Preston Gralla

Porn-surfing teacher: Spyware made me do it!

January 12, 2007 11:30 AM EST
A Connecticut substitute teacher was just found guilty of surfing for pornographic sites in front of a class of seventh graders, and faces up to 40 years in prison. Her outrageous defense, that spyware took control of her PC and she had no control over it, didn't cut it with the jury. It's good to see the justice system getting technology right for once.

The teacher, 40-year-old Julie Amero, visited numerous pornographic sites, with her students watching along with her, reports the Norwich Bulletin.

Amero claimed that she had only visited a hair styling site, which planted spyware on the PC. She told the court that the pornographic images then appeared in an endless loop on her PC. "The pop-ups never went away," Amero testified. "They were continuous."

But it wasn't just pop-ups students saw. Web sites were visited, noted the prosecutor, and the teacher clicked on links to pornographic images.

Not only that, the prosecutor wanted to know, but if in fact spyware was on the PC, why didn't the teacher merely turn off the computer or pull the plug on it?

Amero had no answer.

Lawyers have come up with some novel defenses over the years, including the "Twinkie defense" in which a lawyer argued that defendant Dan White's eating of Twinkies and drinking Coca-Cola proved that he was depressed, and so not responsible for his actions in murdering San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. The defense was partially successful; White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.

Luckily, it seems as if the spyware-made-me-do-it defense doesn't cut it in court. For once, justice prevails.

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Update:

Thanks everyone for their comments here; you've brought many facts to light that I hadn't known about. To see my latest thinking on the matter, check out my latest blog post, Was porn-surfing teacher wrongly found guilty?.