Sunday, November 23, 2008

It’s Over – All Most

On November 21, 2008, with bright blue sky’s over head and a cold November wind in our face, Julie and I walked into the empty courtroom at the Norwich Superior court building. Julie looked around the room and remarked, "This is where it all started". It was dejavu on a level I had never experienced before, and immediately, I could feel the pain that Julie was going through. How we came to this place in our lives was so intense and over whelming that it took my breath away.
The four plus years we have been battling this case passed in the wink of Julies eye as she walked up to the waiting Willy Dow who was standing before the judge. The pain was clearly in her face as she listened quietly to the prosecutor regurgitate the now defunct misinformation he presented at her original trial. She stood tall, proud and unashamed as the prosecutor took his final shots and sliced away the pound of flesh that the state demanded to end this horrible ordeal. In the ten minutes it took for it to be over, I could do nothing but sit there, watch and listen to the defense and prosecution, proclaim that each was ready to retry the case. In the end it was the judge who asserted that picking the scab of an old wound was counter productive. In that moment, I felt a certain degree of exoneration for Julie. The arguments stopped, the judge passed on the final details of a One Hundred dollar fine and revocation of Julies teaching rights, and as quickly as that, it was over.
As Julie turned to leave, I could see the mixed emotions on her face. Nothing could give her back the last four years of her life, our lost child, the sleepless nights, the indignity and insult of the charges or her health. But yet there it was, a slight but very distinguishing smile. It was finally over.
Julie and I would like to thank the literally thousands of people who came to Julie’s defense with positive words of encouragement and donations of time and money. Without all of which, it is doubtful that Julie would be a free woman now.
The life we knew and loved is over. Now is a time of rebuilding and redefinition. Hopefully when we look back, we’ll still see the same positive encouragement we have come to know and love from all of you.


God Bless and Happy Holidays
Wes & Julie

47 comments:

Ariel said...

I just read about this story off of a Livejournal community. I am just agog at what Julie has been put through. The story they are sell is laughable. I work tech support. Anyone who has ever gotten an pop-up ad wasn't trying to do it on purpose, and you can get spyware very easily on an un-secure computer. But apparently the school isn't interested in facts but in a scapegoat. I hope there is some comfort in the fact that most people are on your side and think that this whole trial is a travesty.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe what I read of this case. As a security researcher for almost 10yrs now, during which I have helped prosecute *actual* computer pornographers, I am disgusted that these charges were ever brought against you. Law enforcement is clueless to computer crimes, it is a complete travesty that you have had to suffer because of it.

My heart goes out to you and I wish you good luck in putting this behind you quickly.

Anonymous said...

I hope Julie knows she deserves the opposite of a hideous fine and loss of her credentials. The school district OWES her money for all of this trouble, not to mention 4 years of her life back.

It's absolutely terrifying that this can happen in our justice system.

Anonymous said...

As a combat veteran and citizen of the United States I am disgusted with Detective Mark Lounsbury and the way in which you were persecuted. This makes me sick. The prosecutor's office and the police department should be held accountable. Lousbury should not be working in law enforcement. He should be on the other side of the bars.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that this is over, but you deserve better. You deserve to be compensated for the years of work you missed, the health problems you've dealt with, and the emotional hardship that this insane situation has created.

When will the law resort to common sense again? Does anyone truly believe that those children were really emotionally scared over a few inappropriate pop-ups? My guess is most of those kids had stumbled upon similar pop-ups on their own home computers, or at the very least, play violent video games on a regular basis.

Even so, that's beside the point. Best of luck to you in all that you do in your life. Hopefully you find yourself happy, healthy, and surrounded by a community of COMMON SENSE sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching this closely and am disgusted that the judge and prosecutor still needed what you describe as their final pound of flesh. I hope a movie is made about this. People in this country should know how dangerous the justice system is. Of course, I'd love to see the idiots who prosecuted and investigated your wife be on the hot seat and have their lives ruined in the end. Now that would be justice in this case! The fact that your wife had to plead guilty at all and on top of that give up her teaching career --- HOW DARE THEY!

Anonymous said...

So proud of both of you for staying strong and keeping us updated. This case has been on my mind since the media first released it. For what it's worth, I wrote the Governor and contributed to your legal fees. I admire your determination to adapt and move forward.

Anonymous said...

Wes and Julie: Xeni Jardin from Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and Boing Boing tv (tv.boingboing.net) here. We're trying to reach you for a report we're planning next week around this case. My email is xeni@xeni.net, and I'd be very grateful if you wouldn't mind contacting me, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to reach you directly to see if you'd be willing to speak with us. Here's a post we ran today about the case: http://bit.ly/nksW

What happened to you is shameful and sad.

Xeni Jardin
co-editor
Boing Boing (boingboing.net)

Marty In Boise said...

I hope that you will pursue a full pardon through the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole. You may want to contact the nonprofit Connecticut Pardon Team; their website is http://www.connecticutpardonteam.com/

For that matter, now that we have elected a President who actually knows a thing or two about computers, perhaps a pardon could come from that direction.

Anonymous said...

Please please please sue the school district and the police for all they're worth.

Meandering Mandler said...

I just read about this on gizmodo.com, everyone giving feedback on the article on there is very sympathetic to you. For whatever its worth, I'm glad to hear this is over for you. I'm so sorry that the system worked against you. Its not fair at all that you were made an example of--this should have never even gone to court. I'm so so sorry to hear about all this. With sincere, heartfelt respect and understanding, Chandler

Injustice said...

Marty in Boise
I visited the site you suggested. What struck me was the sign in front of the building. It's located in Norwich, Ct. The very city that persecuted her. How much luck do you think Julie is going to have there with a pardon ?

wes

Michael in Tacoma WA said...

I am so sorry for what you have been subjected to by the small minded people of your school district and court system. I am also sorry for you losing your teachers credentials. I wish you had won and sued them for all they have done to you.

The victim was you.

David said...

I came across your story today and found it outraging what the court system did to you and your family. You have my deepest condolences. I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

And I've been told this is the land of the free. Cases like these boggles the mind how incredibly stupid and selfish how some people can be. My deepest condolence on the ordeal, and although it is far from a happy outcome, I'm glad at least it is behind Ms. Amero.

Anonymous said...

I wish you were our Spanish sub.

Matthew said...

I'm glad you no longer have the cloud of a possible prosecution hanging over you.
I read http://www.networkperformancedaily.com/2007/01/the_strange_case_of_ms_julie_a_1.html where Mr Horner outlines the testimony the judge prevented him from presenting. Based on that information, it's clear that Julie was innocent. It's too bad that there was no court decision to send a message about what an inappropriate prosecution this was.

Anonymous said...

Let's just hope there is something in store for the corrupt people who helped in the prosecution of this poor woman.

Marcia said...

Glad to hear that this nightmare is almost completely over, in spite of the fact of all that has been lost in the 4+ years that you have suffered. However, I do feel that the ended punishment may seem not as harsh as what could’ve been, but in my opinion perhaps it may be worse. Having been a student of an Amero in the past (LMS, 1999-2000 school year. I was in 7th grade then), and knowing the way that she had a compassion for teaching, and if Julie’s anything like her, the current punishment is much worse than what could’ve been.
As said by previous comments, I feel that the true victim in the situation is Julie. Sure the school system may have suffered the loss financially, and of a great substitute teacher-but Julie has lost much more than just money in the last 4+ years.
And I do think Julie may have a chance at getting a pardon, as Marty in Boise suggested, this way it will force the school district to fess up to their inconceivable mistake against her. After all, it was the SCHOOL’s Mistake for not checking out their older computers before hand, not Julie’s. And all of the computer experts that were put on the defense’s case have proven that true.
Best of luck, and have a great holiday season.

Marcia said...

And FYI-there is a facebook group that has poped up about this titled
"Julie Amero is Innocent"
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=2245966016&ref=ts

Jeff in Cambridge said...

Ugh, they took away your teaching license. That's terrible in this economic environment. Let us know if you still need any help or support.

I'm sure you're glad to be done with this and don't want to think about it again. But I'd really love to see them pay (via a civil lawsuit) for all the pain, suffering, and lost wages you had to go through.

Braqua said...

I don't have much more to contribute than has already been said by hundreds and thousands of comments, but I just wanted to wish you all the best, and I seriously hope you can either put this behind you and let it go, or turn around and get more of media's attention on this, write to state representatives or whatever is available for you. This is a horrible and discusting case heavily reaking of a witch-hunt, and is truly a dark spot for the judicial system in 2008. I can only pray and sincerely hope that some sort of uppance will come to those involved in covering up the evidence and ignoring the voice of the community posessing the knowledge to turn the case in you favour. Shame on them all, shame on them.

All the best,
Per-Arne Hoff
Network & Security Administrator
Bergen kommune, Norway.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Amero,
In addition to proving your innocence, computer forensic analysis could have determined the source, type, method, date and time of infection as well as the logged on user at the time that the infection occurred.

Were statements obtained from Mr. Napp ("who was logged on when you arrived") or the students ("who were using the pc to view hair sites when you returned from the restroom")?

You deserve full vindication, monetary compensation and a formal public apology.

There is a rapidly growing ground-swell of support for you as more people become aware of your plight.

Please give consideration to pursuing nothing less than full vindication.

Best wishes,
M. Sanders
Syscon Forensics
USA

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say - thank you for being so unbelievably courageous. Hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving. You deserve it. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Dear Julie,

I was horrified to hear of your case years ago (and I contributed to your defense fund). Have you thought of getting a Presidential pardon from either President Bush or (in 2 months) President Obama? If anyone deserves one, it's you!!!

Jim said...

Dear Julie,

They had no right to "plead you" out of your license and to fine you. Where is that useless "American Civil Liberties Union" in this case? You have been ripped off. The true perpetrators of this travesty, the school officials, have not been punished at all, have they? You should sue in civil court for millions!

Anonymous said...

Time to leave the country the US had become a Police State

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful your nightmare has ended. Hopefully, there will be a counterbalance of positive in your lives.

Your case was so obviously inadvertant that only people who lack technical understanding about computers and how the Internet works would blame you.

The school district should have had protection for students accessing the Internet. Or at least the humbleness to accept what the experts said about the extreme vulnerability of their computers!

When I first heard about your situation, I emailed a friend who is a columnist on technology for the LA Times/Washington Times. I don't know if he looked into it or commented on it.

Again, I'm glad your ordeal is over. Best wishes for future blessings. -Austin

Anonymous said...

I can understand why you wanted this to be over with and I support you and your husband wholeheartedly. Many of us blogged hours, days and nights to make sure this case was kept in the forefront. I only wish now that that the school administration, Lounsbury, the prosecutor be investigated and brought to justice for what they did to you. It was and is wrong.....god forbid this should happen to anyone else. We all wish you luck and happiness in the future. Many of us wish a movie to be made so that everyone is made of aware of the injustice and corruption of this case. Take care, peace and health be with you.
pjwils

Eric said...

Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge and giving up her teaching license is a very unsatisfying conclusion to this case. I believe several things have to happen for there to be proper justice for Julie:

1. A pardon from the Governor of Connecticut and full restoration of Julie's teaching rights.

2. Removal of the New London County District Attorney from office. I know this can be done by ballot referendum in California; is it possible in Connecticut? If not, in the next election the voters of New London County should vote the DA out of office for his reprehensible handling of this case. Even after it became clear that Julie did not intentionally do what she was accused of, the state refused to let go of her, condemning her to almost a year and a half of legal limbo.

3. The State of Connecticut should compensate Julie for pain and suffering. She lost a baby and her health has been harmed, perhaps permanently. I'm not a big fan of this kind of litigation, but in Julie's case there was deliberate malice by the state.

4. Concepts of morality in America really need to change. Why is it considered such a heinous crime for kids to be momentarily exposed to some tiny pop-up porn images? Can anyone prove that any of the children in Julie's class were harmed in any way by seeing the images? I seriously doubt it. And yet, Julie was being crucified as if she were a child molester! To me, this case wasn't about malware or computer illiteracy or failure to turn off the computer when the porn images kept popping up. This case was more about the total hysteria that erupts in America when "sex" and "children" come within a light year of each other. The witch hunts go on, 316 years after Salem.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Amero,
you were unjustly targeted and you should apply for an Expungement/Provisional pardon to take this off your record. You should contact the Connecticut Pardon Team,inc There are so many people who go throughlife with a record the stops them from the full potential of living. So, take a breather and then start taking youe life back. Don't let an unjust decision dictate your dreams. As Marty from Boise suggested, Contact them. the lady who runs it is very understanding

Anonymous said...

There is really nothing to be said that has not already been said about this. Anyone who has used a computer for any length of time knows that Julie is not guilty of anything criminal. She had only just started learning about how the computer works, and could not have known any better what to do in this situation.

I once recieved a call from my mother about two or three years ago. She has what I would call "moderate" knowledge of computers for a woman of her age, 50. She knows how to look things up on google, write a text document, and look at the email in outlook. She had opened an email from a person with a name she did not recognize, and was curious why "Amy" was "sending her the hot pics from the weekend". She didn't know anyone named Amy...and what pics were she talking about? My mother decided to investigate. Of course, a torrent of pop-ups, much, much worse than what was apparently shown in Julie's case, appeared all over the screen. Closing one opened two more. In a shrill and paniced voice, my mother asked me what to do, worried she would get a virus or have the FBI show up at her house for looking at pornography. Since I was not there, and taking time to explain how to close all of the explorer windows at once would take too long, all I could do was have her hit the reboot switch.

My deepest sympathies to you, Julie, whose life has been substantially changed in a negative way by a judicial system filled with people who have no idea what they are talking about, and by prosecutors who do not care about humans or common sense.

Anonymous said...

[Letter from India]

Hello,

I'm very sorry to hear the pain that you were made to undergo.
I know what it's like to be arrested or be marked as guilty
without any wrongdoing as I'm a victim of such genre.

I'm from India and the situation with the police or the judicial
system is more or less the same almost everywhere. Draconian laws
like 498A and Domestic Violence that're completely biased and
which pronounce the accused to be guilty until proven innocent
are being misused heavily due to which many families including
those of me (me, my father, mother and sister who're booked under
the idiotic law) are suffering a lot.

May GOD give you the strength to move forward.
And, may the righteous be protected.

Regards.

Berlin Brown said...

Hello, I just started looking at this, tonight. I am amazed. I am a web developer, in IT and just looking at the laughable case against you. It is funny and not funny all that the same time. The prosecutor talked about 'injury'. Injury how? I just hope that you get your due justice, by filing some form of grievance against the school, the state, possibly even some of the software companies that were involved. The web filtering software, etc, etc.

But here are a couple of a questions I had. I am not a lawyer and not a web security person.

First, just on that point alone. Why wasn't a 'web' security person brought in as a witness. The information manager had worked on mainframes in the 60s and 70s. Mainframes aren't PCs. He is not an expert on web security. Or web development.

This a damming piece of testimony and completely false. I can put this together in 10 minutes with javascript. And I have been a victim of this before.

"Q Is it possible to click on an innocent link that can take you to a porn site?
A The names of sites don't need to bear any relationship to their content. Something that did appear innocent could be a porn site.
Q Thank you. Is it possible to be in an endless loop of pornography?
A I've never seen that, so I would have to say probably not. "

Also, in 2004, for a so called computer expert...working on win95, win98 machines to not have experience with adware, viruses is beyond me.

---------------

Second point. Am I wrong, or was the defense attorney not aggressive enough. I know this is all in the past tense, but he didn't quiz the computer expert on popups and malicious software that might be running on that machine.

He also didn't seem to present how you had gone to other adults to get the popups and pornagraphy to stop coming up.

It just seemed completely unfair.

Another question, lets say the kids were presented pornagraphy. Is that the charge? I thought the charge was injury to minors. Does that automatically equate to injury.

I am just baffled by this case and I hope that you set the court system in Conn accountable for this injustice.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just learned about this case for the first time today. I cannot believe the stupidity of the school administration, the police, the prosecuting lawyer or the judge. Wow!

My condolenses for all Julie and her family must have been through. What an obvious abuse of authority by so many.

Aaron said...

Let's be honest: the prosecutor didn't deliver 'misinformation' to the court -- he delivered disinformation.

Your case is an example of how a prosecutor, with the unlimited resources of the government at his back, can target any innocent citizen for destruction on a whim. And he can do so with no punishment or consequences accruing to him -- aside from his ability to boast of "protecting children".

Anonymous said...

Julie, i am deeply sorry for what you had bear. So many morons out there. This detective should be but behind bars immediatly without any pardon.

Hope you are feeling better, and that you keep up your hope.

Pether / Sweden

Anonymous said...

I too have followed your case, as I have been going through a situation myself. I am saddened that the scape goats are allowed in our schools. There should never be a scape goat, used to cover up a schools inadequacies. Anything to save face. Let go of and terminate, ruin the carreer, scape goat this person because they are expendable. We will loose less. Subs, untenured teachers and anyone who is there 90days or less can be destroyed. For what to cover up a wrong that someone else did. We scape goats are lucky, because we have our families who love us. But try to put food on the table when you are unable to get any kind of job because of this kind of stuff. No one should have thier name be a scarlet letter. What ever happened to live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Does this not apply to scape goats? Keep telling your story. Let the world know how corrupt our schools are. Happens all the time. Most of the time it is done quietly, as no one should know we have dirty laundry in our schools. It is not PC ya know.

eric in wallingford said...

So im watching channel 8 at the moment,saw your story...crazy!Who the hell is this "so-called"blogging about you.This man should be fired,like he has no life,nothing better to do...umm,sounds like police harassment to me,

Anonymous said...

I just heard about your story today and I can't imagine the hell you have gone though. Please know that there are lots of people who support you, myself included, and I pray that one day you are able to move past this horrible ordeal and live happier. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Julie,

after a while, I typed your name into google again and found this blog. Some time has passed, since I tried to help you by setting up a little web page and spamming all my contacts about your case. As a computer expert, I had a real hard time trying to believe, what was going on. Such a case would be simply impossible in my country.

I am glad, that you finally got free, but the overall outcome is truly unsatisfying. I wish you and your family luck, love and light!

Sincerely Yours,
A nerd from Vienna, Austria

PS.: I'd be interested, how many people tried to help you over the whole period of time, how many related web sites you have seen, a.s.o.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I worked with the Department of Energy once and misspelled some common web site, like Yahoo or Google and all these porn pop ups came up, there was no way to stop it except to unplug the computer. I was freaked out a little bit, since our computers are monitored, but knew it wasnt a problem cause I didnt have anything to do with it. I joked with my compadres for a bit saying 'yeah maybe I'll get fired', knowing it was impossible. Not such a joke to Julie apparently...Unbelievable that she was charged...much less convicted. I am so sorry for the amazing ignorance of the system that put you through it all!

Anonymous said...

I would be curious to get an update on your case. Have the detective and the prosecutor been jailed yet? Have you been granted a pardon and has your license been re-instated? Have you been compensated for your losses?
More than 10 years ago, I needed to construct a Business Model for my company. Naturally, I scoured the internet, using the search term "Business Model". The results were just unbelievable. Fortunately, I was able to explain to our company watchdogs, that while I "actively" looked for "Models", my intent was perfectly legitimate. In other words: ending up at a "bad" website can happen to anyone - that's just the nature of the internet.

Anonymous said...

Julie I am a computer teacher, and in the days of bad firewalls this type of thing happened to all tech people.

I really feel that you were singled out, I am so sorry for the loss of your baby. I hope that if you have the strength that you fight to clear your name.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher, and in consequence of your sad experience I will NEVER lead the students to the computer room.....

Anonymous said...

I have been in the technology business now for 15 years. I cannot believe that the prosecution had the nerve to go after you with this so called "expert witness". This reminds me of another egregious case where prosecutor Mike Nifong railroaded the Duke Lacrosse players.

I believe that all prosecutors like this should experience the public humiliation that Nifong did. Justice cannot be served by those that would use those kind of tactics.

While I pray for a Nifong like farewell for your prosecutor... I also wish your family the best.

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