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Teacher's Pop-Up Porn Nightmare Ends, Sort Of

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Blogger, Karoli brought to my attention the horrific nightmare experienced by a Connecticut woman named Julie Amero.

Four years ago, while pregnant, Ms. Amero went to work one day as a substitute teacher and left with felony charges against her.

Her crime?

Julie Amero was convicted of four felony counts, each count carrying a maximum of ten years, for exposing school children to pornography.

The reality is that Julie, a 40 year–old, pregnant substitute teacher, found herself in a storm of popups and didn’t have any idea as to what was going on, or how to fix the situation.

Yes, you read that correctly. A school computer (which evidently hadn't been updated with anti-virus protection by network administrators in months) suddenly started showing lewd pop-up pornography ads in a classroom full of seventh graders. The substitute teacher didn't know what to do to make them stop, so she was led away in handcuffs and convicted of felony charges carrying a maximum sentence of forty years in prison.

And this is not even to mention that after her very public arrest, the pregnant teacher suffered a miscarriage. Subsequently, Ms. Amero has been hospitalized because of declining health due to stress.

In March 2008 a $2,400 ad appeared in the Hartford Courant which was signed by 28 computer science professors arguing that Ms. Amero could not have controlled the pornographic pop-ups. Trial Detective Mark Lounsbury never checked for the presence of malware.

A number of computer security experts, led by software developer and blogger, Alex Eckelberry noticed serious technical errors were made throughout her trial. Mr. Eckelberry brought together a group of forensic investigators who volunteered to analyze the computer hard drive she was using in the classroom that day and published a report on their findings.

The group's report ultimately caused Julie's conviction to be overturned. Judge Hillary Strackbein overturned the unjust verdict in 2007 and ordered a new trial because of erroneous and false information given during the initial trial.

At that point, when New London County State's Attorney Michael Regan learned his entire case was flawed and Ms. Amero was innocent, he had the power to drop the charges against her. But no, he and the group of computer illiterates who pushed the charges in the first place still pursued a new trial.

The case was pending until November 7th, 2008 -- when he finally forced her to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor, surrender her teaching certificate, and pay a $100 fine -- or face another trial.

Perhaps shows like CSI and others have given us a false sense of security that our public officials have any sort of tech savvy skills whatsoever. Apparently not so in Norwich, Connecticut.

And to top it off, unrepentant prosecutor Michael Regan's view after the fact:

"I have no regrets. Things took a course that was unplanned. Unfortunately the computer wasn't examined properly by the Norwich police," Regan said.

The truth is in fact, he ruined a woman's life over a computer virus. Prosectuor Michael Regan literally took Julie Amero's career from her, took her health, took her right to justice. All presumably to make an example of her, and a name for himself.

Mr. Regan forcing her to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge to stop his relentless harassment of false charges is a ludicrous excuse for "justice."

Not that Michael Regan knows or cares what search engine rankings are, but, hopefully when the name Michael Regan of Norwich Connecticut is searched in the future, Michael Regan's Google profile will reflect exactly what Michael Regan fought so hard for: to make a name for Michael Regan. Heaven knows his pursuit had nothing to due with the rule of law.