http://www.mlive.com/news/bctimes/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news/1021648510270760.xml Friday, May 17, 2002 By Crystal Harmon TIMES WRITER A teen-age computer wizard has won his legal battle to get the label "hacker" removed from his school record, but now the label "eavesdropper" may be added to his criminal record. Nicholas J. Suchyta, 19, allegedly recorded his roommate and her boyfriend having sex and also beamed live broadcasts of the activities on the Internet early this year. The couple told police they had no idea that the five computers in the living room were rigged with a Web cam. Bay County District Judge Scott J. Newcombe arraigned Suchyta on two counts of installing eavesdropping devices and two counts of divulging information obtained by eavesdropping. Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and $2,000 in fines. Suchyta was released from the Bay County Jail on May 8 after posting a $5,000 bond. Suchyta had shared an apartment on North Hampton Road with an 18-year-old woman who said the two had been best friends since grade school. But she said she became concerned when acquaintances said they'd seen her having sex on the Internet with her 18-year-old boyfriend. She told police she found the recordings on one of the computers, but as she attempted to download the images for evidence, the computer was shut down, apparently from one of the two laptop computers she said Suchyta carries with him. On Feb. 2, police searched the apartment and found a camera hidden on top of one of the computers. With the help of a computer crimes expert, they also found four files containing images of the two teens having sex that apparently had been broadcast on the Internet. Bay City Police also found 14 modems that they determined had been taken from Charter Communications, where Suchyta had worked as a high-speed data technician. Suchyta, who now resides on South Euclid Avenue, declined to comment to The Times about the cases. Meanwhile, Suchyta and Bay City Public Schools have settled a civil suit Suchyta brought against school officials who disciplined him for downloading a "hacking" program. The program included instructions for capturing log-ins and passwords of system users. Suchyta was a co-op student who worked in the student records office and the computer lab, and helped make the transition from one type of system to the other. Staff turned to Suchyta for help with many computer glitches, and, Suchyta said, a secretary gave him the password to the student-record program so he could help her update vaccination records. Later a teacher reported seeing Suchyta browsing student records in class, according to testimony given during depositions for the lawsuit. Co-op supervisor Michael Kehrier said school officials warned Suchyta to stay away from sensitive material, but they allowed him to continue his work in the school computer lab. The district's technology director said he's reviewed security and made some changes. "No data is ever going to be 100-percent secure," John Strycker said this morning. "But a system is only going to be as secure as the user. People that are new to using technology - and in this district it's relatively new - might not understand that passwords are like keys and you don't just hand them out." In November 2000, according to depositions, a Central teacher was having trouble with his computer and school technicians ran a virus program, which found several files saved on Suchyta's hard drive. Suchyta claimed he was simply collecting such information to evaluate possible threats to the network, he said. Assistant Principal Jonathan Whan suspended Suchyta for five days in November 2000, fired him from his co-op job and kicked him out of advanced computer classes. In written memos, Whan classified Suchyta's actions as "hacking" the computer system. Suchyta and his parents, Richard and Shannan, sued the school and Whan for defamation of character, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and gross negligence. They also accuse school officials of failing to provide copies of computer data they requested under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. The Suchytas asked for more than $25,000 each. Their attorney, David Skinner, said Thursday that the settlement - forged with help of a mediator and yet to be approved by a judge - was amicable. He wouldn't comment on a monetary settlement, but acknowledged that the schools removed all records of the alleged "hacking" incident from Suchyta's permanent record. In the suit, Skinner described school officials' handling of the incident as "open and hostile." "The school district's agents accused a teen-age high school student of being a hacker, removed him from the classes found most interesting," the complaint reads. "The allegation that Nicholas is a hacker creates the presumption in the community that he committed a crime, that he is now a criminal." - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email email@example.com with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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