This week, I’m going to bestow the honor of Idiot of the Week to a countless number of people who have ruined a Connecticut substitute teacher’s life. Among them, the parents of the students in her classroom, the administration of the middle school she was working at, the Norwich Police detective (pictured) who conducted a faulty investigation, the judge at her trial, the heartless prosecutor, the jury that found her guilty, many others who have propagated this travesty.
Some background: Julie Amero, a 40-year-old substitute teacher in Norwich, Connecticut, was looking over a class in October 2004. There was a computer at the front of the classroom. Poronographic material appeared on the screen while she was present in the room.
GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! She must clearly be guilty! She showed porn to children! That’s disgusting!
That’s the kneejerk reaction one might have without any of the facts of the case. So, here’s the evidence that essentially got ignored by the judge, the jury, and the so-called “prosecution expert” (a corrupt police detective who has no formal training in information technology, used the results of a computer scanning program that doesn’t detect spyware as evidence, and had previously been charged with misconduct for drinking on the job and creating his own pornography): the administrators did not have any anti-virus or anti-spyware protection on the school’s computers, which ran an old version of Windows and Internet Explorer. The “pornographic material” was a bevy of malicious pop-up ads. The more Amero closed the pop-up windows, the more the ads popped up.
I could go on, but even my computer-illiterate AARP-card-carrying father understands why she’s innocent, so I won’t waste my breath.
The prosecution claimed that she purposely pulled up these images and displayed them to her class. They said nothing about her mental state and emotional reaction once the images appeared, nor her efforts to turn the computer away from the classroom, nor the fact that students had been using the computer unsupervised at the time. They blocked a defense expert from testifying based on a clerical error, and they called no witnesses who were actually versed in information technology.
Unfortunately, that initial kneejerk reaction seems to be as deep as any of this week’s Idiots of the Week were willing to go during her trial. The only thing she did wrong was not turn off the computer – because she was told not to by school staff. That’s a mistake that’s not worth a night in jail, let alone the 40 years in prison she now faces. The case goes to sentencing later this month.
So, congratulations, Idiots of the Week! You ruined a woman’s good name, put her under stress that led to the miscarriage of her child, and reaffirmed the constant miscarriage of justice that takes place in American courts.
Oh, you also reaffirmed the fact that Connecticut sucks.
What, you thought I could get through that rant without mentioning my distaste for that state?
Idiot of the Week runner-up: Former Hampton Bays Elementary School Principal Andrew Albano, who fired a teacher because he thought she was a witch. No, seriously. I wish I was making that up. The American education system is brimming with idiots. And I’m not just talking about the students.