Michigan prosecutor charges man for reading wife's e-mail

A Michigan man faces up to five years in prison for reading his wife's e-mail in order to confirm her infidelity, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.

Oakland County prosecutor Jessica Cooper has turned to a Michigan statute normally used to prosecute identity theft or stealing trade secrets to charge Leon Walker with a felony after he accessed his wife's e-mail account on a laptop the couple shared. Walker was arrested in February 2009 and faces a trial starting Feb. 7.

Defense lawyers and legal experts say the law was intended to prevent hackers from breaking into government systems or private businesses, not to prosecute family members for violating one another's privacy. Cooper disagreed, arguing Walker, a computer technician, had used his training to violate the law.

"The guy is a hacker," Cooper said in a voicemail to the Free Press last week. "It was password-protected; he had wonderful skills and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way."

Walker was the third husband of Clara Walker, whose e-mail showed she was having an affair with her second husband, a man once arrested for beating her in front of her young son. Leon Walker, reportedly concerned the child may witness further domestic violence, delivered the e-mails to Clara Walker's first husband and the child's father, who promptly filed an emergency motion to obtain custody.