FBI Decides To Ruin A Man's Life Over Nude Photos Of His Legal Girlfriend He Took Seven Years Ago

from the government-still-full-of-vindictive-assholes dept

You can be in a consensual, legal relationship but still end up a sex offender. That’s how child porn laws work. It’s legal to have sex, but illegal to take pictures. In Ohio, a 27-year-old man was arrested on child porn charges for taking pictures of his then-17-year-old girlfriend. (h/t Guy Hamilton-Smith)

The affidavit [PDF] from the FBI is a harrowing deliberate misconstruing of the actual events, written in service of destroying a man’s life. It makes the man appear to be some sort of child porn-producing fiend, when, in fact, it was just him taking photos of his girlfriend.

As will be shown below, there is probable cause to believe that Edward R. Marrero used a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct and such visual depiction was produced using materials that had mailed shipped and transported in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2251(a).

[…]

On May 18, 2017, Affiant interviewed the pubescent female (Victim). The Victim admitted to being the ex-girlfriend of Marrero. The Victim identified herself and Marrero in a photograph in which Marrero’s hand and mouth were on the Victim’s breast.

On June 28, 2018, affiant telephonically interviewed the Victim. The Victim admitted that the photographs were taken in Cuyahoga County when she was under the age of 18.

Oh, and this:

The Kodak EasyShare camera was not produced in the State of Ohio.

So, there’s your “interstate” charge. Because the pictures were taken with a camera not “produced” in Ohio (but obviously sold in Ohio), the government is pretending this satisfies the clause needed to generate a minimum 15-year-prison term.

It all seems very damning, but here are the facts:

Edward Marrero, 27, said while testifying Thursday that he took the photos in April 2011, according to an affidavit written by FBI agent Lisa Hack. At the time, she was 17 years old and he was 20, authorities say.

Marrero is no longer in a relationship with the woman. He testified that he knew she was underage when he took the photos, the affidavit states.

The age of consent in Ohio is 16 years old, but federal law states it is illegal to create, share or possess sexually-explicit images of anyone under the age of 18.

The relationship was completely legal. The pictures somehow aren’t, even though no one could legally call the relationship (as it existed seven years ago) “exploitation” or “enticement.” But they can call the photos illegal and they can retcon the consensual relationship into a predator/prey dynamic using federal child porn charges.

The testimony referenced above wasn’t meant to incriminate Edward Marrero. He was testifying on behalf of another person facing child porn charges. When he detailed the pictures he took while in a consensual relationship with a 17-year-old, the feds decided to swear out an arrest warrant. While Marrero was informed of his Fifth Amendment rights, he most likely thought what he stated in court wasn’t incriminating (because the girlfriend was over the age of consent) or that the government would view his statements rationally and not immediately move to have him arrested.

As Guy Hamilton-Smith pointed out on Twitter, the federal government is being as punitive as possible, as quickly as possible. Marrero’s initial appearance was greeted with immediate detention and he’s been placed in the custody of the US Marshals. All this is happening over photos taken seven years ago by people in a consensual relationship. The accused wasn’t producing child porn by any rational definition of the statute. But it can be read in irrational ways to ruin lives just because.

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Comments on “FBI Decides To Ruin A Man's Life Over Nude Photos Of His Legal Girlfriend He Took Seven Years Ago”

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59 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

It’s even worse when you emphasize the photos were never shared and that there might be a confusion on the age of consent part. Technically courts can shot the FBI attempt to destroy his life just to score a conviction because even if you violate the basic right to live can be discarded as a crime if there is evidence of legitimate defense (ie: wither you kill or you are killed). I’m hoping the courts get this one right.

James says:

Re: They won't

The most profitable prisoners are the effectively-innocent with no violent history and no real crime committed. They require the least surveillance, and are most likely to comply with anything they’re forced to do in a misguided hope that they can get their life back on track by doing so.

Violent criminals, you want paroled as soon as possible due to their tendency to involve others with their crimes; but GEO and CoreCivic would rather not keep them in there as it increases the overhead. This is why their sentencing guidelines ensure people like this victim here are given minimum 15 years, while those who actually belong in jail may get out after 2 or 3.

tom (profile) says:

Mr Marrero should file charges against the FBI claiming they are attempting to violate his Right of Expression as protected by the 1st amendment. If the relationship was legal, then attempting to control artistic expression of that relationship seems to be a civil rights violation.

Since there is probably more then one agent involved, add on a conspiracy to commit a civil rights violation against all agents involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Laws often don’t add up logically, like being able to be a stripper at the age of 18, but 21 to be a waitress at the joint.

Anyway, above-18/below-18 relationships have often been in a legal grey area, with laws on the books that were written at a time long ago when fornication, sodomy, homosexuality, buggery, and miscegenation were serious crimes.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Seriously?!

In this case the law is so stupid that if he was 17 and she was 17 and she took the pics with his phone and he deleted them, he could still be charged with manufacturing. If she uses her phone then distribution charges get added in as well.

In fact it could be the case that the photos do not even exist any more, but his admission under oath that they were created in the first place is enough to send him to jail and register him as a sex offender for life.

The only defense he has is if the Jury feels the law is being abused. Otherwise there is almost nothing that cant be proved simply by reading the court transcript of his admission of guilt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously?!

In this case the law is so stupid that if he was 17 and she was 17 and she took the pics with his phone and he deleted them, he could still be charged with manufacturing.

He could also be charged with destroying evidence for deleting the pictures. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously?!

“In this case the law is so stupid that if he was 17 and she was 17 and she took the pics with his phone and he deleted them, he could still be charged with manufacturing.”

It gets worse:

https://www.wired.com/2009/01/kids/

US law enforcement is so screwed up on this issue that kids have been prosecuted for taking pictures of themselves.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Seriously?!

I don’t want to try to justify a case like this, but sometimes prosecuting someone is done as an example to others that might have engaged in bad behavior.

This case is stupid, and I don’t think it makes any sense, but it is not that difficult to come to a reason that someone might think it is ok to prosecute someone for victimizing themselves.

ANON says:

Re: Seriously?!

People are dumping on you, but in a way I have to agree with you – anyone who does not yet by now know that any sexually explicit picture of someone under 18 is illegal is living under a rock. Delete them. Deny they were ever made. Don’t take them in the first place.

IIRC this website reported on at least one instance where a girl was charged for taking pictures of herself… then the guys who received the photos were also charged.

It’ pathetic; and certainly any judge who lets the interstate part of the charge stand is a complete moron too. I suspect it’s a negotiating tactic to make the guy plead guilty. (Think Aaron Schwarz and 35 years in jail…)

Anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously?!

Deleting evidence is only illegal if there’s an investigation or you think there will be. Deleting because you want to forget your ex is perfectly legal.

As for deny – “I don’t remember what I did seven years ago” is a perfectly good defence and does not break any laws unless they can prove you remember…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Seriously?!

“Deleting evidence is only illegal if there’s an investigation or you think there will be. Deleting because you want to forget your ex is perfectly legal.”

So, how does one prove which of those reasons was the true motive?

As for your other claim, a quick Google around seems to suggest that they can indeed get you on a perjury charge without a heavy burden of proof. But, I suppose it varies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Seriously?!

Deleting evidence is only illegal if there’s an investigation or you think there will be.

Nope.

As for deny – "I don’t remember what I did seven years ago" is a perfectly good defence and does not break any laws unless they can prove you remember…

Nope again.

That kind of ignorance is what makes for convicted felons. Just ask Edward Marrero what such legal ignorance has done for his life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously?!

It’s destruction of evidence if you’ve been subpoenaed to preserve records. If you’re preempting charges (which is what the original post was talking about), there’s nothing to preserve. By your logic a basic shredder is a terrible tool of mass destruction of evidence of potential crimes.

As for the denial you’re right, but again it’s not coming up unless there are charges.

TripMN (profile) says:

Re: Re: Seriously?!

anyone who does not yet by now know that **any sexually explicit picture of someone under 18 is illegal **

You do know that this was 7 years ago… before most of the prosecutions and misuse of our judicial system to go after people doing non-crimes had occurred.

Now if only he had a time machine, he could go back and stop himself from taking a picture that he probably didn’t think would be a problem 7 years later.

You know if doing stupid things were illegal, this statement should probably get you about 3 years.

Anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Seriously?!

I don’t remember when the law was made, but it’s been illegal for more than 20 years.

I think it’s stupid to have different ages for consent, explicit photos, drinking alcohol, driving, signing contracts, etc. – but the ultimate decision is up to people elected by holier-than-thou types.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Seriously?!

“I don’t remember when the law was made, but it’s been illegal for more than 20 years.”

Lots of things are illegal. It doesn’t mean they’re worth ruining a person’s life for, especially when there is no victim at all (apart from the guy being prosecuted, of course).

There’s a reason why different laws have different punishments, and this is way beyond “cruel and unusual”.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Cruel and Unusual

It’s ridiculous given that he didn’t use the photos he took to abuse his ex after the fact, and I write this from the “holier than thou” side of the aisle.

I think the takeaway here is to think twice before you take a photo that might be construed as having a sexual aspect in case it’s used to screw your life up later on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Cruel and Unusual

In their never ending quest to weaken the constitution that fetters their employer, courts have interpreted the constitution to only ban punishments that are both cruel and unusual, not punishments that are only cruel or only unusual. Thus, the cruel conditions in state prisons are perfectly acceptable because they aren’t unusual.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: BOREDOM

So bored they have created THEIR OWN instances of terrorism..

They do that every day.

This is more lazy than bored. How often do you start out with someone directly confessing their "crime" in the court record? No need to find a patsy, no need to badger them to commit a crime, no need to go to Home Depot for "bomb parts"…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Dumb

“This is the same FBI which stole the 2016 presidential election from Hillary and put some Russia stooge in office in her place? Nothing surprises me from this lot.”

This is just fucking hilarious. I mean, you’re referring to the same FBI which was shown to be investigating Trump, and the investigators were shown to absolutely hate him.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Investigations and opinionated agents...

Are neither indications of the position of the agency.

Rather Comey indicated as much that he resented Clinton and the Obama-era democratic party, and grossly underestimated his ability to sabotage an election (there were a lot of factors. He had help.)

The investigation into the Trump campaign was considerably more routine and less invasive than the investigation into Clinton’s email server, which is saying something considering Trump has a long history of felonious behavior well worth investigating by Federal law enforcement. And yet Howard Hughes got more attention.

(One might even argue Trump ran for president on the chance of escaping statutory reach of his past activities.)

My observation of the FBI and Comey is that like the Hoover FBI, it seeks its own interests and regards any major institution as a rival.

Rekrul says:

Pedophilia* is the new witchcraft. Everyone is suspect. Everyone must be watched for fear that they might turn out to be a pedophile. Turn in your neighbors! Does that man in the park look at the children a few seconds too long? Don’t take chances, point at him and scream “Pedophile!” Does the guy down the street like collecting kids’ toys? He’s probably a pedophile!

*Although technically it’s not pedophilia to be attracted to teenagers, even if they ARE underage.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ephebophilia

In the psychological sector, sexual interest in post-pubescent teens is differentiated from sexual interest in pre-pubescent teens because the former is very common, given sexual attraction is typically to young, healthy specimens,of which teens are exemplary.

I hesitate in this case to use the terms ephebophilia and pedophilia, respectively because their definitions have changed with each iteration of the DSM, let alone varied wildly in general use.

By far, most adults attracted to pre-pubescent children do not act on their desires (at least not illegally. Interests in age-play and lolicon are quite pervasive in society).

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Once again the FBI shows it has nothing better to do...

…except persecute people for minor actions they can inflate to look like major ones.

It goes right along with their terror sting operations in which they gaslight (literal) crazies and retards in order to convince a court that buying some hardware supplies constitutes a an act of terror.

Is it that crime is so reduced the FBI doesn’t have anything better to do? I thought we still had criminal drug rings and human traffickers to hunt down. Is this no longer so?

Or is turning odd but innocent people into prison fodder simply saver and easier than investigating real crime?

That One Guy (profile) says:

"I don't get it, why won't anyone talk to us?"

The age of consent in Ohio is 16 years old, but federal law states it is illegal to create, share or possess sexually-explicit images of anyone under the age of 18.

So you can legally have actual, physical sex two years before you can take a picture of a sexual nature. A lewd picture is considered worse than the actual act of sex.

Yeah, that’s not screwed up at all.

The testimony referenced above wasn’t meant to incriminate Edward Marrero. He was testifying on behalf of another person facing child porn charges.

After turning on him like this just to pad out someone’e resume good luck getting anyone else to follow suit and help with an investigation in the future.

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