Man Faces Prison for Reading His Wife's E-Mails
Last year, Walker reportedly hacked into his wife's Gmail account, using a laptop that the couple shared. He then found out that his wife, Clara, was having an affair with her second husband, who previously had been arrested for beating the woman in front of her child. Leon forwarded the mail to the child's father (Clara's first husband), for fear that more domestic violence could ensue. The father quickly filed an emergency motion to obtain custody of the kid -- and Clara quickly filed a lawsuit against Leon.
Clara's case rests upon a Michigan statute normally used to prosecute crimes like identity or intellectual property theft. The law expressly forbids people from accessing protected computer networks "intentionally and without authorization," which, according to Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, is exactly what Leon did, when he read his wife's e-mails. "The guy is a hacker," Cooper told the Detroit Free Press. "It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way."
Others, however, aren't entirely convinced that the statute can be applied to this domestic case. "I've been a defense attorney for 34 years and I've never seen anything like this," said defense attorney Leon Weiss. "This is a hacking statute, the kind of statute they use if you try to break into a government system or private business for some nefarious purpose. It's to protect against identity fraud, to keep somebody from taking somebody's intellectual property or trade secrets."
It may even be difficult to call Leon's surveillance "hacking." Clara insists that the computer belonged to her, even though Leon purchased it. In a recent interview with the Free Press, though, Leon claimed that the two shared the laptop as a "family computer," and that his spouse kept all her passwords written in a book next to the device.
The recently divorced couple will head to court on February 7th, where a jury will settle their squabble. If convicted, Leon could face up to five years in prison. But the 33-year old seems confident that he did the right thing by sharing his wife's private e-mails. "I was doing what I had to do," he said. "We're talking about putting a child in danger."