The United States vs. Lawrence Brose: A Butterfly on the Wheel
by William Altreuter
The Mac notebook computer sat on a desk in the studio on Huron Street. Because it was a Mac it didn’t have antivirus software installed; Mac owners like to boast that they don’t need it. The computer was not password protected, and the wireless internet network it was connected to was unsecured. The computer belonged to Lawrence Brose, and Brose rented the studio. Over the years visiting artists from the organization where Brose was director had access to both. The computer was a tool for work, the studio was a place where work was done. Like a shovel in a shed, the computer could be used by anyone who was in the studio. Unlike a shed, the network in the studio could be easily broken into by anyone happening by. Like a shovel, the computer could be used for many things, by anyone who happened to pick it up.
Before the ICE agents came to his door, Lawrence Brose was a well-respected leader in the Western New York arts community, the director of the CEPA Gallery, and an award-winning filmmaker. All that changed on the day after Thanksgiving, 2009, when the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York announced that Brose had been indicted. Police authorities in Germany had advised US law enforcement that images of child pornography had been sent to an IP address which was subsequently identified as the internet address that Brose’s computer was on. The world that Brose thought he lived in, the friends he thought he had, and the life he thought he was living all changed. For the past three years he has found himself in a strange twilight place.