An article in the Boston Herald by Laurel J. Sweet entitled Probe shows kiddie porn rap was bogus is a sobering reminder of how certain accusations are as bad and worse than being found guilty of more pedestrian crimes.
Michael Fiola's ordeal within the justice system well documents what Julie Amero's and other's lives are like as they await her day of vindication.
The disastrous effect of rogue virues and malware on the lives of unsuspecting, innocent citizens across this country is incalculable. As you read this article, imagine a family member of yours getting caught up in a judicial system quick to punish, unwilling to seek out truth, and slow to absolve.
Nationally recognized computer forensic analyst Tami Loehrs told the Herald Michael Fiola’s ordeal was “one of the most horrific cases I’ve seen.”Citizens all over the country work on computers whose connections continue to be insecure due to expired anti-virus subscriptions or absence or lack of adequate anti-spyware and anti-malware software.
“As soon as you mention child pornography, everybody’s senses go out the window,” she said.
Loehrs, who spent a month dissecting the computer for the defense, explained in a 30-page report that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.
Two forensic examinations conducted by the state Attorney General’s Office for the prosecution concurred with that conclusion, Wark said.
Still, Fiola, 53, whose wife, Robin, described as “computer-illiterate,” wants his day in court. He intends to sue the DIA for “destroying our lives.”
“Our lives have been hell,” said Fiola, a former state park ranger now living in Rhode Island. “I hope to recover my reputation, but our friends all ran.”
“There is no evidence to support the claim that Michael Fiola was responsible for any of the pornographic activity,” she wrote.
All the porn, she said, was located in the laptop’s cache, a computer feature that stores copies of Web pages. Consistently, Loehrs’ findings noted, there was “no apparent origin or user interaction preceding the pornographic activity,” some of which was downloaded “fast and furious.”
Yet in far too many cases, employers, police, and crazed fellow citizens are quick to assume that the people accused of possessing unlawful images must be guilty of something far more nefarious no matter what the evidence, their peer relationship, or common sense might indicate to the contrary.
The combination of manufactured and magnified fear, a relentless and mindless moral extremism, and poorly drafted laws that eliminate common sense are creating an ethical nightmare that threatens the very rule of law and guarantee to a fair trial for those falsely accused.
The judicial branch of government needs to reassess the concept of possession and intent in the virtual realms where the transfer and location of data and content may be wholly co-incidental to anything a real person on a given computer is actually responsible for.
Julie Amero and Michael Fiola are just two very visible examples of the need for more sophisticated law and guidance in cyberspace criminal proceedings.