Massive Sexting Case Shockingly Results In No Criminal Charges

from the common-sense:-1,-insane,-reactionary-bullshit:-a-billion dept

A sexting scandal made a Colorado high school a national headline. The numbers were shocking: 106 students involved with 351 images being circulated. But the most shocking number of all is this one: zero arrests. (h/t Techdirt reader withersteen)

More than 100 students involved in a sexting scandal at a southern Colorado high school will not face criminal charges, a prosecutor announced Wednesday in a case that illustrated the digitally saturated reality of sexting cases across the country.

Fremont County District Attorney Thom LeDoux said the investigation into the scandal at Canon City High School failed to show any adults were involved. None of the 351 images were posted to the Internet, and there was no evidence of coercion or bullying, LeDoux said.

Given what we’ve seen in other (and much smaller) sexting cases — where sex offender laws have been twisted to cover consensual interactions between adolescents — the district attorney’s decision to put control of the situation back in parents’ hands is a surprise. It will no doubt be the exception that proves the rule.

The instinctual reaction to bring law enforcement into the equation is understandable and, admittedly, there are aspects of sexting that may require this sort of scrutiny. The problem is that prosecutors often feel compelled to find something to charge sexting participants with, if only to justify the expenditure of law enforcement resources. This leads to preposterous (and potentially life-damaging) outcomes like teens being charged with exploiting themselves by taking photos of their own bodies and sharing them with others.

Fortunately, this case is being viewed as a learning opportunity by the school district.

LeDoux said the decision not to prosecute doesn’t condone what the students did and that his office is sending warning letters to all 106 students involved. A total of about 1,000 students attend Canon City High.

He also said the Fremont County School District would offer education about sexting to both students and their parents.

The other possible positive outcome of this situation is that, because of the national attention it received, prosecutors, school administrators and other authority figures may alter their tactics when dealing with similar incidents. Rather than default to the instinctive urge to punish someone, they may decide to handle this with more restraint and common sense.

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Comments on “Massive Sexting Case Shockingly Results In No Criminal Charges”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:


“He also said the Fremont County School District would offer education about sexting to both students and their parents.”

Great. Now their gonna teach more students how to sext, and to make sure they learn their lessons well their gonna get the parents to help them learn?

Wait, this might be a setup. If the parents get involved then they might have some adults to charge.

tqk (profile) says:


The instinctual reaction to bring law enforcement into the equation is understandable …

Since when? Who was harmed? Law enforcement should be protecting us from violent criminals, not kids trading playing cards. It’s just pixels, usually with everything above the throat chopped off, so anonymous. BFD!

Meanwhile slashers and gore play on prime time and during the newshour, with full coverage of various “wars of liberation” with explosions and firefights, and weeping peasants in handcuffs with bags over their heads. If they’re not enough, borrow a superhero movie from the library.

Get your priorities sorted already.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

One can now expect that the parents will start petitions and campaigns against all of the officials to make them be the bad guy and raise their kids for them.

The world keeps moving forward, yet this isn’t the first time a girl shared a picture with her boyfriend and he decided to show it off. The difference is the reach possible now. There is no technology that will not be pushed forward by mans quest to find ways to use it for sex.

Perhaps it is time to stop pretending that kids never think about sex until they are married, and that not telling them about it keeps them safe from its corrupting taint. You can try to control everything your kid does, and they will find so many ways around you… or you could be honest that you might think hes the one and share the picture and he will show it off. Their brains aren’t fully developed yet, but hiding the truth only stunts that development.

TL;DR – Glad that the officials decided to not rain down hellfire & brimstone, but worried the parents still won’t step up to be parents.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"Two lives ruined is good for my career, over a hundred might not be..."

Yeah, ‘common sense’ had nothing to do with the decision not to press charges, I’m guessing that had more to do with the attention and the number of students involved.

Easy to ruin a few lives so you can proclaim how you’re ‘tough on child exploitation’ when only those in the area are watching, but when the potential ruined lives reaches the triple digits, and you’ve got national attention, suddenly you have to pretend to care about more than your own career.

They didn’t drop the issue because of the kids, they dropped it because going forward might have negatively impacted their own jobs.

David says:

You know _why_ common sense prevailed?

Common sense prevailed exactly because of perverse incentives. If a district attorney can point to 4 sex offense convictions in his CV (and the laws make those mostly slam dunks), that’s good for his career.

106 sex offense convictions in the CV will lead to questions and second thoughts. So the kids prevailed because of safety in numbers. They were too many to look good and reasonably inconspicuous in a resume.


Robert says:

From Minor to Adult

Plan ahead for the future. This could be far more dangerous than people think. Young teens sexting each, forget and years latter slip into adulthood with those images still existing and they face real penalties.
Undeleted childish mistakes can became major disasters later on in life. The real warning that needs to go out.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Sexting

Because if adults are going to be ashamed of their own bodies, then teenagers are damn well going to be ashamed of theirs, even if lives have to be ruined to instill that shame! Can’t have teenagers growing up thinking that there’s nothing wrong with the human body, society itself would crumble if people startd thinking like that. /s

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