Monday, November 24, 2008

Virus victim plea-bargains to settle case

A former substitute teacher in Connecticut has reached a deal that calls for her to lose her teaching licence after exposing students to online pornography. Forty-one-year-old Julie Amero pleaded guilty on Friday in Norwich Superior Court in Connecticut to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. She will also pay a $US100 fine.

Pornography appeared on her classroom computer in 2004 in view of seventh-graders. Several computer experts believe the machine was infected with programs that caused the images to pop up beyond her control.

Amero was convicted in 2007 of risk of injury to a minor and could have faced 40 years in prison. A judge threw out her conviction after finding flawed testimony. She was awaiting a new trial when she reached the plea deal.

Original report here

Background from last year:

A US judge granted a new trial on Wednesday for a former substitute teacher convicted of allowing students to view pornography on a classroom computer. Prosecutors did not oppose the defence motion for a new trial for Julie Amero, 40, who had faced up to 40 years in prison after her January conviction.

The computer was sent to a state laboratory after the trial, and the judge said on Wednesday that those findings may contradict evidence presented by the state computer expert. "The jury may have relied, at least in part, on that faulty information," said Judge Hillary B. Strackbein, who granted the request for a new trial.

Amero has adamantly denied clicking on pornographic websites that appeared on her classroom's computer screen in October 2004 while she was teaching seventh-graders at Kelly Middle School in Connecticut in the US. Some technology experts believe unseen spyware and adware programs might have generated the pop-up ads for pornographic websites. Amero and her supporters say the old computer, which she was ordered to leave on, lacked firewall or anti-spyware protections to prevent inappropriate pop-ups.

Several students testified that they saw pictures of naked men and women, including at least one image of a couple having oral sex.

Amero was to have been sentenced on Wednesday, but instead pleaded not guilty to the same charges - four counts of risk of injury to a minor. A date for the new trial has not been set.

"I had a great team behind me and I feel comfortable with the decision today," she said after the hearing. Her attorney, William F. Dow, commended prosecutors, saying they acted responsibly. "The lesson from this is all of us are subject to the whims of these computers," he said after the hearing.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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