WINDHAM, Connecticut (AP) — Until recently, Julie Amero says, she lived the quiet life of a small-town substitute teacher, with little knowledge of computers and even less about porn.
Now she is in the middle of a criminal case that hinges on the intricacies of both, and it could put her behind bars for up to 40 years.
She was convicted last month of exposing seventh-grade students to pornography on her classroom computer.
She contended the images were inadvertently thrust onto the screen by pornographers’ unseen spyware and adware programs.
This seems to me a case where the law – and, more importantly, the lawyers – have not kept up with the technology of 2007, let alone 1999.
Amero says that before her class started, a teacher allowed her to e-mail her husband. She says she used the computer and went to the bathroom, returning to find the permanent teacher gone and two students viewing a Web site on hair styles.
Amero says she chased the students away and started class. But later, she says, pornographic images started popping up on the computer screen by themselves. She says she tried to click the images off, but they kept returning, and she was under strict orders not to shut the computer off.
Sure, she should have turned the computer off, but I’ve seen plenty of smart people rendered dumb by idiotic decrees like “thou shalt not turn off the computer.” As for how the pop ups could have come about, I think most of you have been around the internet block once or twice, maybe seeing a boobie or a ding-dong in that time, once or twice unintentionally even.
It’s easy – you may want to visit Craigslist to sell some old socks or something, but instead you miskey it as “www.craiglist.com” – what do you get? Apparently, the “best XXX sex on the net!”
So, because the prosecutors and the school administrators live in a world in which America Online is the height of technological glory, this woman will have a criminal record, if not a jail sentence.
Can a defendant plead “innocent by reason of prosecutorial insanity?”