Friday, February 16, 2007

Modern Witchhunt Kills Fetus, Imprisons Mother

So today Connecticut officially is on probation as a State and if the March 2 sentencing phase of Julie Amero's wrongful conviction sends this innocent woman to jail, they need to just be expelled from the Union. Seriously. Imagine volunteering your time as a substitute teacher, retired after a career as an underpaid kindegarten teacher, during a high risk pregnancy, panicking when a trojan horse floods the classroom computer with porn pop-ups, getting arrested by the baying mob of local townspeople lead by an ethically-challenged detective (investigated for giving beer to minors on the job), locked up, slapped with charges that carry a 40 year sentence.

And then you miscarry the preciously wanted baby you and your husband have sought for years and endured a great deal of fertility treatments to conceive and cherish.

And then... you get found guilty because you didn't wear a burqah to work like a real modest woman and the judge for your trial is Sleeping Beauty. All because a few 7th-graders saw a still-frame of a blowjob for a couple of seconds before you physically pushed them away from the computer. Pretty much makes everyone else's spam story pale in comparison. The only way Conneticut can redeem itself at this point is if the prosecutor and the detective/"expert witness" are placed in stocks in the town square so that we may all go to boo.

Julie originally faced ten counts of "risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-21)....The statute punishes '[a]ny person who...unlawfully...permits any child under the age of 16 years to be placed in such a situation that...the morals of such child are likely to be impaired, or does any act likely to impair the...morals of any such child'." So at least 6 parents refused to join up in this witchhunt, leaving only those of the remaining 4 students. Why did she keep surfing after the second brief spat of pop-ups around 9 a.m.? Substitute teachers don't teach and aren't required to have teaching degrees; they babysit while students do worksheets or take tests. How could they jump into the middle of some else's lesson plans? They can't, so they don't. The teacher left the computer on so Julie could surf, so it was okay with the teacher who asked her to substitute! Why wasn't she wearing a burqah to shroud the computer? Women aren't forced to wear them in public in this country, and she wasn't wearing a sweater or coat either!

Why didn't she yank the cord? The tech answer is that you aren't supposed to do so:

There are significant forensic reasons not to simply unplug a misbehaving computer. Sure, the question now is whether there was malware, spyware, pop-ups, or possible a Trojan horse on the computer. But what if the computer was being actively attacked, through a Trojan or back-door? Turning off the CPU likely would prevent the tracking needed to find the source of the attack. Unplugging the computer, for example, would prevent the creation of certain registry entries that are created only when, for example, the browser is closed properly – such as the registry entry indicating what URLs were typed into the browser – an important evidentiary issue in this case.

Witchhunts spurn evidence; their purpose is to convict on any charge possible. What Connecticut doesn't want you to understand is that the porn pop-ups occurred as a result of links clicked before the start of class when students accessed the computer without permission while Julie was in the bathroom. Also that they appeared as the result of a malware called Pasco, which was likely picked up when the computer's user (the teacher?) accessed e-Harmony earlier that month. Also, the prosecution used a computer program called ComputerCop to examine the harddrive in question that can't tell if a site URL was typed into a computer, accessed via a link, or the result of malware, although the prosecution testified in the case that their program proved Julie had typed those several links from memory.

The judge reduced the defense's expert witness testimony to two single slides, showing what a legitamate website looks like, and what a psuedo-website that has been set up to infest a computer looks like. Please. If someone is making millions to fool surfers, a jury of people to stupid to get out of the duty isn't easy prey? Also, the prosecutor claimed the porn was visible "for hours" just for shock effect, when the pop-ups were visible for only a few minutes.

Defense witness W. Herbert Homer posted his complete analysis of the harddrive here, and all the testimony he wishes he could have given to save this innocent woman. His examination showed that the teacher logged on, surfed for a few minutes, and then Julie checked her AOL email. Around 0835, the computer access the psuedo-hairstyle site that activated the trojan horse program, that spat out a few porn pop-ups. The computer went inactive, showing that someone stoped the students (Julie). Then at 0920, the trojan horse activated another spat of porn pop-ups, and then activity ceased again. Homer was able to show that these were indeed pop-ups by the size of the images shown.

All of the jpg's that we looked at in the internet cache folders were of the 5, 6 and 15 kB size, very small images indeed. Normally, when a person goes to a pornographic website they are interested in the larger pictures of greater resolution and those jpgs would be at least 35 kB and larger. We found no evidence of where this kind of surfing was exercised on October 19, 2004

That the prosecution blocked the vast bulk of his testimony to sacrafice the truth in pursuit of a conviction to mollify the prudish parents (toting battery operated hedge clippers only their gardeners use because they've never even seen a real pitchfork) marks a witchhunt has occured. And. Its. 2007.

Julie's plight should matter to you, because another day, another time, another innocent click, and you'll face felony charges yourself. Nothing may save you and you may have no warning before just one pop-up makes you a criminal. Spyware is the dark boogyman of the explosive phenomenon of the internet, targeting 8 year-olds googling Barbie.

I have my own sob story. A visit to eHarmony to check out some guys, picked me up a trojan horse made by a company called "AffiliateTarget" using a search engine called "Gleaned." Which I had an IT friend puzzle out for me. I don't suggest attempting to access either of these companies websites... my blockers are just shutting down my browser each time I try so I can give you links. What happened to me? The software kicks in when you click on a link or send an email. It reroutes you to a flash advertisement for an online company (use your imagination, perverts!) and requires you to watch it or wait for it to download completely before it will give you an optional link to click out. It also apparently will just redirect you wholesale to another website and destroy your back-key link to wherever you were (I'm guessing for a higher fee). It also prevents you from using your copy key to copy an email or a blog to a word document before you sent. If it kicks in when you are sending email or posting a blog you loose everything. It even interrupted my webmail's spell checker, for frak's sake.

AffiliateTarget's website at the time had an email link that was broken, and only allowed you to "buy" the promotional software after proving you were a company. I contacted Gleaned who never responded. I contacted the BetterBusinessBureau in both Maryland and in Atlanta, Georgia where an online software reviewer Taming the Beast had given me the address for the company's owner. AffiliateTarget never responded, and failed to respond to the BBB, who then told me if the other party won't engage, they can't help you. A link so people don't think this is normal moonbat lunacy. And then it got much worse. IT told me that all I could do was wipe the computer and start over from scratch, and there was no way they were saving anything saved on it for me! $2500 of Gateway laptopiness now sits unuseable on my desk. At least I'm not behind bars.

Why does the law not protect us? Why aren't these sorts of malware and their creators prosecuted with the zeal shown for band students and toothless grandmothers downloading from Napster? They make money? They target people with content that causes immorality to be assumed by it's meer proximity? Prosecutors don't want to look into a television camera and say "penile enhancement?" I escaped once, but I don't kid myself, and my new laptop has 7 different malware programs that take 3 minutes searching my computer each time I turn it on. Who wants to be Julie, who could have accepted a probation plea that would have scrubbed her record but left her with the reputation as a pervert?

Who wants to end up in the good fight for the worst reason of all?

"I was sitting there looking at porno? I was sitting there pregnant," Amero says, before telling me too much about a private life publicly unraveled.

So why not just accept a probation offer that would have wiped her record clean?

"The baby," Amero, now 40, explains as we sit in her living room in rural Windham. She'd spent years trying to get pregnant before losing the child after her arrest.

Absolutely the worst reason. Protest! Like a lot. Cough up a benjamin. Right this frakking minute!! Before you end up lashed to the stake and watching that on coming match.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz from I Speak of Dreams.

I've contributed $50.00 to Julie Amero's legal defense fund

DrumsNWhistles will contribute $1.00 to Julie Amaro's legal defense fund for every comment left on her blog, at this post

Julie's PayPal account can be accessed through her blog:

1:51:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Godfrey said...

Hi, Olive. I did not check each of the links you provided, but one of the best on this has been Majikthise (Lindsay Beyerstein) - maybe you have been following her intense coverage of this.

Also, I am hosting a "Carnival of Maryland" over at my site this coming week, and would be grateful if you would consider contributing a new or old article on a Maryland topic of interest to you.

Best wishes for continued success w your blog! Bruce Godfrey/Crablaw

8:13:00 PM  
Blogger olive said...

Although DrumsNWhistles has capped the donations at $55, I will take up that call in equal measure. For each comment in this post I too will donate another $1 to the defense fund, and I will cap it the same at 55. Spam bots won't count, you must be human!! Cheers!!

1:03:00 PM  

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