TV Station Educates Public On Dangers Of Teen Sexting By Exposing 14-Year-Old's Name… And Penis

from the an-hero dept

According to a recently-filed lawsuit, the media is apparently every bit as “helpful” as law enforcement when it comes to the responsible, logical handling of teens and sexting. Confusing “hurting” with “helping,” Colorado’s KOAA allegedly exposed not only the name of a teen involved in a sexting incident, but also the part that puts the “sex” in “sexting.”

The station, KOAA TV, aired footage of the boy’s erect penis during a news report that was put together after his father’s girlfriend approached producers about an alleged blackmail attempt, according to a complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

Producers were told on Feb. 24 by the woman that someone had tried to blackmail the teen, now 16, using sexually explicit material. That same day they arrived at the family house in Pueblo, Colorado to investigate the claims and interview the boy’s father, Elijah Holden. While on assignment, the suit alleges that the news team collected screenshots from the teen’s Facebook page, as well as images from the YouTube page where the blackmail video had been uploaded, to be used in their coverage.

The plaintiff and his father both asked that the name “be kept confidential through any report presented by Defendant KOAA,” attorney Matthew Schneider said in the filing.

Since law enforcement largely seems to feel sexting = child porn, the station should have found itself under investigation for distributing child porn. Instead, the only negative result of its allegedly terrible editorial practices so far is Holden’s lawsuit.

Holden is seeking damages related to the outing of his name and sexual organs, with damages sought clearing the $1 million mark. In its defense, the station had this to say:

“Through a series of stories during the last several years, KOAA has informed its viewers about the dangers of sexting and cell phone security,” KOAA president and general manager Evan Pappas said in a statement to Courthouse News, where the suit was first reported on Tuesday this week. “At the specific request of the victim’s father, we ran a story two years ago about his son being blackmailed over a cellphone video.”

Well, I guess nothing better illustrates the dangers of sexting more than irresponsibly splashing a minor’s name and penis all over the TV screen. Of course, considering these were tied to blackmail allegations by an adult, it would seem more — much more — discretion would have been in order. Instead, the TV station went the other way, displaying the name of the minor involved over a screen cap of his penis and topped it off by dragging his social circle into the mess.

The station claims the allegations are unsubstantiated, but there’s really no excuse for using a minor’s name — even if the guardian gave permission to the news outlet to do so. But going past that, how does the station hope to explain its use of an explicit photo of a minor in a publicly-broadcast news report? According to the lawsuit, something that could be considered child pornography somehow made its way past internal censors and ended up on the evening news.

Defendant KOAA aired the thumbnail image of the YouTube video depicting Plaintiff’s erect penis and his name as a part of the story shown on February 24th 2014.

While journalists have played an important part in exposing ridiculous prosecutions of sexting teens, there’s no denying the lurid nature of the subject matter is also beneficial to the entities covering the stories. The implicit suggestion that YOUNG NAKED TEENS lie just beyond the next commercial break attracts additional viewers. This additional motivator might explain the apparent lack of discretion on the part of KOAA.

As of now, what we have is a news agency that claims it broadcasts these stories to educate the public on the dangers of sexting while apparently feeling compelled to drive that point home through its own actions.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: koaa

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “TV Station Educates Public On Dangers Of Teen Sexting By Exposing 14-Year-Old's Name… And Penis”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
52 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

So let's recap...

Teens(not necessarily these ones) pass explicit photos of themselves to each other, and the law cracks down on that, doing it’s best to ruin as many lives as possible for ‘creation and/or distribution of child porn’.

News agency publicly displays both name and dick pic of teen, and the law is completely indifferent.

Yup, they certainly are focused on ‘protecting’ the kids with those laws aren’t they? /s

Richard (profile) says:

In which case

According to the lawsuit, something that could be considered child pornography somehow made its way past internal censors and ended up on the evening news.

Based on standard practice in law enforcement everyone who works at the station – AND everyone who watched the evening news – should now go onto the sex offenders register.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Show a naked underage penis to the world – no charge.
Download some research – full weight of the “justice”.

So from the perspective of a teen, if you tell an ‘authority’ figure in an attempt to get help they will make it 1000x’s worse. Doesn’t seem logical to us (well maybe it does) but there is a huge pile of cases where the victim gets screwed by the ‘helpful’ adults.

So how many teens are staying silent because everyone is so bent on ‘helping’ that the victim is an afterthought?

Sexting makes great headlines, shame that our war on it is leaving a trail of victims of the system running stupid.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

What is the big effing deal??

I just don’t get the human race. Or something.

Every single person on the planet has genitals. We all know what they look like.

So why are photos of them such a big effing deal?

HOW can one successfully threaten a 15 year old boy over a picture of his erect penis?

WHAT terrible thing would happen to him if that photo was released? (Presumably it doesn’t even show his face, so it could be ANYBODY’S dick in the picture.)

Blackmail is a threat to reveal illicit behavior. Cheating on one’s spouse. Crimes. Immoral acts.

But every 15 year old boy had a penis, and it gets erect sometimes. There’s nothing illicit or even unusual about that.

WTF? Somebody please explain.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: What is the big effing deal??

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/10/to-pay-off-webcam-spies-detroit-kid-pawns-100k-in-family-jewels-for-1500/

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/09/how-an-omniscient-internet-sextortionist-ruined-lives/

And IIRC there was that ass who worked for the government and was extorting people.

There is a perfect storm available to get a teen to do what you want.

– Kids have been charged & put on the sex offender registry for swapping naked pics.
– Reputation is everything.

Take someone without a fully formed brain and apply pressure. You convince them of all the bad things that will happen. It isn’t hard… their parents were screaming when they got a D in class think threats of their penis being out there would go over well?

People who don’t understand the position they are in often make what look like irrational decisions to those of us who understand. See also: Targets of Copyright Trolls.

You get the kid to do more to avoid showing the original ‘sin’ increasing the amount of ‘sins’ you can expose because the kid doesn’t understand that pattern and thinks people are truthful.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: What is the big effing deal??

Yes, I understand that. Kids are stupid and gullible.

(I have raised a couple of my own, so I’ve personal experience).

I’m not asking about that.

I’m asking about our culture. Why does our culture go nuts (no pun intended) over dick pics?

Why does everyone, including the TV station, the viewers, the police, the law, and commenters here on Techdirt, make such a big effing deal about DICK PICTURES?

Who the hell cares? It’s a penis. They all look pretty much the same. Half of the people in the world have one. It’s no crime!

Jesus H. Christ, people. Can’t you find something more important to get upset over?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What is the big effing deal??

The law cares.

We are a hugely victorian society. Breasts get people arrested, pics pulled from Facebook, and a litany of sins.
Sex is dirty… the penis is used to have sex so it is dirty.

We are a nation scared of boogeymen. The boogeyman has a penis, so all penises are bad.

As a connoisseur of penises I can tell you there is a wide variety of them, some are nicer than others.

If it bleeds it leads is the news cycle mantra, if you’ve got no blood look for a penis story, find a puppy if all else fails.

TD isn’t so much caring about the penis pics, more so about the failure of a media outlet doing everything wrong and pointing out that teens get charged with sex crimes for sexting pics and here they broadcast a penis on tv and nothing happened, not to mention the complete failure of outing an underaged victim of what falls under the blanket of a sex crime.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What is the big effing deal??

“Jesus H. Christ, people. Can’t you find something more important to get upset over?”

The irony of you asking that is just amazing to me.

Beyond that though, the question of why our current culture thinks this is a big deal is not important in this case. What is important is that it is a big deal to this kid. What is also important is that this news agency ignored the kids and his family’s wishes and plastered his name and dick all over the news.

Another really important point is. Yes, it is a dick, they look a lot alike and it could belong to anyone, BUT this one how has his name linked to it by a news agency. You have to be really ignorant to think this will not haunt the kid at school.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is the big effing deal??

What exactly is ironic about it, and does the irony result from the fact that it’s me asking the question?

I’d really like to know.

As I just said in my other reply, this will “haunt the kid at school” only because our culture makes such a big effing deal about these stupid photos. For no good reason that I can see.

I don’t see how that benefits anyone.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What is the big effing deal??

It is ironic because you yourself are making a big deal out of these things.

The other point I was making is that yes, it is only a big deal because culture makes it so. Knowing that still does not help the fact that this kid gets to live with the effects. The issue here is not really so much the what happened as it is about how society reacts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is the big effing deal??

“Another really important point is. Yes, it is a dick, they look a lot alike and it could belong to anyone, BUT this one how has his name linked to it by a news agency. You have to be really ignorant to think this will not haunt the kid at school.”

This reminds me of the (was it a cop or a prosecutor?) who wanted to use a picture of a kids penis in court to identify the culprit and got shot down.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 What is the big effing deal??

He was going to be busted for sex crimes not just having CP.

https://photographyisnotacrime.com/2015/12/17/police-officer-who-pushed-for-pics-of-teens-erection-in-sexting-case-commits-suicide-moments-before-getting-arrested-for-sexually-abusing-teen-boys/

He had long term access to victims and because of his position he was never looked at sideways.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is the big effing deal??

You have to be really ignorant to think this will not haunt the kid at school.

Really? The first time I got an erection, I had no idea wtf was happening (nobody’d bothered to tell me, damnit!), but I sure felt proud of it at the time anyway.

“Are you the guy with the dick pic?”

“Yup, you like it?”

“Yup.”

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is the big effing deal??

I think it goes a bit deeper.

We like to have labels for things that are black and white without having to think about the gray areas that exist.

Its been a while but remember when glut of cases of CP cases that happened when some do-gooder at the 1 hour photo saw a picture of a kid in a tub and reported it as CP? They might have had pictures of their own kids/grandkids in the tub but someone else did it so they had to say something… because they thought of the children.

Naked = Porn

We pretended (sometimes still do) that women are responsible for being raped because they were dressed provocatively. Men who are supposed to be masters of the universe see a little ankle and suddenly lose all control. It can’t be that some men can be bad, there has to be an excuse, otherwise we have to consider that the handy labels aren’t real useful for large groups or the larger subjects we should discuss & understand.

I’m a construct designed to elicit disbelief of my motives, people see the trendy avatar and make assumptions because labels are easy. The problem is looking at what I say challenges the easy labels. I’m a shade of gray in their black & white world, and hopefully they learn to work past the black & white labels and see me as just me.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What is the big effing deal??

Because our society cannot distinguish nudity from pornography. Plain and simple, sad but true.

I think it goes a bit deeper.

Nope, I disagree, because religion. He got it right.

Why’s Michaelangelo’s David forced to wear a bolted on after the fact fig leaf?

Roman Catholicism’s prudery is still working its way through the system. Priests are ashamed to be ministering to us rutting animals, denying our true nature as biological beings, and we pay the price of their shame.

Lose the church, and this’ll end.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What is the big effing deal??

Why does everyone, including the TV station, the viewers, the police, the law, and commenters here on Techdirt, make such a big effing deal about DICK PICTURES?

1) Sex sells. “The oldest profession” and all that. Lots of males (especially teenage males learning to use recently acquired hormonal additions) think with their head, and it’s not their skull. It’s biology. Then there’s the female side too. They can be just as guilty of this.

2) Madison Avenue * Hollywood == $$$$$$$$.

3) We may be capable of philosophy and great thoughts. That doesn’t mean we’ll all (or for some ever) be governed by such things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What is the big effing deal??

Despite the but deal that TechDirt makes about it, the penis really doesn’t matter because the context was educational however, since it came from the young man father and, not the young man him-self they, really should had give the name, at least not with it asking first. Its just really embarrassing and an evasion of privacy.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: What is the big effing deal??

Every single person on the planet has genitals. We all know what they look like.

Every single mammal on the planet has nipples, both male and female. Why’d we go through years of “Oh my Gawd!” over a “wardrobe malfunction?”

Why can’t females go topless? Because guys can have no self-control.

Yet we lambaste Muslims for doing the same thing in other ways. People.

Anonymous Coward says:

On the positive side

The news broadcast did rather effectively defeat the alleged blackmailer. By putting the blackmail subject matter out there for all to see, they did what the blackmailer threatened to do, so now there is no reason for the victim to comply with the blackmailer’s demands. What could the blackmailer do for noncompliance after this? Send people a link to the news story with an “I made this happen” claim attached?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...