Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended her decision Wednesday to file charges against a man accused of hacking into his estranged wife’s e-mail after suspecting she was having an affair, saying the case is about invasion of privacy.
Cooper said that charging Leon Walker with felony computer misuse was appropriate because he broke state law. Walker, an information technology worker, has said he accessed the account only because he suspected infidelity, and critics say Cooper has better things to do than get involved in marital strife.
“I could care less who is messing with whom. This case is about hacking,” Cooper said. “Somebody has violated a statute. My job is to enforce the statute. The hacking laws are there for a reason. You have to have … privacy.”
Judges have twice denied requests to dismiss the charges, she added.
Walker, 33, and his attorney didn’t return phone messages Wednesday. Walker is fighting the charge, which carries up to five years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 11.
Walker’s now ex-wife, Clara Walker, realized her e-mail had been hacked when e-mails showed up in child custody pleadings involving her first husband. She filed a complaint with police in March, Cooper said.
The Walkers, who lived in Rochester Hills, were going through a contentious divorce. Leon Walker, her third husband, has said he suspected his wife was having an affair with her second husband.
Walker has said he bought the laptop, but Clara Walker claimed that she changed her password six times and he didn’t have permission to use it. She told investigators that he downloaded e-mails concerning her first husband about a custody battle.
“My e-mail password was a secret and not kept around the house for anybody to find,” Clara Walker wrote Wednesday in an e-mail. “When I learned that he was sneaking around and invading my privacy, I felt violated.”
Support for Leon Walker has been popping up in blogs and among some legal professionals, mostly questioning why Cooper is pursuing the case. A paralegal in Tennessee said he plans to raise money to help Walker’s legal defense.
Florida lawyer David Allen worked on a similar divorce proceeding that involved his client’s wife installing spyware on her husband’s computer. His client declined to press charges, though a judge ruled that communications captured by the spyware were inadmissible.
“A lot of these prosecutors, they just want publicity (but) you are supposed to enforce the law,” Allen said.