Friday, February 09, 2007

More Porn in the Amero Case!

Just when you think the Julie Amero case has safely resolved itself as being the strangest case of community madness since the Salem Witch trials, it... gets even stranger.

There is a mounting body of suspicion that the computers of the Middle School where Julie Amero substituted were routinely commandeered by students who were far more sophisticated than the teaching staff and administration. And schools dependent solely on the single computer sitting on the teacher's desk become the sole obsession of students dying to participate in virtual activities they so enjoy at home.

Reports are that a student in Julie Amero's class emailed someone saying that Amero was looking at pornography during class. Yet where could the message have been sent from? The teacher's computer was locked in a blizzard of images Julie couldn't control. So that leaves two possibilities. One that the email was sent before the incident or after. And , even more perplexing, the student sending it would have to be computer savvy enough to know she wasn't passing time but furiously trying to stop the phenomenon. This doesn't pass the sniff test, does it?

And all kinds of teachers at the school allowed students to use their computers for whatever activity. Keep in mind - no firewall, no anti-spam, not much of any protection on these machines.

This all sounds like reasonable doubt. In fact more than reasonable doubt. A teacher who is put in danger, say sailing on a sinking boat trying to bail water as fast as possible is hardly creating risk of injury to minors involved in the event - the teacher is at risk as well!

So this introduces the issue of good judgment on the part of the police, prosecutor, and judge. Last night I received an email that dismays me in a hundred ways. It involves Detective Lounsbury's own adventures with girls just a few years older than the students in Julie Amero's classroom.

About six years ago, Lounsbury, his partner were on a police "sting operation". And what sting operation would be complete without beer and young girls packed in the back of your police van?

This report from WTNH news tells the less salacious details of the evening's activities.
A Norwich police detective has admitted to drinking beer while driving a minor around the city on a sting targeting alcohol sales to underage drinkers.

That's according to a report in today's Day of New London newspaper.

Detective Mark Lounsbury, who drove the police van used in the undercover sting operation on November 30th made the admission last week to Deputy Chief Warren Mocek, the newspaper reported.

Mocek is overseeing an investigation into a misconduct complaint against Lounsbury and Lieutenant James Daigle.

A 20-year-old woman claims Daigle photographed her topless while she was working for the department in the same sting operation.

Apparently, Lounsbury and his partner were forgiven for contributing to the delinquency of minors, driving intoxicated, generating pornographic materials and whatnot. Reasonable doubt is not required when none exists.

So Lounsbury at about that time became the department's cyber-crime expert. The Department snatching the keys to the department's love van away from him and giving him what they thought might be less tempting material to work with.

I'm okay with that. People often make mistakes that are out of character, or panic, or use poor judgment and we all need to forgive each other.

But my disappointment in these new revelations is not that Detective Lounsbury is a flawed character but that he exercises such poor judgment when it comes to others far more innocent than he was. And in his case he was a middle-aged man in a position of power and authority taking advantage of young women who may have been intoxicated. Is he now taking advantage of a community that knows less than he does about computers? Sadly, it's an important question that requires some thoughtful contemplation on the part of the community.

All of us who are trying to establish Julie's innocence are dumbfounded by the absence of mature, reasonable adults in Norwich. The schools, the town, and the judiciary need an intervention of sensibility because this new revelation is the tip of an even larger set of complications.

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