Sexting Teen Charged With Sexually Exploiting Himself

from the and-simultaneously-being-an-adult-and-a-minor dept

Why the cops even had access to these photos remains a mystery, but the conclusion they came to is the pure, uncut stupid we’ve come to expect when laws are bent to “fit” the “problem” of consensual behavior. Reason’s Robby Soave leads off with a straightforward and seemingly-damning recap of the situation.

A North Carolina 17-year-old caught in a sexting scandal faces charges of sexually exploiting a minor that could land him in jail for up to 10 years, since the law considers him an adult.

Could be a problem. How young was the victim?

Fayetteville, North Carolina, cops have charged 17-year-old Cormega Copening with sexual exploitation of a minor—his girlfriend, who is the same age—because the couple sent each other nude photos of themselves during their relationship.

They were both 16 when the alleged sexting took place. Both will be 18 in a year, which would make any sexting entirely legal. Because the state’s consent laws consider anyone 16 and under a minor but allows minors 16 or over to be charged as adults in certain circumstances, Copening (and his girlfriend) could have ended up in a Kafka-esque legal nightmare.

North Carolina is one of two states in the country (the other is progressive New York) that considers 16 to be the age of adulthood for criminal purposes. This mean, of course, that Copening can be tried as an adult for exploiting a minor—himself.

Indeed, these were the charges first brought against Copening and his girlfriend — both of whom are the same age.

Copening faces two counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Denson had faced one count of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor — said the victim being herself.

In both cases, the teens were charged with exploiting each other… and themselves. Once again, the law becomes a drooling idiot when it butts up against something it was never written to address.

The charges have been modified and they’re now only slightly less horrifically stupid.

An earlier story said Cormega Copening was charged with exploitation of a minor for texting photos of his genitals. He was charged making photos of himself and for possessing these photos, plus possessing a photo he received from Denson.

Not much better. Copening is being charged with being his own child pornographer. Denson’s charges seem to be a bit lighter.

An earlier version of this article said Brianna Denson still faces two felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. Those charges were dropped on July 21 when Denson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and started a year of probation. That misdemeanor charge will be dismissed next year if she complies with her punishment.

The Fayetteville Observer doesn’t state what the misdemeanor charge is, but it’s apparently linked to the consensual behavior the state insists on prosecuting as the self-generation of minor-exploiting photography.

Copening, however, is still being charged with unlawfully possessing photos of himself. Apparently, Copening has no possessory interest in himself until the state cuts him loose as an “adult” at age 18.

The implication is clear: Copening does not own himself, from the standpoint of the law, and is not free to keep sexually-provocative pictures, even if they depict his own body.

To add to the fucked-upness of it all, the Fayetteville Observer published the names of two minors who were accused of criminal activity, something most publications don’t do. It pointed out (using the severely twisted logic of the situation) that it always publishes the names of adults charged with felonies. The underlying laws — as badly mangled as they are — back up the paper’s editorial decision. Both teens are considered adults under these statutes. But the exploitation charges also consider the two teens to be “minors,” because the alleged photos were taken when they were sixteen. Most publications have a policy of protecting the identity of minors who are victims of crimes. As Robby Soave points out, according to the charges, the two teens are also victims of sexual exploitation, which normally would be enough to keep their names out of the papers.

Beyond all of this, we have to ask how the officers found these photos in the first place. The agency involved has refused to comment, but the Fayetteville Observer notes Copening is facing a misdemeanor property damage charge from August 22nd. No warrant was issued for the search and the detective (the charging detective, mind you) wrote in his report that pics were only sent between Copening and his girlfriend and recommended releasing him to his parents. And yet, the charges weren’t dropped and Copening’s court date has twice been reset.

On top of all of this, if the charges against Copening stick, he’ll be required to register as a sex offender — (mostly) for possessing photos of his own body.

There is nothing about this case that isn’t tragically stupid. At worst, the officers should have considered the context, the consensual nature and the lack of age discrepancy and did what the charging detective recommended — sending the teens home to their parents. If any discipline was needed for these actions, it’s well within the remand of their respective legal guardians, not the state that has decided people of a certain age aren’t allowed to own any part of themselves until the government says its OK.

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Comments on “Sexting Teen Charged With Sexually Exploiting Himself”

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111 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

So we have two lives destroyed in their teens by a monolithic, police state that couldn’t care less. But beyond that there are a few things that deserve some focus.

First, regardless of the absurdity, why is the girl receiving a much less harsh treatment? I mean, technically both of them did the exact same thing so why aren’t the charges equal? Somehow being male makes the guy more rape-y and pedophile-y?

Secondly, and I’m emphasizing what the article pointed out:

If any discipline was needed for these actions, it’s well within the remand of their respective legal guardians, not the state that has decided people of a certain age aren’t allowed to own any part of themselves until the government says its OK.

Why is the fcking government trying to force itself where there is no problem at all? This is just one more example of how much freedom people are losing. And it isn’t exclusive to the US either which is why it deserves emphasis.

Along with it, none of the parents decided to pursue a case against one of the offending parties when the pictures were discovered. So why is the Govt so eager in moving ahead and destroying innocent lives in the process?

Finally and most importantly there’s the fact that the cops went and scrutinized their phones. Where’s the warrant for that? If there isn’t a warrant for that then the ‘evidence’ (used very, very loosely here) should be tossed out. And ironically 2 innocents would be saved from the righteous police fury because law enforcement can’t be bothered to respect basic rights.

David says:

Re: Re:

Finally and most importantly there’s the fact that the cops went and scrutinized their phones. Where’s the warrant for that?

I think the Ars Technica article had details about that.

If I remember correctly, there was a statutory rape charge for somebody in the social circle of the boy, and the police had a warrant in connection with searching evidence for that. The boy handed his phone in and when they found the photographs of him and his girlfriend, they decided to rather focus on the low-hanging fruit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Why is the fcking government trying to force itself where there is no problem at all? This is just one more example of how much freedom people are losing. And it isn’t exclusive to the US either which is why it deserves emphasis.”

Government only takes rights away from people it does not give them rights… why do you expect it not to take away people’s freedom? All governments have the same capacity for evil that they steadily move towards.

Anonymous Coward says:

The teen should absolutely be punished by the justice system. Laws don’t just exist for adults, they exist for children too. If you violate the law, no matter how old you are, you are responsible for your actions.

These teens obviously are aware about the laws concerning sexting, child porn and whatnot. Who wouldn’t know about these laws unless you’re a moral defective. When something violates the law, it violates the law.

These teens should have exercised better judgement, but they did not. I have no sympathy for these teens because they DID violate the law and they should learn that there are repercussions from violating the law.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“These teens obviously are aware about the laws concerning sexting, child porn and whatnot”

To a degree, but they would not have considered that sending messages to your partner of the same age would have fallen under those categories. In fact, no sensible person would consider that you should be charged with child porn offences for taking a photo of yourself.

“These teens should have exercised better judgement, but they did not.”

Because they’re teenagers. That’s why the differentiation between juvenile and adult exists in the first place. Teenagers are not fully enough matured to make judgements accepted as an adult, which is why many things they can do are restricted until their 18th / 21st birthday. Why is it wrong to take this lack of maturity into account just because they committed a potentially immature action.

“I have no sympathy for these teens because they DID violate the law and they should learn that there are repercussions from violating the law.”

Sure, and those repercussions should be proportional to the offence. What they’re facing here is clearly not.

Then, of course, there’s the reason the laws exist in the first place. They’re there to protect minors. Here, they’re being twisted to destroy the lives of 2 minors. Do you honestly not see the issue?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Then, of course, there’s the reason the laws exist in the first place. They’re there to protect minors. Here, they’re being twisted to destroy the lives of 2 minors. Do you honestly not see the issue?

But don’t you see, we have to protect the minors(from themselves), by doing everything we can to screw them over and ruin their lives! It’s the only way to protect them(from themselves)! /s

David says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, you screw over two really badly, and it teaches two thousands a lesson for life. You don’t keep rotten apples in the same barrel as good ones. Sure, sucks to be those two, but they were abominable sinners anyway and may God have mercy on them because we won’t.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

That’s all I have to say here. If you’re still with me, you can now go back to beating your wife.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

No, see ‘repercussions’ would have been the police sending them home and receiving a stern talking to by their respective parents, maybe having their phones taken away until they can show some better decision making skills, or at least grow up enough that their brand of hormone-driven stupid wasn’t a crime. Felony charges and ruining a life by forcing one of them(and why exactly aren’t they both looking at that possibility?) on the sex-offenders list goes way beyond ‘repercussions’ in any reasonable or sane interpretation.

As for the ‘well they shouldn’t have broken the law’, if the law said that jaywalking was punishable by 10-years in prison, and you got caught jaywalking, would that be okay? What if littering had a 20-year penalty, and you littered, accidentally or not, that’d be acceptable, right? Maybe make changing lanes without signaling a capital crime, that sounds like a reasonable punishment, doesn’t it? Because after all, the law’s the law.

The law as it stands is stupid, incredibly so, treating the two as both minors and adults, at the same time, with the worst of both categories. They’re minors when it comes to the photos, and adults when it comes to the charges leveled against them. There’s also the concussion-level facepalming stupidity regarding how someone, anyone, can be hit with felony level charges for possessing pictures of their own bodies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

maybe having their phones taken away until they can show some better decision making skills

Well, as I see it, they can use their phones to exchange pictures of themselves, or they can find a quiet place and show each other their bodies. The latter seems to me to be the more risky behaviour because thing can go too far all too easily.
They seemed to be showing quite reasonable judgement skills, satisfy their curiosity in the safest manner available to them.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

That’s what I thought. I’d rather have my kids having sexy times at home than taking risks elsewhere and possibly getting an unplanned pregnancy in the process. But no, nude pics are a thing of the satan and morally reprehensible but luckily you have the moral police to rescue society from the devil.

Zonker says:

Re: Re: Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

Actually, it would have been perfectly legal for them to just have had sex with each other:

The age of consent is 16. There’s a law prohibiting anyone 16 or older from “taking indecent liberties with children,” but the child must be under 16 and the defendant at least five years older. There’s a law prohibiting “indecent liberties between children,” but that law only applies to a person under 16 who takes “liberties” with someone at least three years younger. So it’d be perfectly legal for these two to have actual physical intercourse, but trading or even having naked pictures they took of themselves is a felony. Or seven.

So yes, in North Carolina it is legally safer for two 16 year olds to have sex with each other (legal) than to take explicit pictures of themselves (felony – sex offender). Kids remember: it’s better to have sex together than to take pictures together!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

So it is legal for them to show each other their naked bodies in person, but illegal to show each other pictures of their naked bodies. It is safer for them to explore their sexuality with the safety barrier of distance, than to do so in person.
I was going to suggest that the pictures escaping their control would be less damaging to their futures than an accidental pregnancy, but the action of the legal system makes the pregnancy the less damaging outcome.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

The law as it stands is stupid, incredibly so, treating the two as both minors and adults, at the same time, with the worst of both categories.

Child pornography laws have no problems treating Manga Comic Strips as minors, so why not treat statutory adults simultaneously as minors?

Just think of the possibilities: a mother catching her adolescent child masturbating can threaten to have him or her indicted for child abuse.

It’s a prosecutor’s wet dream (well, they probably are not allowed many others).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

…Child pornography laws have no problems treating Manga Comic Strips as minors…

The laws in my area are worded such that fictional writing – no pictures or imagery of any kind – that depicts sexual activity of anyone under 18 can be prosecuted as CP. I cannot recall an actual prosecution, however.

There’s also been a discussion about CGI imagery and if existing laws are adequate for this. Once again I cannot recall an actual prosecution involving this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "It's the law" does not automatically translate to "It's right"

what do you do when you are a police state that wants to start arresting people you do not like but do not break any laws.

You make everything and anything a crime say the felony level charges for possessing pictures of their own bodies. then you can justify sending “undesireables” to prison.

These teens are being used to set up a precedent for getting rid of people those in charge do not like, but cannot currently get rid of under the current laughable laws

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The old adage : The Law is an ass

is surely relevant here. Where is the wisdom of Solomon when you need it most?

As more and more of these stories come to the surface, it highlights that simple fact that western countries are becoming more and more a heteronomy society instead of the autonomy society that people think they have.

The general excuse that you have given is based on the assumption that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that no matter what laws have been written into existence we all should know all of the law. Yet how often do see “secret interpretations” of “secret laws” to prosecute people?

xebikr (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So a law that was designed to protect children from adults should be used by adults to hurt children? Because “the law is the law”? Every time I hear about one of these cases it infuriates me. It’s just so painfully stupid. To those involved with bringing charges: Stop wasting resources ruining kids’ lives, and go do something productive.

And the newspaper? I want to punch that writer and his editor in the nose. Exceptionally irresponsible ‘journalism’.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "I have no sympathy for these teens because they DID violate the law"

And this is the problem.

Blind faith in law, in enforcement and authority all enable the corruption of same and encroachment onto human rights and liberties.

The price of something something eternal vigilance.

Don’t complain when they come for you and there’s no one left to say anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am quite curious what law you are referring to

Seriously?

The laws against possession, creation, and distribution of “child porn” have never allowed exceptions for logic, empathy, or common sense. That isn’t a new development.

What they did was clearly illegal. Which is a problem with the moral panic based laws, not the kids.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

False dichotomy. Laws in place to combat child porn does not have to, and should be, used to screw over the very group they’re supposedly meant to be protecting. You don’t protect children/teens by ruining their lives and/or hitting them with felony charges and jail time for what basically amounts to lousy decision making skills(otherwise known as the #1 thing teens everywhere are famous for).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Do you believe that the proliferation of child pornography is not a problem?”

Yes. Largely because, by definition, such pictures require the abuse of children by an adult to exist, and then are used to encourage further abuse.

I’m not sure how you believe that pictures taken voluntarily by the subject fits into that category.

“Perhaps pictures of minors in the hands of pedophiles less offensive to you if the pictures were taken by the minors themselves?”

If logic was applied, you’d find that not only would pedophiles would not be interested in these pictures at all (the term refers to those attracted to pre-pubescent children) but that in many civilised countries 16 is the legal age of consent.

So yes, I’d be far less concerned by self-taken pictures of people who are old enough to consent to intercourse in my home country than I would be of those of pre-pubescent children taken by adults.

Are these actually comparable in your head?

“These laws exist to close a legal loophole whereby child pornography can be legally created.”

Laws created to protect children. Which are now being used to deliberately destroy the lives of children, where there’s no evidence that any harm was done before the cops got hold of the photos.

Sorry, the lives of these kids aren’t acceptable collateral damage in my eyes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do you believe that the proliferation of child pornography is not a problem?

Yes. I believe the proliferation of inapporpriate reading of the law is a far bigger problem than the proliferation of nominal child pornograhy. The conduct that “child pornography” laws are meant to cover (and that reasonable people think of when you mention the term) is generally believed to be harmful to the child(ren) involved, hence why it is illegal. The only thing harmful to these “children” (or adults, depending on which part of the indictment you want to read) is the overzealous prosecution.

If you want to “close the loophole”, then close it by looking at who induced the conduct and whether a reasonable child believed they had a choice in the matter. That still lets you get the case that minor A threatens minor B into creating the image, while fixing the case that minor B voluntarily creates an image, possibly without minor A even knowing it will be done.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

That everyone who uses sites like this one where we question the government and criticize them on their perceived flaws will probably end up on a list somewhere, along with if things continue to go down the despotic hole we are heading we could all end up being arrested for some crime or another simply because we questioned a self percieved infalliable as well as almost completly corrupt government?

Pyrosflam (profile) says:

Trial please

This is such a clear case that the teens need to demand a trial. First you can’t take a plea as they will still give you some record, next the situation is so common now as to require that someone to look at it and tell everyone that the government is simply insane in charging the victim. Finally I am sure a first amendment defense could be used here in saying the law by allowing a situation like this makes the law illegal.

Laws need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the cell phone age.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Trial please

Silly person,

Children DO NOT HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS!!! (except when they get lucky)

Or have you not seen school and various federal and supreme court rulings that effectively state anyone not of legal age has no rights when they decide those rights are getting in the way to telling kids what to do.

CPS can come and take you child without a single warrant, they can literally just walk up kidnap a child and the police will shoot anyone that resists.

Society has corrupted itself!!!

Deirdre says:

Re: Re: Re: Trial please

Not true unless the child is in eminent danger, e.g., being driven by a drunk parent or found in a crack house that is being raided. Even then a responsible relative will be allowed to come and pick the child up.

In the case where the state has to take custody then an emergency hearing must be held before a judge of competent jurisdiction and an order issued. The child may be returned to the parents care once a “safety plan” to protect the child(ren) is in place.

This is just in the three states I am familiar with but similar processes no doubt exist in all states.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Trial please

I think everyone is okay when there is eminent danger with securing a child for a short time until family can pick them up.

I am talking about the cases including the one I linked in another post where it was clear they went batshit even when the child was in no eminent danger.

More often than you would think a child can make it into the system and stay in it for really stupid reason. Additionally, you can read some of the stories of people losing their children for some very stupid reasons. You would be wrong to think the system is not turning corrupt like everything else with authority. Some have even made the accusation of CPS becoming a shopping network where affluent people can almost just ask CPS to take another couples child away so they can have them.

Some of the stories are chilling… if they came took my child like that… I don’t know what I would do, but I sure would not blame any parent that shoots first and asks questions later if someone came to steal their kids!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Trial please

Talking about America, I do not know how they operate elsewhere.

Technically CPS is supposed to have a warrant but they often do no get one and are frequently let off the hook after they cite ‘circumstances’. The same typical crap that allows police to break into places, vehicles and other crap with the ‘probable cause/suspicious behavior’ bullshit.

It’s like all of the rest of the crap… Authority abuses power and breaks the law itself… the only people going to jail are the ones not in authority.

Here is a good article on the shit that can go on and how things have changed recently!
http://www.wnd.com/2014/03/mom-in-court-for-refusing-to-drug-daughter-13-with-antipsychotic/

Where it not for the protesters this woman would have been crucified by the courts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fruit of the poison tree

Finding the pictures and everything from it, seems to have been done on the cops own personal searching of the phones. Search the computer memories of the cops involved, they seem to be searching phones for pictures for no legal reason. There will be child porn when you search their phones based on this incident alone.

David says:

Re: Fruit of the poison tree

As far as I remember, no. They found the stuff with a warrant out in a separate case where the suspect of statutory rape was in the social circle of the boy. The boy handed his phone in, and when finding the pictures of him as well as a sext from his girlfriend, they decided to polish their batting average by bagging this one as well.

So they had reason as well as consent to search the phone. And coming up with evidence for an unrelated crime in the context of a reasonable search allows you to proceed. That’s not fruit from the poisoned tree.

Merely total nuttery.

David says:

This is nuts.

Jury Nullification, please.

He is being charged as an ADULT for crimes against himself a MINOR. They argument really should be, if he’s old enough to be charged as an ADULT, then then any crimes against himself should be treated as if he was an ADULT at the time. Or – nothing to see here, please be dismissed.

David says:

Re: This is nuts.

Child pornography charges depend on the semblance of a minor, not the statutory adulthood. That the guy had his own willing body available instead of having to rely on makeup or computer graphics or manga painting skills actually acerbates his crime as he cannot, as a minor, have legally consented to his proposal.

In other words: if you rely on “prosecutorial discretion” for sorting out braindead laws, I have the DOJ’s heavily used copy of the U.S. Constitution to sell to you (everyone knows that they actually keep it in mint condition).

David says:

Re: Re: Re: This is nuts.

Can you tell me any reason why not? Don’t take photos of yourself until you look/em> the age of consent.

I mean, Mangas etc get prosecuted when not looking like 18. Logically it should then not be child pornography if your models are 13 but look 18.

Because apparently the child pornography laws are for the protection of the viewer’s mind rather than of the childrens’ bodies.

It all makes sense once you’ve been tied up and dragged behind a Puritan coach for a few centuries.

John85851 (profile) says:

Punishment not proportional

The problem with sex abuse cases is that the punishment is NOT proportional to the crime.
For example, if I murder someone and the punishment is 50 years in prison, I serve my time, and I’m done. There’s no “murder offender registry” and I don’t have to tell my neighbors that I killed someone 50 years ago.

Yet if these kids take any kind of plea bargain (simply to reduce the jail time), they’ll go on the sex offender registry which will follow them for the rest of their lives, over something dumb they did when they were 16.
From now on, whenever they move, BY LAW, they’ll have to tell their neighbors that they’re on the sex offender registry. The neighbors may not ask for an explanation and simply assume they’re a child molester or worse.

So why should taking pictures of yourself at 16 for your girlfriend to enjoy have a far worse punishment than killing someone?

Naukri (user link) says:

Because they’re teenagers. That’s why the differentiation between juvenile and adult exists in the first place. Teenagers are not fully enough matured to make judgements accepted as an adult, which is why many things they can do are restricted until their 18th / 21st birthday. Why is it wrong to take this lack of maturity into account just because they committed a potentially immature action.

Anonymous Coward says:

dont understand how the pics were found, dont understand if a warrant was issued or what for, definitely dont understand how someone can be a minor if committing a crime but charged and prosecuted, with a court appearance as an adult! if there is something sensible in this, please explain. comments on the point of a pin please, as to the sense of any of this!

David says:

Re: Re:

Well, he was reasonably adult when carrying around pictures of a minor (namely himself at younger age).

If your parents made pictures of you playing in the pool as kid and you take these pictures 30 years later and sell them to people who are into child pornography, you’ll be prosecuted for material support of child porn even though you can be reasonably sure that the pictures were made with the consent of the depicted child (or not, but nobody could question your authority in that).

Now those pictures in the pool were, even assuming that they show some boy proudly parading his distinguishing prefix, comparatively harmless.

But the ones this case is about were likely taken with lewd intent.

See? It’s comparatively easy to twist the logic around enough to have “prosecutorial discretion” make a sufficiently self-righteous prosecutor favor making a deterrent example of the boy for the sake of the community and his career.

Any law reaching too far will do exactly that.

Anonymous Coward says:

#uc& ok, picture bad

Explain this to me like I am a 2 year old because I just don’t get it.

They were both 16 so perfectly legal for them to have sexual relations.

Physical Sexual contact of Naked bodies = Good
Pictures of naked bodies = Bad

I always thought that for something to be a crime that it required criminal intent.
Jared intended to have sexual relations with minors and exploit their pictures, thats bad.
These teens only wanted to enjoy each others bodies, not exploit them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: #uc& ok, picture bad

these teens are being setup to use this court case as precedent against others the police state might want to convict but have no charges to sue against.

In my opinion anyways.

legally the police are in the wrong here as well as the prosecution. But the USA court system is a kangaroo court system. A banana republic when it comes to picking and choosing what laws to enforce and who they enforce them on. As well as ignoring any rights the ones being with whatever crimes might have.

They are being railroaded, they are probably having their human and constitutional rights violated in some way. Since it is the government in charge who is going to stop them from maliciously charging these teens illegaly and unlawfully

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Absurd

I’m waiting for the inevitable miscarriage of justice if a teenager rapes a legal adult. Would they charge the victim with statutory rape while simultaneously trying the teenager as an adult?

Then again the laws already treat underage sex trafficking victims as criminals. Putting aside the gross injustice at this the “logic” is just plain absurd. Statutory rape is because of minor being unable to provide meaningful consent. Meanwhile pre Safe Harbor Act the victims of would be charged for prostitution. Clearly their minds are impervious to logic and lack the intelligence to be murdered let alone victims of animal cruelty.

dr evil says:

mamma was right

Now I understand why mama and the preadher always said a young person should not have sext until marriage. I am disturbed, however, that my first thought was ‘the cops were caught sending copies to themselves, AGAIN’ and the second thought was ‘how long before the girl is charged with receiving and not reporting vile filthy pedo child porn?’ Cummon coppers, theres some arrestin’ to be done! And, will arresting/charging/convicting the young man prevent him from taking future underaged pics of his own self?

Anonymous Coward says:

The simple fact of the matter is that the law applies just as equally to children as it does adults. I have no sympathy for these children because they DID distribute child porn.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor.

These children were obviously minors and the fact that minors distributed child pornography, no matter if they were photos of themselves, they deserve to be prosecuted in a court of law. I simply haven’t read a single comment here to absolve these teens of what they did.

It’s against the law and it doesn’t matter if they are underaged.

Pyrosf (profile) says:

How?

Your making the argument that a naked child with a cell phone taking photos of himself at age 15 (or younger) should be charged with creating child porn. If those photos are found after age 16 then the child should be charged as an adult for still having said photos.

In what world is this sane? Kids will take naked selfies regardless of the laws. Kids will send photos to others (most commonly peers).

The law in this situation is simply incorrect and even at odds with itself, only by taking kids to court and forcing the appeals process will this ever get fixed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Exactly. The laws just don’t apply to adults, they apply to every citizen in this country. Why do you think that children are arrested and charged with crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, assault … just because someone is a minor, under the age of 18, doesn’t mean that the laws shouldn’t apply to them.

They deserve to be charged with disseminating child porn. It does not matter what context the photos were taken in. It’s still a violation of Federal law to distribute child pornography.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

No mystery at all

“Why the cops even had access to these photos remains a mystery,…”

Hey, no mystery at all, think “IMSI catcher.” What did you think it meant when they listed “data” in, “The DRT1000 system may be used to: identify and collect audio, data and Signal Related Information (SRI).” (From Chicago, Los Angeles Police Departments Have Been Using ‘Stingrays On Steroids’ For Over A Decade.)

When his phone backed up the picture, they captured it off the data stream.

Pronounce (profile) says:

This Issue is Being Discussed at The Atlantic

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/for-sexting-teens-the-authorities-are-the-biggest-threat/403318/

Ten years too late for some unfortunately soles.

The powerful prey on the weak, and the kids and their families don’t stand a chance against the legal machine. A machine that has proven to be as corrupt as those it seeks to administer justice to.

Justme says:

Having it both ways.

The prosecutor should be forced to decide if they are legally minors or adults, not be allowed to call them adults for the purpose of prosecution and call them minor’s so that there is something to prosecute.

If they are legally adults then there no crime.
If they are legally minor’s then it doesn’t belongs in the adult courts, IF it belongs in a court at all!

This is example of an overly ambitious prosecutor twisting the law to further his own ambitions and its far to common!

Anonymous Coward says:

To the moron who quoted the so-called ‘romeo and juliet’ provision in the law. That only involves teens who have sex with each other and only if the teens are under the legal age. Unfortunately, the incident here is that teens took nude photos of themselves and sent them to each other. That is distributing child porn and is a violation of Federal law. Not even the so-called ‘romeo and juliet’ provision protects anyone from sending nude photos of children. That is the definition of child porn, even if the sender of those nude images is a minor.

There is no ‘romeo and juliet’ provision for minors taking nude photos or videos and then sending them to each other. Good luck trying to convince any court of that excuse.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let us all just bask in the idiocy of the situation. The two could have had sex as much as they wanted, risking pregnancy if they weren’t careful, and no laws would have been broken. Bring a camera into the mix however, and even if they’re never naked in the same room together suddenly it’s felony charges and ruined lives.

Yeah, makes perfect sense. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Exactly. Teens having sex is not a crime but the minute they took photos or videotaped themselves having sex turned into child porn. Fact is, they violated Federal law by creating child pornography and they should be charged with child porn.

Child porn is against the law, and it doesn’t matter if you’re over the age of 18 or under the age of 18, the law is the law.

Everyone is taking the immoral stance that teens producing child porn is a good thing. Child porn is NOT a good thing and there is a reason why a lot of countries have laws that ban the distribution of child pornography.

Just because you’re under the age of 18 doesn’t mean that you have the right to produce child pornography and get away with it. These teenagers knew very well that child pornography is against the law and everyone here wants these teens to be let off with a slap of the wrist?

It’s an insult. If you make child porn legal for teenagers then it follows that it must be legal for adults. It’s a good thing that child pornography is a violation of the law and these teens are about to be taught a real world lesson in the fact that producing child pornography is against the law.

I hope the judge throws the book at them.

Justme says:

Reasonable. .

This is not the kind of thing the law was written to address, this isn’t an adult exploiting and victimizing a child. This is two minor children making a bad choice during an intimate moment.

Bringing the law down on them does not make anybody safer by getting a predator of the street who would be exploiting other children. As a matter of fact, it likely increase the possibility of these children being victimized, if the end up in jail.

Justice is not based solely on the letter of the law, it has to consider the circumstances and the intent of those involved, and in balance with the degree of harm or danger it presents to the rest of society.

David says:

And now for something completely different:

Words have meanings.

There is nothing about this case that isn’t tragically stupid.

Totally wrong. Nothing about this case is tragically stupid. “tragical” means bad things arising in consequence of good intentions due to circumstances outside of the well-intentioned people’s control.

There is nothing well-intentioned in the law officers’ witch hunt here in spite of their preposterously absurd self-justifications for bolstering their crime-fighting statistics by sacrificing a few too trusting teens on the altar of sanctimoniousness while relying on the hypocritical backup of puritan pharisaic communities.

Ok, one thing is indeed properly called “tragically stupid”: the decision of the teen to help the police in a statutory rape case by letting them search his phone for leads. Trying to help them with solving a crime, he instead let them create a crime involving himself.

So yes, that’s an aspect one might call “tragically stupid”. The police, however, have been acting obsessively and malignantly stupid, but not tragically so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And now for something completely different:

“Words have meanings.”…””tragical” means bad things arising in consequence of good intentions due to circumstances outside of the well-intentioned people’s control.”

That is not what tragic means, that’s how you shoehorn it into your argument , but that is not what it means.

Anonymous Coward says:

Possessing a picture of anything should never be considered to be a crime. Period. Taking pictures in certain situations can be a crime, but there should be strict limitations on the number of such situations that can be considered criminal. Nakedness is not synonymous with sexual content and prosecutorial misconduct charges should be made against any prosecutor who crosses that line in order to score a porn conviction when there was no porn involved to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lemme guess...

Someone got jealous of their relationship, and went and told daddy cop, who has now made a mountain out of a mole hill.

Or was one of the cops banging the girl, and now that she found a boy her age, they are gonna ‘get her’.

“So I say to you tonight, friends, the best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So, if you smell something, say something.”

I’m calling out whoever allowed this whole thing to go this far.

Irma Gerd says:

“the state’s consent laws consider anyone 16 and under a minor”
————

This is inaccurate. In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16, not 17. However, the sexual exploitation of a minor law considers a minor to be anyone under 18. So these two could have had sex with each other (or with someone 20, 30, 50, any years older than they were) when they were 16 without running afoul of the law, but taking a nude photo of themselves qualifies as a crime according to an overzealous prosecutor.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "qualifies as a crime"

Being a ham sandwich qualifies as a crime to an overzealous prosecutor.

I think that’s the problem is that when it serves a prosecutor’s whims to ruin anyone, he can.

If we think that’s too much power for a police officer, why isn’t it too much power for a prosecutor?

Ours is no longer a nation of laws, it’s a nation of might.

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