In Child-Porn Aftermath, IT Staffer Faces A Decision - InformationWeek

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In Child-Porn Aftermath, IT Staffer Faces A Decision

She discovered child porn on a New York Law School professor's computer, got fired, then sued her employer for retaliation.

Dorothea Perry, the IT staffer fired from her job at New York Law School after reporting she had found child porn on a professor's laptop, faces a gut-wrenching decision. Perry must choose between settling the case and shutting up about it--or pressing ahead in her single-minded pursuit of justice.

Troubling DiscoveryIt started in June 2002, when Perry and colleague Robert Gross discovered sexually explicit images of children during maintenance of professor Edward Samuels' laptop. The police turned up more child porn on Samuels' home computer. He resigned, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years probation. He served about four months.

Only four months after taking action, Perry and Gross were fired by the school's IT services company, Collegis. The rationale was unsatisfactory job performance, though both previously received favorable reviews. (Collegis was later acquired by SunGard.) They filed suit, claiming retaliation. Perry pursued a separate suit in federal court, charging racial discrimination and retaliation.

Gross settled; now Perry must make a decision. "I feel like I'm selling my soul," Perry says in an e-mail. The proposed settlement isn't huge. It might get her a new BMW, but as a single mother, she's got other needs.

Perry feels backed into a corner. If she settles, she will not have proved that her firing was the result of retaliation or discrimination. "Maybe I should have just let him be an undisturbed and happy pedophile," she laments.

Now it's time to make up her mind about what to do next.

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