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Teacher Found Guilty of Endangering Kids Due to Spyware 597

nursegirl writes "Norwich, Conn seventh grade teacher, Julie Amero has been convicted of four counts of risk of injury to a minor after her classroom PC displayed pornographic pop-ups in class. While an expert for the defendant said he had discovered spyware on her PC that had been downloaded from a hairstyling site, the local police investigator claimed that the spyware had been downloaded from actively visiting porn sites. Amero testified that she had told four other teachers and the assistant principal about the popups, but received no assistance. The school's internet filtration software was not working because it's license had expired. Amero faces up to forty years in prison."
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Teacher Found Guilty of Endangering Kids Due to Spyware

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  • The other sad thing (That is, other than a jacked up jury, and the defendant not having a tech-savvy lawyer...) is that this could probably have been easily prevented.

    When I service customers' computers, I like to install Spybot, configure it to auto-update, auto-scan, and set its scan priority to "Idle", so it doesn't interfere with the user's activities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quiberon2 ( 986274 )
      Do you seek permission from the customers before putting this software on ?

      I know on average it will probably help. But 'on average' and 'probably' are not good enough as-and-when Spybot makes a medical imaging machine behave in a way other than designed, for example.

      Get that permission, and if it's not given then do not put any software on.

      • by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) * <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:55AM (#17588964) Homepage Journal
        Yes. We ask them before we install antispyware and antivirus utilities, through our intake process.

        As for undesired behavior...I run a free PC Clinic []. People bring in their desktops and laptops for cleanup and repair, and we send them back the same day. With a good number of volunteers, we've fixed as many as 35 computers in a six-hour period.

        Since they're peoples' personal machines, there's not a great deal of risk of adverse behavior from the tools we use.
      • by EvilIdler ( 21087 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:01AM (#17588990)
        What sort of medical imaging device is connected to the greater Internet, rather than a secure WLAN
        of some sort, if it actually needs networking?
        • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:05AM (#17589010)
          i used to work in pathology, and the answer is ALL OF THEM.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by RattFink ( 93631 )

          What sort of medical imaging device is connected to the greater Internet, rather than a secure WLAN
          of some sort, if it actually needs networking?

          You would be surprised. A lot of imaging in smaller hospitals and clinics are read by radiologists off-site though a service firm and the reports are sent to the doctor via email. It would be insanely expensive for a clinic or small hospital with an Xray and a CAT scan that is used perhaps 3-4 times a day to hire a radiologist.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )
            Yes, we do this at our small, rural hospital. The data is dumped through a VPN - it's fairly well locked down although I still bridle at the fact that the PCs in the general hospital network are pretty open.

            The system was set up by the radiology group that interprets the image. I talked with one of their techs during the install. They're quite cognizant of the issues facing a remote medical imaging site. The PCs are scanned remotely on a regular basis. The point being that it's not set up by a bunch o

      • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:39AM (#17591228)
        Do you seek permission from the customers before putting this software on ? I know on average it will probably help. But 'on average' and 'probably' are not good enough as-and-when Spybot makes a medical imaging machine behave in a way other than designed, for example.

        Don't be ridiculous. Anyone who is using a "medical imaging machine" isn't going to hire out to a small shop for IT support. They're going to be part of a hospital or other facility that has their own IT support. And most likely there will be a special department dedicated specifically to support of the medical imaging systems. I know this because supporting PACS systems is been part of what I do for a living.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by megabyte405 ( 608258 )
        That is a bit of hyperbole. If you're goofing around on a MEDICAL IMAGING machine because of spyware, then someone already didn't have permission - things like that should never be connected to the internet, full stop.
    • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:15AM (#17589510)
      This dude [] apparently had kiddie porn found on his computer(that most likely got there via virii/trojans) and was facing a sex offender label/jail time for it. The defendent's family hired a computer expert who analyzed the said computer's harddrive, and found many, many backdoor programs that would have allowed hackers into the comp. While the article doesn't exactly give technical details, it does make a good point in that this country's prosecutors/legal system are well behind the times in terms of technology issues.

      And, this isn't the only case where this has happened before (2003) []

      • I don't think it's so much a problem of the legal system being behind the times technologically as it is a 'problem' with our legal system's greatest strength also being its greatest weakness. Trial by a jury of your peers means that you will often have lay people deciding highly technical cases. This is a situation where a better voir dire would have resulted in a better informed jury. The problem is that you have to explain highly technical language to people that may have no clue. I'm not sure how th
        • by Guido von Guido ( 548827 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:15PM (#17592330)
          My father's advice (possibly misremembered) was to opt for a trial by judge if you were innocent and a trial by jury if you were guilty. Now, he actually was a lawyer, but he was definitely not a trial lawyer, so take that with a very large grain of salt.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rick17JJ ( 744063 )

          I have on several occasions tried to give several security tips to average computer users about using WiFi host spots. In two instances, I barely got started before they complained that I was talking way over their head and had used unfamiliar jargon such as browsers, IE, cookies, packet sniffing, encryption and phishing. It was clear that they did not not even want to try to understand what to understand what I was trying to warn them about. They just wanted to access their email and do their on-line ba

      • by Rick17JJ ( 744063 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:32PM (#17594028)

        Prosecutors, police and lawmakers all seem to be making the assumption that computer owners should be responsible for everything that is sent to and from the Internet. Yet, we have average people with little knowledge of computer security who are using hard to secure Windows computers. A large percentage of all Windows computer have been infected by spyware or browser hijackers or have had back doors placed in them my hackers or the malware itself. A recent New York Times article was titled the Attack of the Zombie Computers Is Growing Threat []. It says that "botnet programs are present on about 11 percent of the more than 650 million computers attached to the Internet". Most of those zombie computers are probably spewing out spam for porn, pump-and-dump stock schemes, or illegal activities such as phishing schemes that steal peoples charge card numbers or passwords. Should those 70 million Windows computer owners around the world also be arrested and sentenced to years or decades in prison?

        Last night on ABC, on TV, I saw a 20/20 segment about "Prison Time For Viewing Porn []". In that case a teenage boy was facing the possibility of 90 years in prison because several child porn files that were found on the family computer. Police pounded on the door of their Phoenix home at 6:00 a.m. and seized the family computer. The sixteen-year-old boy offered to take a lie detector test and passed the test, but prosecutors continued to press charges. A computer expert later looked at the hard drive and found more than 200 infected files and back doors that allowed hackers to access the family computer from remote locations. Most likely someone else used the insecure Bandy family computer as a place to store the files which they did not dare store it on their own computer.

        I have heard that many computer repair people spend much of their time removing spyware from computers belonging to people who complain that computers are running slowly. Prosecutors and police should take into account that these people were not using a more secure operating system such as MAC OS X, Linux or BSD. However, security problems or other misleading circumstances can occur when using Mac, Linux, or BSD. For instance, I use Linux and when I find an interesting website with various interesting Linux, ham radio, solar energy or nutrition related files, I occasionally use the wget command [] to download most of what is on that web page. I latter frequently am surprised to discover that the wget command also downloaded hundreds of pictures of New England covered bridges or family photos too. I most would most likely not notice if child porn photos had also automatically been downloaded into an obscure subdirectory.

        How can law makers, police, prosecutors and child protection supporters seriously suggest holding people accountable for what is found computers without outlawing the use of Windows first? Furthermore, where I live the local cable companies provide their customers with broadband routers which are wide open to being used by nighbors by default. The telephone company where I live provides wireless routers which by default use insecure WEP encryption method. About half of all wireless networks do not have any security enabled and many of the others just use WEP or are still using the defalt SSID and password. Many people also do not use antivirus software, spyware removal software, properly secured firewalls or the latest security updates. Even with Windows security patches installed there are frequently unpatched zero-day exploits out there such as the one for Word documents that Microsoft failed to patch earlier this week on "patch Tuesday." How can police and lawmakers seriously suggest holding people accountable for what is on people computers in these circumstances.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by macdaddy ( 38372 )
          I'm a highly technical and certified computer network geek. My own server was compromised twice last year. My laptop was compromised. My eBay account was compromised. My main home PC was infected twice and I had AVG on it. Now if I as a highly technical security nut can have that many problems in a single year imagine how many problem the average Internet user has. Besides that person having way more problem than I because of their inherent insecure practices, I actually noticed when I had a problem.
      • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:56PM (#17595004) Homepage Journal
        When I worked at Microsoft's technical support division, on at least one occasion I answered a call from someone whose computer had been compromised and was being used as a distribution point for child porn. At the time, I told her it was better that she go to the FBI and seek their assistance, but sometimes I wonder if that was really the best advice.

        I don't know what ever became of it.
      • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:05PM (#17595806) Homepage

        It has nothing to do with prosecutors being tech-ignorant.

        It has to do with prosecutors seeking to make a name for themselves by jumping on the "child porn" bandwagon - a guaranteed way to get re-election.

        It's a career move, nothing more.

        It's what you get when "law creates crime".

        Look at the "Drug War" sometime. It's a way for the Feds to get money and power while suppressing minorities - nothing more. The Feds regularly arrest people for things that shouldn't be crimes in the first place, threaten them with massive jail time in exchange for ratting out all their relatives and friends with lies, then arresting everybody else and repeating the procedure ad nauseum. This is how they get their 98% conviction rate - and their budget money and career path in the DoJ.

        This is why the US has the most incarcerated population in the world.

        The entire system has utterly NOTHING to do with the vague abstract term "justice".

    • by diff2uni ( 1049624 )
      No this could not easily have been prevented. There is no anti-spyware or anti-virus software that will stop all possible infections on a Windows box. As to the morons in court convinced that the teacher "had to physically click" on the porn links to make them show up in some way in Windows... give me a break please. That is so not right. It sounds like this teacher may be railroaded to the jail house over computer issues that the persons running the court are clueless about. Just one more reason to toss Wi
  • by macadamia_harold ( 947445 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:31AM (#17588846) Homepage
    Amero testified that she had told four other teachers and the assistant principal about the popups, but received no assistance ... Amero faces up to forty years in prison.

    If only we had some... amendment... a "bill of rights" if you will... that ruled out "cruel and unusal" punishments like this.

    Nah, that's crazy talk.
    • Re:you know.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) * <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:37AM (#17588870) Homepage Journal
      It's not the punishment that's cruel or unusual, it's the charge. "Risk of injury to a minor" can stem from accidental viewing of a porno ad?

      Injury? It's not a financial loss. The kids weren't physically harmed. The only potential injury is to the parents plans for educating their children. The children themselves certainly weren't scarred for having seen it. If they're scarred at all, it's because they were raised to take offense to the material.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AArmadillo ( 660847 )
        Err... it depends on what kind of porn it is. There's lots and lots of mentally scarring porn out there. Take the goatse man, or tubgirl, as an example. There's plenty of stuff on the Internet I wish I had never seen as an adult, much less as a child. I agree with you that the charge is unreasonable, however.
        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:42AM (#17589240)
          There's lots and lots of mentally scarring porn out there. Take the goatse man, or tubgirl, as an example.

          Hi, my name is Mike, and I was exposed to tubgirl 4 years ago. I have to say that since that night, my life hasn't been the same. Every time I defecate, I have to put duct tape over my mouth first, and then I have to hold my breath. I can't take a bath anymore without crapping. Damn you, tubgirl. I'm so happy about the support I have received in this group, however. You guys are wonderful.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Ok... how many of you guys actually got curious and looked up "tubgirl" on google? Damn! Why Couldn't I Just... Restrain Myself????
            • obligatory: (Score:5, Funny)

              by Bwerf ( 106435 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @09:08AM (#17589844)

              *** Topic in #doghouse is 'Our hearts are extended to the 17 victims of the recent internet fraud'
              * Anubis has joined #doghouse
              <Anubis> what fraud?
              <Kadmium> You haven't heard about it?
              <Anubis> no?
              <Kadmium> You can read the full story at []
              <Anubis> omg wtf!
              *** Kadmium changes topic to 'Our hearts are extended to the 18 victims of the recent internet fraud'

              from bash [].
        • Re:you know.... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:14AM (#17589500) Homepage Journal

          Is that so? As a kid I once saw a blowjob picture and I found it exceedingly gross. Did I recover? Sure... Even goatse, bestiality and tubgirl do nothing to me anymore. Would I enjoy doing anything of those things? Hell, no! But, hey, other people can do what they want.... Tolerance is something you learn over the years.

          You want to know the one thing that scarred me as a kid, which I still remember with disgust to this day? I saw a charred corpse on TV. (I think it was on the news) I had nightmares for months after that. Still today, I ca't stand watching pictures of charred corpses.

          • Re:you know.... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by EsbenMoseHansen ( 731150 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:44AM (#17589670) Homepage

            You touch upon that strange thing in western society (or perhaps everywhere, I am not sure). Why is seeing sex considered so harmful to children, compared to quite disgusting violence (that can and will give nightmares, etc)? I have a hard time seeing how seeing sex could really harm a human child... especially such a short exposure such as this. I mean, many children must at least have walked in on their parents having sex at some point... and I think most of those children turn out ok anyway. And I'd wager any healthy boy (and girl more likely than not) have seen some kind of porn at 10 year old (and said "ewwww", too).

            I just don't see the reasoning there. Anyone know why or how this "sex is harmful to see for children" came about?

            • by BakaHoushi ( 786009 ) <Goss,Sean&gmail,com> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @09:20AM (#17589914) Homepage
              The problem with your reasoning is:
              A) You're using reason. That's the first sign you're an immoral heathen.
              B)Violence is natural. Sex is not. If God wanted us to have sex, we would be born with some kind of genitals which would develop over time, allowing us to perform and desire sexual acts, not the submachines guns babies come with out of the womb. ...Hey, wait a minute...

              When I was a young boy (probably around 10), I'd just gotten out of the pool and while walking around, I saw my 5 year-old-cousin drying off. She had her towel open in the front.

              That's right: I, a boy as young as 10, saw my first naked girl. So terrible was the sight I went on a killing spree for weeks to calm my troubled mind. And did you know the assassin who killed Archduke Ferdinand, which launched WWI, became an assassin after walking in on his parents having sex?

              Seriously, there is no logic. Sex is natural. It's about the most natural thing there is. And plenty of young children, get this, even like to play with their genitals. They may not understand why, but they think it feels good. So, why some people think it's okay to see the aftermath of a carpet bombing but not a pair of breasts I'll never understand.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) *

              It's not a thing in western society. You probably will not be surprised that I live in Europe. Sex isn't as demonized as it is is in the United States. We have commercials that are considered "raunchy" by Americans. Softporn is easy to get on TV and I remember my dad allowed us to watch movies with erotic-but-really-not-much-to-see stuff. He also had his own porn collection which was not well hidden. He damn well knew that we knew where it was.

              These days porn probably is mostly digital, and I could

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Phleg ( 523632 )
                As someone who ages ago found my dad's shit on his computer, you're not doing your kids any favors by leaving it around in easy-to-find places. It's like walking in on your parents having sex, only weirder.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cosmol ( 143886 )
              I just don't see the reasoning there. Anyone know why or how this "sex is harmful to see for children" came about?

              I have been thinking about this too after I saw stupid story about how kids might use their Wiis and PS3s to look at porn on the internet. The mother in the story talked about how her childrens "innocence might be destroyed if they learn something they aren't supposed to know" (I paraphrase) That sure sounds like the garden-of-eden tree-of-knowledge story.

              The word innocent is often used to de
        • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @09:10AM (#17589854) Journal
          Anyone who considers goatse and tubgirl to be porn are already "injured" IMHO.

      • Re:you know.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tehshen ( 794722 ) <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:55AM (#17588966)
        The kids weren't physically harmed.

        Does anyone know what the sentence would be if she actually attacked one of the kids? I'm guessing even that would be a lot less.
        • Re:you know.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by stinerman ( 812158 ) <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:13AM (#17589052) Homepage

          It'd probably be less than 40 years if she'd have murdered one of them.
      • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:14AM (#17589064)
        I think you do understand the harm that can be done by looking at a female nipple. Ok, seeing people get shot might be pretty bad, but a female nipple is much worse. People should be SHOT if they willingly expose them or look at them. [] is just a disaster waiting to happen
      • Re:you know.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:13AM (#17589492)
        The children themselves certainly weren't scarred for having seen it.

        I take it you didn't get the memo.

        If they're scarred at all, it's because they were raised to take offense to the material.

        There is that, of course, but there is the corallary as well. It is my observation that kids that are scarred by the experience get this scarring from having to deal with all the fucked up grownups around them going completely apeshit about their having seen a little exposed skin.

        It's a self fullfilling prophecy that kids are harmed by it if you insure they come to harm yourself.

        Yo! People. Under our clothes? We're naked. Get used to the idea, 'k? I'm getting a bit tired of living among psychotics.

  • i dont see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCybernator ( 996224 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:31AM (#17588848) Homepage
    how that is teachers fault? Unless the teacher installed the spy-ware intentionaly, which is probably not the case.
    • by SumoRoti ( 1000740 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:10AM (#17589040)
      It is the best news of this week. I am 13 years old and now, I know how to send my teachers in jail.

      Yahoo!! Long life to the spywares!!![sardonic laugh]Revenge!

      Artemis Fowl
    • Re:i dont see (Score:4, Insightful)

      by asifyoucare ( 302582 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @09:42AM (#17590056)
      how that is teachers fault?

      Exactly. In Australia we have a concept of legal causation for criminal offences, and you probably do in the U.S. as well.

      Even if the teacher had been visiting porn sites, the display of porn to pupils via pop-ups was not in any sense a deliberate act by her. There's no way she'd be guilty of a crime here. Most people would agree that harsh penalties should only apply to deliberate or reckless acts, and if that applies in the U.S. then the teacher should be off the hook as far as the courts are concerned.

  • by lupine_stalker ( 1000459 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:41AM (#17588886)
    There we go, slash the budget for Personal Health and Development classes. The kids have already gotten all their ill-advised Sex Ed from the friendly people at
  • by jonfr ( 888673 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:43AM (#17588902) Homepage
    I don't see this is the teacher fault, it is well known that spyware can install it self with viruses and other nasty things. It is also interesting to note that the software that is meant to keep this out was not working, becose it's license was expired. That can only be the schools fault. But I don't expect conviction greedy Prosecutor to understand that. Since, based on the news I am reading here. He is a total idiot, and rightly so. Who the hell sues over spyware, even if these kids did see some porn on the computer screen, I would think that the Tv is twice as worse then that.

    I guess few people in the US needs to be connected back to reality.
  • Whoooaaaa... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:49AM (#17588936)
    Amero faces up to forty years in prison.

    With laws like that... why don't you let the terrorists win?
  • 40 years ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cygnus78 ( 628037 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:50AM (#17588938)
    Here in scandinavia you would not even get such a hard punishment even if she had murdered the entire schoolclass.

    I know she will not get that much, but even to consider it is laughable.
    • Re:40 years ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by penthouseplayah ( 454492 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:37AM (#17589642)
      And in Denmark, in my freshman year of high school (equivalent to 10th grade, youngest pupil 15 years) at a school meeting some of the seniors set up a TV with a Peter North video and let it run for 5-10 minutes, before the teachers demanded it stopped. Not because of the porn, but mostly because we had to get back to class. Note that the principal and almost all teachers were present those 5-10 minutes.

      The US seriously needs to prioritize.
    • Re:40 years ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:51AM (#17589710) Homepage Journal
      In Norway, murdering the entire school class would have gotten her 21 years, with reporting requirements to the police for the following 10-20 years at most. It's the maximum sentence allowed for any crime if I remember correctly.
  • The most frightening aspect of this for me isn't so much that she is facing fourty YEARS in prison (do murderers face that much time, typically??!?)

    It's that this verdict was based on SIX jurors. How is that possible? I thought a jury _had_ to be twelve members (or more)? Something I shall have to research ..

    Hits to freedom come faster and faster these days, and police state USA, fullblown, is just around the corner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's that this verdict was based on SIX jurors. How is that possible? I thought a jury _had_ to be twelve members (or more)? Something I shall have to research ..

      Short answer: State Constitutions vary. Each state decides how many peers a "jury of your peers" needs to have in it to be fair. Twelve is traditionally the number, and most states observe this, but some use six, and some eight.

      IANAL, but I'm pretty sure all the states still require a unanimous verdict (all jurors in agreement) to convict.

  • by aeneas ( 139456 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:54AM (#17588956) Homepage
    40 years prison for not installing Firefox... duh!
  • by ChangeOnInstall ( 589099 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:05AM (#17589008)
    It is trivial to write a piece of software that, when installed on a person's computer, will visit web sites of the attacker's choosing. The software could be programmed to do this covertly and with the specific intent of incriminating the victim, e.g., by only visiting illegal/immoral sites at such times when the person was using the computer to browse the Internet. The offending sites would be in the victim's browser history, having been visited at times when he/she was using the computer. The software could be programmed to destroy itself after a duration, with the attacker then providing information to authorities with regard to the victim's illicit surfing habit. Getting the software onto the victim's computer is also trivial, given the number of exploits available, open wireless networks, etc.

    I'm expecting this to happen soon, if it has not already. Perhaps even as targetted attacks rather than simply random misanthropy.
  • Removing the technology issues from discussion, this case isn't unlike a teacher who carries with him or her polaroids of a personal nature, and has one of them fall out of a jacket while in front of a classroom. In that sense, the teacher should be held accountable.

    On the other hand, given that most everyone has at one time been inadvertently exposed to unwanted pornography while browsing the internet, I'm surprised at the narrow view taken. Protecting kids is one thing, but destroying a person's life is
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by timmarhy ( 659436 )
      "this case isn't unlike a teacher who carries with him or her polaroids of a personal nature, and has one of them fall out of a jacket while in front of a classroom"

      except it's NOTHING LIKE THAT, it's not her pictures, they were from software installed in secret without her knowledge, and when she discovered what had happened she attempted to get them removed and recieved no assitance. you can not remove the technology from the argument simply because your too dense to understand it, it's intergral to what

    • by Vario ( 120611 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:32AM (#17589168)

      An important difference between the case and your analogy is that it were not her private pictures.

      In my opinion a better offline analogy would be if she was responsible for collecting the school's mail. On the way to the classroom she emptied the school's mailbox and during her lesson some sex advertisement slipped out from that stack of letters.

      Suing a teacher for something like that is unbelievable. It ruins your education system in the long term for sure if you have to work in such a climate.

      • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:53AM (#17590794)
        Suing a teacher for something like that is unbelievable.
        The REALLY important point here. They're not suing her. They've convicted her of a criminal felony There is a HUGE difference. Most importantly, she faces prison time. Hard time. This isn't 50 hours picking up trash on the side of the highway. She will likely go to pound-me-in-the-ass prison. She will be placed among society's worst. Then when she gets out, she'll have to register as a sex offender so that she can be publicly rediculed and forced not to live near schools, churches or daycare centers. In addtion, wherever she moves, all residents within a mile of her home will get letters telling that a pervert is living near them, so be sure to keep their kids locked up. On every job application, she will have to list herself as a perverted sexual deviant, and she really stands little chance of ever having a normal life.

        The most important distinction, however, is that it's not some hairbrained idiot at the school that decided to levy these charges. Anybody can sue anyone at any time for any reason. No, this charge was levied by the people. By people representing you and me. The real responsibility for this miscarriage of justice rests on the prosecutor that was elected by the people, and who decided to prosecute this case. He or she needs to be held accountable for ruining the life of another human being.

        Don't talk about this like it's something that could really suck for this woman. It already does suck. She's already been convicted. Sure, she can appeal, and based on what I know from this case, she stands a chance of winning, but that black mark is on her record forever. Appeals are not based on the merit of the original conviction, but rather on the fact that she had a fair trial. Until you are convicted, you are innocent until proven guilty. Once you are convicted, you are guilty until proven innocent. It's a whole different ballgame.

        As someone who regularly uses a computer in front of children as an educational tool, and as an IT professional, this story scares the hell out of me. Although I know how to keep my computer free of spyware, there isn't one person on /. that hasn't been stuck in a random porn loop that they themselves didn't cause. I don't visit bad sites, and I don't open up bad emails, but more than once I have had a porn loop pop up on my PC. Now, after this story, I am seriously faced with the prospect of never using the computer as an educational tool again.
  • Its, not it's (Score:4, Informative)

    by yangsta ( 455701 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:12AM (#17589048)
    Its license. Its.

  • by viffer ( 7147 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:22AM (#17589104) Homepage
    I get so fed up with the duality of American society where, on the one hand you are so exceptionally uptight when it comes to nudity, tolerance of other peoples sexuality etc - and on the other hand you are the worlds largest producer & market for pornography.

    This leads to sad, sad examples like this where Prosecutors need to find a guilty party or person at any cost to pin the blame on for having some kids unintentionally see some porn pop-ups. I feel really, really sorry for the poor teacher for getting caught in this mess.

    Its tragicomic for us living outside your country watching this - I sincerely hope you are able to fix these issues in a fundamental way.
    • by John Betonschaar ( 178617 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:45AM (#17589676)
      Agreed. What also makes me wonder is *who the hell got the idea to sue her over this*. Here in Europe, things like this would never, ever, ever go to court. What is with Americans that they need a friggin' court to deal with each and every trivial, minor and major event they don't like?? What happened to the idea of just talking to each other and find a solution all can live with, without destroying someone's life and career? If this teacher gets convicted, even if she only gets 6 months probation, she can kiss her job and any opportunity to get another one in the field goodbye. Years of education wasted, and maybe if she's not that mentally stable she might derange completely, become an alcoholist or even kill herself...

      What should've happened is that this 'incident' (yes: incident, it's nothing more than that) should have been reported to the school principal, and dealt with internally. In the *most extreme* case, in which she deliberately visited porn sites and got the spyware from that, she should be fired. In *any* other case (the spyware came from somewhere else, someone else installed it, etc), there should be *no* repercussions. Maybe only a 'warning' to send out the message to the children's parents that someone was blamed and it won't happen again.

      How you Americans can even consider something like this to be a crime is beyond me... Also, sex is something natural, it does not hurt children. That's not to say you should show your 10-year olds pornography, but if they ever see it accidentally, that's probably a good thing. It opens opportunities to explain some things about life and actually educate and prepare your children for the real world, instead of teaching them denial, hypocrism and an unhealthy and overprudish attitude towards sexuality.
  • by The Fanta Menace ( 607612 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:22AM (#17589106) Homepage

    It's high time conservative Americans got over their problem with sex. It's clear these hypocrites have sex, otherwise they wouldn't be breeding the children that need to be "protected" from these images. No-one can be harmed by viewing pornographic images, certainly not grade seven students.

    There is nothing wrong with sex. There is nothing wrong with nudity. There is certainly nothing wrong with naked female breasts - those of us in the rest of the world were left laughing our heads of at the utter ridiculousness of the outcry over the Janet Jackson "wardrobe misfunction". In fact, women should be free to walk around topless, as men can, if they so desire. The double-standard is simply mind-boggling.

    I wouldn't mind betting that the same children that saw the images on this poor woman's computer also saw a number of acts of mindless violence on television that same evening, and not a soul complained. How's that for stupidity?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by c6gunner ( 950153 )
      Secular Europe != "Rest of the World", genius. I think the Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs may have had a different reaction than you.

      I actually agree with most of what you said, I just find your arrogance astounding. You speak as if your beliefs are the One Self Evident Universal Truth, and that all Americans are fools because some of them disagree with you, even though on a global scale your views are the the minority by a long shot.
      • by hyfe ( 641811 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:05PM (#17592960)
        I actually agree with most of what you said, I just find your arrogance astounding. You speak as if your beliefs are the One Self Evident Universal Truth, and that all Americans are fools because some of them disagree with you, even though on a global scale your views are the the minority by a long shot.

        Yes, his belief actually is part of The One Self Evident Universal Truth. Nipples are not dangerous and people like sex.

        I'm not sure you really want to make this into a numbers game though. Africa is for the most part really open about sex, and most Latin Americans have a fairly relaxed attitude to it. Most of Asia seems to not make such a big deal about it either; it's just not an issue. The only countries I've heard of punishments like these are in fact Middle Eastern ones and the US (coincidently, not too far from the list of countries that still allow executions).

  • The sad thing is (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ahuard ( 992454 )
    that prosecutors are allowed to get away with this sort of abuse in the first place. If for every case that is overturned the prosecutor is required to pay a hefty fine to the defendant for wasting their time and messing with their reputation, we might not have to deal with these kinds of cases in the first place. The D.A. in the Duke rape case needs to be strung up by the balls and give those boys everything he owns in restitution.

    We all agree that the prosecution has wronged the teacher in this case,
  • by ilzogoiby ( 997881 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:30AM (#17589606)
    Well, I believe they should weigh her, and if she weighs the same as a duck, she's guilty...
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:32AM (#17589622) Homepage
    We all make the supposition that pornography is "bad for kids." But where are the studies showing it's harmful? Physically, we don't need to go far to demonstrate that fire and razor blades are potentially harmful to children. But when it comes to emotional or mental damage, I think we're going to need some proof because all the variations involved there. A good defense lawyer would be able to bring those ideas out in demanding that proof of damage be presented.

    I'm sure counter claims could be presented such as pulling in case examples, etc, but I get the feeling that there's invariably a lot more going on with the "troubled" kids and that generally healthy kids, while being embarassed at seeing such material, aren't going to launch any rape or 'Columbine' campaigns as a result of pornographic pop-ups.

    Now that said, the schools should be suing the HELL out of the companies profiting from this form of advertising and in many respects there are plenty of grounds for other legal action against parties outside of the school. I say they should direct their anger and outrage against the REAL parties responsible.

    I don't think much needs to be said about "prevention" though. But I will say this: teaching in school is a presentation. And as such, presentations should be fully prepared in such a way that "unpredictables" are kept to a minimum. Live internet in a classroom at a grade school level is just a bad idea.
  • Chilling effect? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SleepyHappyDoc ( 813919 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:58AM (#17589772)
    I see this as fairly huge. If I was a schoolteacher, as soon as I heard about this, I would immediately stop teaching anything to do with computers or the internet in my classroom. Setting aside the question of whether or not the images in this case resulted from the teacher's actions or from spyware, the case sets a precedent that if students are exposed to pornographic images in your class, you become responsibly, criminally. And, just for gravy, you get to be a sex offender. The cost of this is way too high to make it worth the risk of an accident (say, if a malicious student installed something nasty to set me up), so I would just treat my class as if computers and the internet didn't exist. And so my students wouldn't gain the benefits of these tools, nor any education in their use.

    One would think the possibility that the images were the result of spyware would create reasonable doubt, but since it doesn't...
  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:58AM (#17589776) Homepage
    Assuming that the fact of the case is:

    A substitute teacher had been using a school computer for surfing porn (although the site names sound more like dating sites), one of the sites installed some malware with porn pop-ups which were activated at a point in time where the pupils could see it.

    She is most likely not allowed to use work computers for private purpose (although everybody does), and using it for porn is worse as the risk of malware is higher. This is something that would in a sane society be a cause of a "serious talk" at the boss office. So how did this get this far?

    1) Someone, either the school principal or a parent, must have decided that watching porn pop-ups constitute injury to the pupils.

    2) The prosecutor must have agreed.

    3) The jury has agreed.

    This point to a society whose norms are seriously sick, not just a few twisted individuals.
  • by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @09:32AM (#17589984)
    So let's assume two reasonable worst case scenarios about this case.

    1. The teacher was viewing porn on her computer, but she intended it for her own eyes only, messed up and the kids has seen that she viewed porn. She lied to the kids covering up the situation...

    reasonable reaction: ...and laughter/ridiculing of the teacher ensues, the story is told behind the teacher's back for a few weeks and then everyone forgets about it.

    2. The teacher was viewing porn on her computer and was showing it to kids because of pedophile intent or as an inappropriate sex-ed.

    reasonable reaction: teacher fired, putting her on a list that she can't work with kids anymore. I find the sexual offenders list an overkill though. Disclosing the location of people like this teacher, not letting her go near schools or some such restrictions are an overkill, she is just not fit to be a teacher. She's 40 years old, must have been teaching for a long while now, so you just have to dig in her past to check whether something associated with paedophilia turns up. If yeah, hell sentence her criminally, but if not then there isn't a cause for stronger measures than firing her and not allowing her to work as a teacher anymore.

    Criminal prosecution should only come if there is actual harm to children, and viewing a couple of porn pictures is not harm, it's just bad conduct on the part of the teacher, so it should mean loss of job.

    Personally I think that criminal prosecution in this case is a joke, even more so the 40 year sentence. What's next, execution for giving "the finger"? When I was 12 I was looking for serial keys on astalavista if my memory serves me correct when a porn popup popped up and it displayed a monster cock. The IT teacher walked up behind me and just told me to turn that off and walked away again. Other kids were directly looking at porn when the teacher wasn't looking and noone made a big deal about it. If the teacher's screen would have flooded with porn popups we would have been laughing at it. I'm not from the USA so I don't get the whole obsession with trying to hide sex. I also received proper sexual education from the school, so I can't complain.
  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:06AM (#17590266) Journal
    By 2012, children in the US will be fully protected from sex. At birth, their genitals will be removed and stored on ice. The genitals will be reattached once the children have grown up and married. This will ensure that they learn about sex when they really need to. Any parents refusing to allow this process shall be brought before the elders who shall smite them sorely with stones until they be dead.
  • wrong purp! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MadCow42 ( 243108 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:17AM (#17590396) Homepage
    Why the fuck are they going after the teacher when they SHOULD be going after the Spyware writer/vendor??? Even if the teacher did get the spyware on the computer by visiting a porn site, that doesn't ruduce the culpability of the spyware company/individual in exposing the kids to porn. I'm assuming the teacher didn't visit porn sites WITH the kids (or in front of the kids) of course.

    So, fire the teacher for visiting porn in her off hours, and put the spyware guy in jail.

  • by Scooter's_dad ( 833628 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:09AM (#17590934)
    There's your problem. The person going to jail for 40 years should be the one who decided to let Windows into a classroom. Won't somebody think of the children!
  • what to expect next (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:16PM (#17591630) Homepage Journal
    Underage kid walks in on parents having sex. kid turns of age and sues parents.
    Parents claim they were making a little brother or sister for the youngster.
    Court upholds Kids side, claiming parents should lie to underage kids about how
    little brothers and sisters are made.

    So if you want to get a teacher busted and sent to jail, you now know how to do it.
    And only a fool would think kids today don't know about computers.

    Remember, santa and the easter bunny exist until you are old enough to be told the
    truth. What better way to prepair the next generation for believing the political,
    war monging and religious BS.

  • by Anne Honime ( 828246 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:43PM (#17591954)

    I read this story earlier on el reg, and since then I really feel sick for this teacher. Facing 40 years in jail for what appears to the most casual internet user as bad luck is so way out of reality touch it's totaly unbelievable.

    Her case desserves the world's attention and help ; I'm wondering wether it couldn't be brought to some NGO attention such as Amnesty international, for it looks like a violation of her human rights. This could help her finding a competent lawyer.

    I'm really upset a person's life can be shred to pieces that way, just to fulfill some obvious political ambitions.

  • No wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by godzilla808 ( 586045 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:23PM (#17592416) Journal
    there is a shortage of people willing to be teachers in many parts of the US!

    Here's the checklist of benefits of becoming a teacher:
    -Relatively low wages
    -Dealing with spoiled kids
    -Dealing with the parents of spoiled kids
    -Facing 40 years in prison because your school has an IT department consisting mostly of monkeys

    Where do I sign up?!

The absent ones are always at fault.