Monday, November 28, 2011

Sexual abuse on College campuses, Internet Identity Theft Protection and a Few Silly Laws

Thanksgiving was really good. I had a great time hanging with the family. Of course between courses, we had a long discussion about the Penn State situation. Then just as the Penn State Drama begins to simmer down, (I will not rehash the last 250 or so comments, the most ever on this blog, just click the link above.) Syracuse University fires its long time Assistant Coach Bernie Fine. Now originally Syracuse put him on paid leave, but another person has come forward to announce he was molested by Fine and a tape of Fine's wife is offered where she admits she had sex with a the then 18 year old ball boy who claims Fine molested him until he was 28...,(really, 28? Okay that is going to provide some fodder for the defense.) This story is getting more sordid by the day, yet I am so very unimpressed with yet another major University refusing to let the legal system do its job and waiting before casting dispersions upon someone based on what so far appears to be fairly flimsy "facts." My big question is "How are these guys ever going to get a fair trial??"

OK onto another Scary College Professor story. This one involves Professor Grant D. Smith an eEngineering
Prof from Univ. of Utah who, while flying first class to Boston, takes out his laptop and begins to watch alleged Child Porn!! Fellow passengers in First Class take out their phones and take pictures of what he is watching, they then send those pics to a family member who then calls the cops to report Smith to the authorities, where he is arrested at Logan Airport. This ought to be interesting. There are like 10 crimes here. Smith possession of Child Porn, using a cell phone while in mid air (aren't you supposed to turn them off? I don't know any more I haven't flown in a long while but this article in Sunday's NY Times makes me think you still must power off.) Possession by the picture taker/witness, transmission in interstate commerce to the friend, the friends receipt and possession of child porn, his transmission to police of same. Interesting no?? Smith's defense team will not be allowed to have the photos to see if they are real or nor how they could have gotten on his laptop because the government restricts the access to these photos to include not allowing the defense to have them. Of course the Just-Us Dept. lawyers can have them anytime they want and send them where they want to "test them"etc.

So far it appears that the state is prosecuting, however I think this will soon be taken federal as the penalties for possession of child porn carry such harsh jail times that the possessor prosecuted by the feds, will face far more time than the person doing the molesting will as the molester only is prosecuted in state. Further proof that criminals have no lobby in Congress.
In this case, Smith faces an uphill battle given the photos taken, but then again, we should know not to jump the gun on these things. At least Univ of Utah has a sane approach. The Professor is placed on Admin. leave, until the case is completed, then if guilty he is fired. Seems reasonable, let the courts run their course then decide. Wish Penn State and Syracuse would have shown similar trust in the judicial system to let it do its job.
As for Smith, I would eschew the usual suspect criminal attorneys and get one that works significantly in Cyber-sex crimes. The area is becoming an important sub-specialty of Criminal Law and he will need that expertise to help him avoid a very VERY long jail term.

I remember sending my boys to college campuses in the summer to learn from the college coaches how to play soccer. We also sent them to scholastic camps at Northwestern, Princeton and to the World College in Italy to learn debate skills. I spoke to my sons about those experiences and about whether those were positive experiences. Both acknowledged they were. I asked about the relationships between the participants and the teachers and both said they saw nothing inappropriate, but that the opportunity for abuse is always there, especially in Summers on large campuses with few people around but with lots of buildings. I think if there is any fall out from these scandals, it has to be how parents are going to determine if they can trust the adults with whom they entrust their children. I have no answer, but I think we really need to look into the supervisory relationships, staffing, dorms, and other things before we send the kids into even the most prestigious opportunities.

In another Cyber/ Interent Crime related story, Yahoo provides us with the 25 dumbest passwords. If you use one of these passwords, you are either asking to get hacked or you are a moron. I mean really a password called "Password"? 123456? ABC123?? Who are you the Jackson 5??.

A strong password is made up of letters that do not spell out a word, and those letters should be a mix of Upper and lower case letters. Add some numbers and some signs ie: (!@!@#$#%$%^&). Hence Hb3%eI2* would be a fairly strong password. (Now PLEAASSSEEEE don't use that as a password...) Sigh...

Lastly I thought you would all get a kick from this story about how it is illegal to hail a cab for someone you aren't traveling with in NYC. It is a little known law but it provides a cop with probable cause to stop you and even if that PC escalates to search you. The law was aimed at the Squeggy men. There are some decent underpinnings to the law, but I think it lends itself to selective prosecution defenses. It might be a trite over-broad and vague too.

Anyway, flame away all you rush to judgment types out there. For those who have a few ideas on how to judge what camps and opportunities are safe for kids please leave a comment. For any one with ideas on Safety of Identity please share your knowledge.

Happy Thanksgiving.
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