Michigan man could serve 5 years for reading wife's email
December 28th, 2010
07:42 PM ET

Michigan man could serve 5 years for reading wife's email

For a Michigan man, reading his then-wife's email account was not only eye-opening, it may be criminal, according to prosecutors in Oakland County, Michigan.

Leon Walker, 33, is charged with a felony after accessing his spouse's Gmail account, according to the Detroit Free Press.

While the case may seem like a legal gray area, prosecutors are going after Walker based on a Michigan statute usually used in identify theft cases, the Free Press reported.

"This is one of those cases where it seems the facts aren't in dispute," John R. Levine, an expert on cybersecurity and co-author of  "Internet Security for Dummies," told CNN Tuesday.

"To make this stick, the prosecutor is going to have to go into court and find out what’s valid authorization between a husband and wife," he said. "What did the couple do on the computer? Did they have a habit of looking at each other’s email?"

Walker, his then-wife's third husband, found out his spouse was cheating on him with her second husband, the Free Press reported. Walker also found out that the man had been arrested for assaulting her in front of her son, the Free Press reported.

He then sent the emails to his wife's first husband, the father of the child, and that's when things got even more hairy, the newspaper reported.

After the first husband filed for emergency custody, Walker's wife learned he had supplied her first husband with the emails, which led to Walker's eventual arrest, according to the Free Press.

Walker could face five years in prison, the paper said.

"I was doing what I had to do," Walker, a computer technician, told the Free Press. Prosecutors say what he did was insidious.

"The guy's a hacker," Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper told the Free Press. "[The email account] was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way," Cooper is quoted as saying.

The case may not have legal ramifications for parents who snoop on their kids' Facebook or email accounts, but it raises another issue, Levine said.

"It’s entirely possible to say it’s unethical and immoral to read your wife’s e-mail, but the issue here is whether this [case] is inserting government into your bedroom," Levine said.

Walker is due in court February 7 for a trial, according to the Free Press.

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Filed under: Google • Michigan • Security breaches
soundoff (475 Responses)
  1. ralph marlow

    She don't deserve a marriage to begin with. The computer belongs to both of them. The marriage has no secrets. Life would be most miserable if my wife and I kept secrets from each other. She can drive my truck and I can drive her car as we SHARE everything, we open each others mail depending which of us is at home. We tell each other what we do.
    We have a marriage till death do us part. Yes a REAL marriage. If you can't trust your spouse you have no marriage.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Scott

    I've been in the same situation and did the same thing as this husband. And to best honest, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The wife's behavior was a direct threat to the welfare and well-being of Walker's family. Furthermore, it was her selfish and egregious behavior that started the entire sequence of events. In my opinion, his reaction was warranted and justified. The husband was doing what he felt was in the best interest of his family. Unfortunately, the Prosecutor is a moron for having allowed this matter to escalate to its current state.

    Finally, the husband no more hacked her email then if he opened a piece of mail addressed to her. They were MARRIED. They lived in the same household. She was unfaithful and her actions were exposed. Too bad he can't sue her for breach of the marital contract.

    January 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. kelly

    This is a case that brings to attention the need to address privacy laws. My soon to be ex has harrassed me taped all my home phone conversations without my knowledge , hacked into every e-mail and facebook account goes thru every pants pocket coat pocket purse drawers. I have been emotionally abused by his non-stop texts and e-mails. I have the CIA living with me. I can't breathe it is suffocating. There would be no passwords if people respected other peoples privacy! What my friends tell me is betweeen us not him. Men do you share everything that goes on during a boys night out, I don't think sooooo. I believe this has to be addressed. He hired private detectives tap my cell phone so he got emails first it is insane. I am sure he will find a way to read this as well. I don't care anymore he can read all he wants his craziness ruined a 20 year marriage and brought pain and suffering to our 2 kids yet nothing legally can be done for harrassment.

    January 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Brian

    Lemme get this straight. The woman cheats on husband #3 with husband #2, while also allowing husband #2 to beat up husband #1's child. Husband #3, rightfully angry and betrayed at the treatment of him and his stepchild, warns husband #1 about it using her emails. The most guilty parties here are husband #2 and the wife, yet husband #3 and the child suffer the most as a result. What a justice system!

    January 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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