 years is a narrow track record for "knowing whats going on", number three: if these people (student technicians) were in control of teacher wages then it would be a national case by now.

    Just airing your dirty laundry

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

  29. identicon
    UTLAnonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2009 @ 2:24pm

    Re: 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.

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

  30. identicon
    yea right, 10 Jan 2009 @ 7:45pm

    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!

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

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