Autistic computer science student arrested for internet crimes

Autistic computer science student arrested for internet crimes

Mental health issues are always a difficult subject in the area of the law and justice. On the one hand, when a person causes pain or discomfort to another person, the victimized party deserves some sort of recompense. On the other hand, however, is the sense that the accused criminal does not quite fully understand the consequences of his or her actions. It is the work of attorneys and judges to sort these issues out in a court of law.

In a case that recently caught national headlines, a 19-year-old college student was recently arrested for various Internet crimes he allegedly committed against a number of women nationwide. The man is accused of hacking into a woman’s webcam and surreptitiously taking photos while the woman was changing clothes. Police say he then attempted to blackmail the woman, saying he would release the images if the woman didn’t send more.

A six-month FBI investigation eventually resulted in the arrest of the 19-year-old computer science student. Police say he attempted to blackmail several different women and had at one point hacked over 150 computers. The man confessed to his actions following his arrest.

According to his attorney, the boy is autistic, and therefore, may feel an unusual lack of empathy for the women whose laptops he hacked. His family has expressed regret for his actions.

When dealing with mental health issues, courts should strive to do what is most appropriate based on the given circumstances. Often, the normal punishment or penalty would not serve any corrective purpose; in such cases, the result should be carefully tailored to suit the particular situation.

Source: CNN, “Arrest made in Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf ‘sextortion’ case” Greg Botelho, Sep. 27, 2013

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