WELLS, Maine — Police issued a summons to a Wells High School student last week after he sent “sexual” emails from the account of a schoolmate without her knowledge, Lt. Jerry Congdon of the Wells Police Department said Tuesday.
“The schools provide laptops for the kids to use during various classes, and in this case, a student failed to log off her computer when she was done,” Congdon said. “Somebody else saw [the computer still logged in under the girl’s name], and he went in and started sending emails to different people. Of course it looked like the emails were coming from [the victim].”
Congdon said the content of the emails was “embarrassing” to the girl, and both she and her parents were upset by the ordeal.
“Some of it was pretty bad,” Congdon said of the emails. “A lot of sexual stuff.”
Police issued the juvenile, 17, a summons for criminal invasion of computer privacy at the high school on Feb. 12. It’s a Class D crime with a maximum punishment of up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
“It’s an invasion of privacy, but through a computer,” Congdon said. “It would be similar to opening someone’s mail and reading a private letter, but in this case, it’s someone who accessed accounts he was not authorized to get into.”
Congdon said the suspect in the case just found the laptop logged in under his schoolmate’s name, but “had to go a little further to get into her email.”
“That took some effort,” he said. “He admitted it, and he was charged accordingly.”
Congdon said the incident is a precautionary tale for computer users: People using public computers should always make sure to log off, and people who find computers logged in under the names of others should know it’s illegal to meddle.
“I think there’s a moral to this story somewhere,” he said.