Man charged with felony for reading wife’s emails

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Leon Walker of Rochester Hills, Michigan man is facing felony charges for reading emails on a computer that he shared with his wife.

Thirty-three-year-old Leon Walker used his wife’s password to get into her Gmail account and learned that she was having an affair, which he had suspected. Walker said he was trying to protect the couple’s children from neglect and calls the case a “miscarriage of justice.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper says the felony computer misuse charge is justified. “The guy is a hacker,” Cooper said in a voice mail response to the Detroit Free Press last week. “It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way.”

Privacy law writer Frederick Lane said the law typically is used to prosecute identity theft and stealing trade secrets. He says he questions if a wife can expect privacy on a computer she shares with her husband.

It’s going to be interesting because there are no clear legal answers here,” said Frederick Lane, a Vermont attorney and nationally recognized expert who has published five books on electronic privacy. The fact that the two still were living together, and that Leon Walker had routine access to the computer, may help him, Lane said.

A number of defense attorneys were surprised by the filing of the criminal charges. “What’s the difference between that and parents who get on their kids’ Facebook accounts?” attorney Deborah McKelvy said. “You’re going to have to start prosecuting a whole bunch of parents.”
If convicted Walker faces up to 5 years in prison.

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