Could someone face prison time for snooping in a spouse’s e-mail? For Leon Walker of Michigan, the answer is yes.
Suspecting that his wife was involved with another man, Walker logged into Clara Walker’s Gmail account last summer.
Walker, 33, said it was easy for him to do because his wife kept the password in a book next to the computer.
Walker says he got confirmation of his suspicions, but he also got slapped with felony misuse of a computer charges and is facing up to five years in prison if he’s convicted.
This is Michigan’s first criminal prosecution for snooping in a spouse’s e-mail. So far two Michigan judges have refused to toss out the charges in the potentially precedent-setting case.
“It’s outrageous. It’s insane,” Walker, who is now divorced, told ABC News.
Prosecutors contend that Walker — who is a computer technician — illegally hacked into his wife’s computer after she had filed for a divorce, but Walker’s lawyer calls the prosecution’s claim an overzealous reach.
“People who live under the same roof, be they married or not, and who share a computer — as in this instance — they may have some personal privacy lines that they adhere to. And if they don’t, that’s between the two individuals,” defense attorney Leon Weiss said.
“The word ‘e-mail’ does not appear in this statute. This is an anti-hacking statute,” Weiss said. “It does not, in any way, shape or form, encompass reading somebody’s e-mail.”
Prosecutors scoff at defense claims that Walker is a victim.
“Apparently they are trying the case in the media because they are not doing so well in the courts,” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said in a statement.
Walker will face trial on Feb. 7.