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Man gets felony charges for monitoring girlfriend's computer

Posted: January 3, 2013 - 1:16am

A man who suspected his then-girlfriend of cheating has been charged with a felony computer crime for allegedly accessing her computer without permission to confirm his suspicions, according to court documents.

Timothy Ryan Johnson, 27, was indicted by a Juneau grand jury late last month after the woman discovered a “keylogger” on her computer that allegedly allowed Johnson to view private emails and pictures, including nude photographs. Keyloggers silently monitor and record key strokes pressed on a keyboard, unbeknownst to the computer user.

The woman, who is not named in court documents, contacted police in October complaining that her ex-boyfriend, Johnson, placed a keylogger on her computer, according to an affidavit. She told police she kept changing her passwords, but Johnson kept confronting her with personal information she never shared with him, the affidavit states.

During a police interview last month, Johnson admitted to having used the keylogger to access “emails and pictures she had sent to other guys,” because he thought she was cheating, the affidavit alleges.

Johnson was indicted on the single felony “criminal use of a computer” charge, which prohibits using keyloggers or other devices to intercept or record another person’s keystrokes or computer entries. That’s a class ‘C’ felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Johnson was additionally charged by the district attorney’s office with one misdemeanor count of “indecent viewing or photography” for viewing nude photographs without consent of the person shown in the photographs.

Johnson is scheduled to appear for an arraignment in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Philip Pallenberg next week. He is represented by defense attorney Julie Willoughby, who declined to comment on the case.

Johnson said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon that he did not realize it was a felony offense, and that he hopes the felony charge is reduced or dismissed.

“I didn’t realize that it was illegal when I did it, and I just wanted to catch her cheating on me, which I did,” he said.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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