Man faces criminal charges for reading wife's e-mail

Prosecutors in Michigan use an ID theft statute to charge a man who allegedly used his wife's password to access her Gmail account.

How much do you know about your lover?

You know, things that they don't know you know, things that you happen to have read when they might have idly left their laptop open on their Gmail homepage.

Or do you, perhaps, know your lover's password and regularly check what they write about you? Do you worry, indeed, that they are unfaithful in body as well as in spirit?

I ask because some enterprising justice-seeking prosecutors in Michigan have decided to bring charges against a husband for reading his wife's e-mail.

Specifically, according to the Detroit Free Press, 33-year-old Leon Walker is charged with using his wife's Gmail password to read her most intimate messages.

It so happens, the paper said, that having gleaned her password from a book his wife kept next to her laptop, Walker learned she was having an affair with her previous husband.

Walker reportedly claims that the laptop was one he had bought for his wife and that it was a laptop he used regularly. In addition, he told the Free Press that, having discovered the affair, he was concerned for his wife's son from her first marriage. (Leon Walker is her third husband.)

What should remain private in a marriage? CC Epsos.de/Flickr

Clara Walker's second husband was reportedly arrested for beating her in front of her small son. So Leon Walker felt it right that the son's father should see the e-mails.

However, the Oakland County prosecutor, Jessica Cooper, believes Leon Walker is simply a cyberthief. She told the Free Press: "The guy is a hacker. It was password protected, he had wonderful skills and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way."

Cooper's feelings seem to have led her to use a Michigan statute that tends to cover ID theft or intellectual property. The Free Press reported that if he's convicted, Leon Walker could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

If you have ever enjoyed the queasy moment of discovering your lover has read your e-mails, you will be familiar with the feeling of having your very soul exposed to public view. You will also be familiar with the way your lover will undoubtedly misinterpret what is found, and accuse you of being not the person you were deemed to be.

However, perhaps you have never thought of taking your lover to court for having discovered, say, your cheery, confiding friendships with members of your target sex.

Should the prosecutors succeed, one might imagine a veritable flood of hurt feelings being tossed into the legal juicer and turned into prosecutorial consomme.

In the past, wives might discover strange phone numbers in their husbands' pockets. Husbands might rummage in an underwear drawer and find letters written to their wives by a strange, yet confident hand.

They got mad, they got divorced, but no one seemed to think a felony had been committed.

However, now that our whole lives are being recorded, perhaps our privacy on our e-mail accounts might become more precious than it has ever been on Facebook.

 

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