Preston Gralla

Was porn-surfing teacher wrongly found guilty?

January 15, 2007 8:46 PM EST
I wrote last week about a teacher found guilty of surfing porn sites in the front of a class of seventh graders -- and I said that justice was served. But based on the many dozens of comments I got, it looks as if I may have been wrong, and her PC may have been infested with spyware. If that's true, she was railroaded, and she should not have been found guilty.

First a recap of the facts: A Connecticut substitute teacher was found guilty of surfing for pornographic sites in front of a class of seventh graders. Her defense was that spyware took control of her PC, but the jury didn't believe her. She faces up to 40 years in prison, although as a practical matter, she won't serve anywhere near that amount of time.

I wrote in my blog that her defense was outrageous
and that justice was served.

More than four dozen people commented on my blog that my comments, and her conviction, were what was really outrageous in the case. If the facts as they report them are true, then they're right, and I was clearly wrong.

Among the people who said I was wrong was Alex Eckelberry, President of the security software company Sunbelt Software, who said that the facts the teacher reported were perfectly in keeping with a spyware infestation, and that "Every available piece of evidence known to the public indicates that that Ms. Amero is quite likely innocent of the charges."

In fact, he claimed that the PC was never even scanned for spyware.

Dozens of others backed him, including several who have been victimized by spyware themselves, and said what happened to the teacher was precisely what happened to them.

One person claimed that the school system had a subscription to a filtering service that should have stopped any visits to pornographic sites, but had let the subscription lapse.

If that's true, the school system, not the teacher, should have been culpable.

I can't say that I know the truth in this case, because I haven't personally seen the teacher's PC. But if in fact it was infested with spyware, as people say, and if the school system let the site filtering lapse, then what happened is a miscarriage of justice. And if that's the case, I clearly wrote my blog before knowing the facts, and was flat-out wrong.