School Administrator Accused Of Child Porn Because He Investigated Sexting At School
from the just-sad dept
That leads to even more ridiculous situations, like the story in Wired about an assistant principal, Ting-Yi Oei, at a high school in Virginia. After rumors were spreading about "sexting" happening at the school, he was asked by the principal to investigate. In the course of the investigation, a male student showed him a photo he had received of the torso of a woman wearing a bra and covering her breasts with her arms. The principal told Oei to preserve a copy of the image. Not being very computer literate, he asked the student with the photo how to get a copy himself. The student sent it to Oei's phone and told him how to email it to his own computer, which Oei did. After investigating the matter, Oei did not believe the student in the photo went to the school, and informed the principal about everything.
Later, due to a variety of other events, the original student who had the photo was suspended. In anger, his mother called the police, telling them about the photo, which resulted in the police investigating Oei... and charging him with "failure to report suspicion of child abuse." Of course, he had reported everything to the principal (what was legally required) and it wasn't clear that there was actually any child abuse. And, finally, the fact that he couldn't identify the student meant that he had no way of actually reporting who was abused.
But, rather than drop the charges, prosecutors kept on going. They added more charges, including possession of child porn (a felony, rather than the misdemeanor) and then later adding charges of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" for asking the original student to send him the photo (which, remember, the principal had told him to archive).
Oei's name was all over the news, accused of child pornography. He was stripped of his job since he couldn't be seen at the school around students. He had to raise money to fight the charges and is now in tremendous debt. Last week, a court finally tossed out the charges, noting that the photo itself isn't even pornographic (let alone all the other problems with the lawsuit).
Child porn is a very real and very serious issue that needs to be dealt with. But we seem to have put together a set of laws that allow for massive reputation-destroying witch hunts, rather than actually tackling the real issues. This story should horrify anyone who thinks that current child porn laws make sense.