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Paul Rolly: All's fair in loyalty and e-voting

Published May 23, 2008 1:13 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When the BYU faithful who subscribe to the CougarBoard.com Web site received a call to arms, they responded like a Ty Detmer march down the field.

One subscriber, with the moniker "Pittsburgcoug," wrote that his daughter was a contestant in her middle school's version of "American Idol" and needed online votes.

He gave his fellow Cougarites the link to the Challenger Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they could vote for their favorite contestant, even though they never saw her perform and had no idea who she was, other than she was one of them.

Bobby Sorden, the technology teacher at the school who put the contest together, said it seemed a bit odd when one of the nine contestants went from 77 online votes to more than 2,000 overnight.

When some Cougars questioned on the message board whether they were being asked to cheat, "Pittsburgcoug" responded that they actually were preventing some of the boys in the contest from cheating because they obviously had been stuffing the electronic ballot box.

One Cougar blogger bragged on the site that he voted seven times for "Pittsburgcoug's" daughter.

Sorden said he thought the overly zealous father was ingenious in a way for getting an entire university fan base to weigh in for his daughter. But Sorden said the school decided to scrap the online election and use paper ballots at the school instead.

Good job: When Utah Attorney General's investigator Steve Gamvroulas arrested a suspect for dealing in child pornography, he sensed he could make some inroads into busting up the sleazy marketing network.

He persuaded the suspect to give him his photo-sharing account number and password, then he posted a message using the suspect's identity saying he lost all his materials and requested fellow users send him their inventories of child porn.

From there, he launched investigations, but became particularly concerned with the images of a young girl around the age of 13. He noticed printing and what appeared to be school colors on a T-shirt she had.

Knowing the images came from New England, he spent days looking up schools in several states in that area until he came across one in Massachusetts whose name was close to the letters he could decipher on the T-shirt, and with same school colors.

Police agents in that state went to the school and quickly identified the 13-year-old girl, who then led them to the pornographer. That enabled them to shut down a major child porn ring.

For that, Gamvroulas is being honored this week by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Another honor: The Utah A.G.'s team actually is getting a twofer this week as Jessica Farnsworth will be honored as the national Amber Alert officer of the year.

She won the designation for putting together the nation's first Statewide Child Abduction Response Team, a multiagency task force that had its first deployment in the search for Hser Ner Moo, the 7-year-old refugee from Myanmar who eventually was found dead in a neighbor's apartment in a South Salt Lake apartment complex.





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