Student Sues Former Principal For Privacy Rights Violation In Showing Surveillance Video Of Her Having Sex

from the privacy-rights? dept

JMG alerts us to a bizarre lawsuit in which a former high school student in Kentucky, who was caught by her principal via surveillance camera having sex with another student, has now sued the (former) principal for violating her "privacy rights," by showing the video to a small group of other teachers, during which he apparently cracked some jokes. Now, there's no doubt that what the principal did sounds creepy and of highly questionable taste and ethics (and from the sound of the article, his actions may have resulted in him no longer working at the school). But it appears that the two students chose to have sex in the school where surveillance cameras were taping them... so I'm at a bit of a loss as to where a privacy right comes in. As JMG notes, the principle's actions sound pretty disgusting, but it's not clear there's a legal issue here.


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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Hmm...

    Perhaps there was some kind of local or state regulation on how surveillance vids would be reviewed and who would have access to them? If by law, only the principle and administrators x, y and z are allowed to view the tape, and the principle has a private screening of it with people outside of that, would THAT be a privacy rights violation?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Sex in a public location is ... public.

     

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      DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 6:07am

      Re: Expectation of privacy

      You're right of course. But I'd like to point something out.

      There is the question of whether she had an expectation of privacy. Most adults would say no. It was a public location.

      There have been rare instances in recorded history, and it is a well known fact, that on occasion, teens sometimes don't make the best decisions. :-) A teen might have had an expectation of privacy.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:12pm

    If two students have sex in a fores...err, school and no one is around do they make any sounds?

     

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      DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 6:10am

      Re:

      What were you trying to ask? Something about would they start a forest fire?

      Your question breaks up in the middle with line noise and is unclear, but does not end with NO CARRIER.

      The part about sound depends on whether the surveillance cameras record sound.

       

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    A Dan (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:12pm

    Odd first sentence

    "Male High School" - what a bizarre name for a school.

     

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    illuminaut (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Big mistake. He should have shown the video to his bowling buddies instead of righteous high school teachers who - even if they thought it was funny - know better than to admit that.

    Legally it sounds dubious, but then again, this is in Kentucky.

     

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    Scote, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:16pm

    Child porn?

    Well, given the broad nature of the nation's child porn laws, if either of the students was a minor, the principal may be guilty of possession and distribution of child porn.

    Given how some overzealous prosecutors have gone nuts over prosecuting teenage girls for possession of topless pictures they took of themselves, it would be really ironic for prosecute rs to ignore the possession of an actual sex tape by a high school principal.

     

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      chris, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:51am

      Re: Child porn?

      I doubt it. As a government official, the principal likely has immunity.

      Funny thing, no matter which way it goes it will be "for the children".

       

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        Manabi (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:35pm

        Re: Re: Child porn?

        That kind of immunity only goes so far, and possession/distribution of something that can be defined as child porn while on the clock falls rather far past the distance the immunity can reach. It's pretty obvious he was already forced to resign (article points out he retired after being confronted about this instance plus accusations he was drunk at a school function), so obviously the district washed their hands of him. Plus it's not like the district attorney's likely to press charges against the school district + the principle since they've already taken some action against the principal. The only person likely to get charged here would be the principal. He will have no immunity if the DA decides to make political hay from the incident.

        As creepy as he sounds I hope that doesn't happen. What he did was wrong, but not at the "destroy the guy's life" level which is what a child porn charge would do.

         

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    TheStupidOne, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    CP Producer

    The better question since the students were under 18 at the time of the filming, did the principal produce child porn via surveillance tape and then distribute said child porn at the viewing party?

     

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      DogBreath, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:41pm

      Re: CP Producer

      I would say he didn't produce it any more than a bank would be responsible for CP if some underage kid flashed their privates to the camera at an ATM.

      I would however bet that this is the schools security video system, thereby giving them ownership and copyright to any video produced with their cameras. My question is: did the principal pay the necessary licensing fee to show this video? If not, he is in for a world of hurt when the MPAA sues him for the unauthorized public showing.

       

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        Paul L (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:16pm

        Re: Re: CP Producer

        Hopefully they didn't have music on in the background or the RIAA will be right there as well!

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 8:30pm

        Re: Re: CP Producer

        Distribution would still apply though wouldn't it?

         

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          Just John (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 9:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

          Did he distribute it?
          I can't honestly see how distribution could be applied, but then again, I am not a lawyer, so someone else may have to verify.

          Seems more like "public performance" may fit better then distribution, unless the principal made copies and handed them out, or uploaded to the internet.

           

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          DandonTRJ (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 11:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

          There's no distribution unless he gave out copies. He definitely performed it for the faculty members; the question would be if that performance was a "public" one under the law. But that's only an issue if the school doesn't own the copyright to the tape. If they do, they can perform the tape however they wish -- you know, aside from the fact that it's probably child porn. But that's obviously a less important issue than the copyright one.

           

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            Just John (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 1:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

            Wish I could vote you down...
            You apparently have missed the points that question CP.

            Simple fact: We don't know. Or was every single senior in your school under the age of 17?

            No one said that copyright is more important that watching underage students in sexual congress. That issue has been brought up more then enough.

            What the entire article is talking about has nothing to do with CP. It has to do with "Privacy Rights".

            So, is it "probably child porn"? Statistically, yes.
            Is it true that it is "child porn"? I don't know, and unless you are more familiar with the case then we see here, neither do you.

            Now when you find the case labeled "for principal facing criminal charges of watching and publicly showing child porn", we can discuss that issue.

            Until then, leave on the horse you rode in on, or go put the response in a thread in this very discussion that is dealing with that topic...

             

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              DandonTRJ (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

              Actually, I think my sarcasm was too subtle. I was trying to mock the attitude that copyright is always the most important thing about a work. Probably should have fleshed that out a little more, I can see how it might be read dickishly. My bad.

               

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                Just John (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 6:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

                Eh, no worries, I had the same thing happen to me the other day on another blog when I tried some light humor. When I reread it after he posted wondering why I was getting so upset, I realized how my comment sounded on paper, not in my head.

                One of the pains of internet communication, where facial expressions, body expression, tone of voice, etc. is missing.

                It could also be I am overly sensitive to CP. My cousin was a victim while she was living in Germany, and I have two beautiful teenage daughters that a pedobear would probably love...
                Coupled by the fact that I now live is Asia, where there is a real problem of "compensated dating", where high school girls basically prostitute themselves so they can get that new smart phone, or LV bag, or whatever. They even go around and stick their phone number on scooters so strange people can call them up for a "date".

                I just take a more realistic view, and realize that over-protecting is just another way to silence people on other issues. After all, if the "plague of CP" was as prevalent as it is sometimes sold to us by those pushing their agendas, wouldn't that mean that we would see naked kids everywhere?

                 

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

              "An 18-year-old Male High School graduate has filed a lawsuit against her former principal, claiming he invited other staff members to watch a surveillance tape of the teen and another student having sex in the school cafeteria in 2009."

              if the plaintiff is 18 today ... the incident happened in 2009 ... the plaintiff was 16 ... legal to have sex(in KY) ... not legal to be filmed (Federal statue!)

              At the very least he was guilty of possession of child porn. He should have destroyed it(no crime was committed by the participants - thus no need to turn it over to law enforcement) as soon as he understood what he was looking at.

               

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            Just John (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 1:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

            Here, let me quote the original article here for you:
            An 18-year-old Male High School graduate has filed a lawsuit against her former principal, claiming he invited other staff members to watch a surveillance tape of the teen and another student having sex in the school cafeteria in 2009.

            So, since when is 18 years old Child Porn?

            So I guess we are left with, leave on the horse you rode in on.

             

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              G Thompson (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 2:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

              If an 18 year old former student filed a lawsuit for something that happened 2 years ago then by simple mathematical subtraction.

              18- 2 = 16

              Therefore comes under Indecent Images (CP). Oh and Doesn't matter if published, distributed or filmed. All that matters is possession of CP that a reasonable person (and a teacher and principal would absolutely know what is and isn't) would know to be CP.

              Whether the child at the time had an expectation of privacy in the area where said sexual act took place, and whether they knew of the camera's (hidden security camera's do exist) is what this case will be all about.

              Though I am still intrigued why the Feds have not been all over this for the Indecent Imaging aspect.

               

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                Just John (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:05am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

                Sorry, I think you are right.

                I looked it over, and got the impression that she was 18 at the time of the indecent. Had to read it a couple times, so either my English is deteriorating here in Taiwan, or they did not make it very clear.

                After reading it over again, it seems that it may in fact be saying she is 18 now, which would make you correct.

                Either way, my issue is not over her age, I think we can all agree that watching an minor engaging in sex is both immoral and illegal.

                The issue I take, and what upsets me, is how DandonTRJ is insinuating we do not care about child porn, and care more about if it violates copyright.

                I doubt if anyone here will argue that child porn is bad. But comments like his just remind me of all the ways in which people are trying to hide behind child porn in ways to take away our other freedoms. It ticks me off when someone is discussing a specific issue, and is followed up by the comment:
                you know, aside from the fact that it's probably child porn. But that's obviously a less important issue than the copyright one

                making it look like anyone actually discussing the applied topic (privacy rights) means that we do not care about other issues...especially when they are already addressed in several other threads in this various topic.

                 

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                  chris, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:01am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

                  I thought it was an intelligently worded response to a question about copyright asked by someone else.

                  Also, when a prosecution is having trouble getting one charge to stick they will often hunt around for other possible violations.

                   

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                    DogBreath, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:00am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

                    Also, when a prosecution is having trouble getting one charge to stick they will often hunt around for other possible violations.

                    The truth of that statement can be clearly demonstrated by the case of Al Capone, who after all the major criminal activity he was involved in, was only convicted of tax evasion.

                     

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                  Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 8:09am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

                  I looked it over, and got the impression that she was 18 at the time of the indecent.

                  One of the funnier typos I've seen; if it's not a typo, it's still funny.

                   

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        Any Mouse (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 5:42am

        Re: Re: CP Producer

        Merely possessing CP is a crime, so whether he distributed or not, created or not, does not matter.

         

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          ClarkeyBalboa (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

          There must be some loophole for surveillance footage. I think it is completely wrong that he showed it to a group of teachers in some private screening. If he was going to show it to anyone, it should have been the police. But I don't think seeing something like this while watching surveillance footage should be an indictable offense. That would be the same to me as if the video was entered into evidence and played for the judge and both parties (and possibly jury). Once again, completely wrong and possibly illegal to host a private screening of this.

           

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          Just John (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: CP Producer

          Actually, it does matter.
          You realize you can be guilty of more then one crime, and be tried civilly on more then one issue, right?

          In fact, if this is CP (Which seems to be the facts as of this point), he will probably receive different levels of sentences depending on what all he can be charged with.

          In fact, you can look at many different levels of crime here:
          Possession
          Public display
          Distribution
          Creation (Although it was an automated system, please keep in mind from the case review, it appears he recorded it on a system outside the main surveillance storage, on his office, so this might be able to be argued)

          Don't mitigate by saying "This is the biggest crime, so all others don't matter".

           

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      Bill, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:11am

      Re: CP Producer

      It would depend on what was able to be seen. The mere fact that they were engaging in sexual activity that was caught on camera doesn't make it CP unless you could see their pieces/parts.

       

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    Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    It's an Arguable Case, at Least

    I'm not sure I would scare-quote "privacy rights" here. The common law cause of action against disclosure of private facts could well apply.

    It'll be an open question based on the specific location and time whether it was a public place. If it was a public place or semi-public place, that doesn't necessarily mean that everything that can happen there is fair game for taping and replaying for an audience that doesn't have a legitimate interest in seeing the footage.

    Surveillance cameras are meant to secure school grounds and students, which could imply a limitation on the use of the footage to such purposes. Indeed, the principal had at least an ethical obligation to protect the students, including from each other (and their mutually irresponsible actions), which he did not do. Instead, he used the surveillance camera footage to exploit these young people's ardor for the entertainment of himself and others.

    This is not something what would be laughed out of court, and the principal's behavior is so bad relative to his official position and responsibilities that this case has a pretty good chance of success on the merits if the plaintiff's version of events is substantially true.

    This seems like a privacy case, much more real than "who is tracking me so they can advertise to me based on my interest in golf."

     

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      Peter S. Chamberlain (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 1:26pm

      Re: It's an Arguable Case, at Least

      Jim Harper, whoever he is, is the first poster here who evidenced a knowledge and understanding of privacy law, and his other comments I looked up checking on him here appear sound, too. I practiced law, including privacy issues, for 35 years. Picking a jury might be a delicate and tricky job, but I hope the female student sues, if only to clarify some law, but I think her cause of action for invasion is state rather than federal subject matter, and I would rather bet on a turtle race than any, and especially this, lawsuit. The young woman was very negligent here, as the court said in the case of the human toe in the chewing tobacco we studied, in doing this on camera I presume the students knew existed and in any event at school where anyone might walk in, and this was presumably againstg some broad school rule (assuming there is anything not prohibited by the rules of the average public school) but showing the pictures was calculated to cause severe emotional distress even to a person of ordinary sensibilities, outrageous, cruel, etc. I'd fire him if I were on the board.

       

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    Austin (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Wrong Court

    Whether or not this is child porn is decided in a criminal court. This is a civil lawsuit brought by the girl in the tape. It is not a criminal charge.

    That said, to prove almost any civil case of this nature, the girl must show damages. She must show how this somehow cost her something. Even if it's only emotional trauma, she has to prove that in some way she deserves money.

    So...how did the principal showing this to his co-workers damage the girl? It's embarrassing, sure, but embarrassment isn't a reason to sue unless it lead to medical bills from seeing a psychologist or some other documented expense. Under what legal theory is this girl seeking relief?

    Seems to me #8 and #9 inadvertently hit the nail on the head here. There's a very credible criminal child porn case. I would say not for production, since the surveillance system is obviously automated. However, most certainly both for possession and distribution. Nevertheless, unless there's something we haven't been told, this girl has no civil case.

    She should drop the lawsuit ASAP and go to the cops, and get him prosecuted criminally. That has a vastly greater chance of resulting in the desirable outcome, i.e. punishing the guy.

    Also, not to denigrate the victim here, but this sounds suspiciously like a shakedown. Yes, the guy is a creep, but if she was genuinely harmed, she should handle this criminally for the reasons above. Of course, even though it's more likely to work, it won't result in any money for the girl. The fact that she waited (at least?) a year and is suing him in civil court now speaks volumes to me. Sounds like someone who is trying to turn this around and profit from what happened.

     

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      Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Wrong Court

      +1

      Damages are an issue, but I can see a high-schooler being mortified and deeply affected in the quality of her life and relationships by this kind of exposure. The law of the state dictates whether some kind of physical manifestation of mental or emotional injury is required.

       

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        btrussell (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 12:54am

        Re: Re: Wrong Court

        What exposure is that?


        Having story published on a tech blog? Newspaper? that she is suing a former Principal who saw her fornicating via a security camera?

        I never heard of this before, would I have heard about it if she wasn't making a case?

        Not likely.

        16 yrs old. Responsible enough to drive, but not enough to know when and where to remove clothing and fornicate?

        You people and your precious snowflakes.

        If I have a daughter, I hope I instill a little more class in her than that.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:03pm

      Re: Wrong Court

      So what if it's a money grab? The perp will be punished with a financial loss and the victim receives some compensation.

      If instead he's criminally prosecuted, the courts are engaged and (ideally) he's incarcerated. Who's going to pay for that? Not the perp, it'll be the taxpayers.

      Again, so what if it's a shakedown, it's a justified one that will directly benefit the victim and save taxpayers uncounted dollars.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:17pm

        Re: Re: Wrong Court

        Again, so what if it's a shakedown, it's a justified one that will directly benefit the victim and save taxpayers uncounted dollars.

        Whether or not it's justified is a matter of opinion. In my opinion there is no victim here, as the girl performed the act in a public location with no expectation of privacy, in view of mounted cameras. Now that suing the principal isn't a valid option as he may of incurred damages beyond that she would have sustained had someone simply walked in on them.

         

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        Nicedoggy, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:34am

        Re: Re: Wrong Court

        Benefit the victim?

        Debatable, what if the supposed victim is being deprived of the natural incentives to not be dumb in the future? What if society is being deprived of needed examples of things that could go wrong?

        Psychological damage or Psychological incentive?

        They guy was creepy, but the girl was stupid and equally creepy, what kind of person have sex in open public spaces?

        If it was and adult doing that would people care about the feeling of that person?

        Will she grow up to let her curtains open when she changes her clothes and accuse others of invading her privacy when she failed to secure it properly?

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:28pm

      Re: Wrong Court

      Question for you: suppose that this IS pursued in criminal court -- under the applicable child pornography statutes. And suppose that results in a conviction. Does the student now have a stronger case back in civil court? Or is that outcome irrelevant?

       

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        Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:13pm

        Re: Re: Wrong Court

        I would say that the case does get stronger if there's a child pornography conviction. It would show that the community regards people of that young age deserving of protection, even from their own actions. Revealing the intimate behavior of a vulnerable person is more outrageous than of a non-vulnerable person. Stronger case.

         

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      Almost Anonymous (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:52am

      Re: Wrong Court

      """That said, to prove almost any civil case of this nature, the girl must show damages."""

      The principle showed the movie for free! And there were multiple people in the room, so it was also a public performance! By **AA rules, she can claim triple the gross national product of Uganda in damages!

      Oh, and while I'm at it: Won't you think of the children???

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    think 'child porn'

     

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    keniri, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:16pm

    Pardon me, but why isn't the former principle being charged with the distribution of child pornography. High School students? Pardon me, but that means that they are minors and since the principle was freely showing the videotape to other faculty teachers, that means that he's guilty of distributing child porn.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:04pm

      Re:

      Legal age of consent is 16 in Kentucky, it's only child "pornography" if they are under age. It's only distribution if he showed it to people who were not approved to view the security footage set forth in the policies of the Department of Education.

      However morally questionable his actions may have been doesn't necessarily mean they're illegal.

       

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        PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:11pm

        Re: Re:

        Wait. It might not be child porn, but it's definitely pornography involving someone who has not signed a release form. I'm pretty sure that's illegal.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just because it's sexually related material on media doesn't mean it is pornography. Again, this took place in a public facility and therefor no consent is needed.

          If someone were to secretly videotape you and your spouse having sex in your home, would you call that pornographic? The fact it was in the privacy of your residence is where the legality lies.

           

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            PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "If someone were to secretly videotape you and your spouse having sex in your home, would you call that pornographic?"

            Yes.

             

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        G Thompson (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 2:39am

        Re: Re:

        The Supreme Court of America and USA Federal Law totally disagrees with you

        In the USA, like most countries nowadays, a minor is legally defined as any person under the age of 18 years.

        The age of consent has absolutely nothing to do with Indecent images.

        You might like to read the whole of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A (a) to learn all about how the Principal, and maybe the teachers, and sadly even maybe the students themselves (if they knew of the cameras..Stupidity I know) could be charged with distribution, possession, and publication of CP

         

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          DogBreath, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          sadly even maybe the students themselves

          That would be one hell of a backfire for the students. I hope the students realize that anything they say in civil court can be used to convict them in a criminal case of "producing" child porn.

          She may or may not get her "privacy was violated" money in civil court, but end up as a registered sex offender for the rest of her life.

           

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    Joe, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:24pm

    I think there was an 'expectation of privacy'. I don't think the kids here said - hey look a camera, let's do it in front of it. more likely they weren't thinking that much at all. I have a vague memory of a case a while back of a couple having sex in a car in a 'lovers lane' type setting. They were busted by a cop, but the judge said that even though it was a public place, it was secluded, at night so there was a reasonable expectation of privacy. I'd see something similar here. Also, the principal is a dick.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:58pm

      Re:

      Lover's lane type settings don't have cameras, schools do. I would argue that any reasonable person would assume school grounds would be very likely to have surveillance cameras all over them. As far as I know 'I don't think the way a reasonable person thinks and I didn't think there would be any cameras' is not acceptable.

      Principal might be a dick but there's a possibility he didn't do anything criminal or tortfeasant.

       

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      Rekrul, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:21pm

      Re:

      I think there was an 'expectation of privacy'. I don't think the kids here said - hey look a camera, let's do it in front of it. more likely they weren't thinking that much at all. I have a vague memory of a case a while back of a couple having sex in a car in a 'lovers lane' type setting. They were busted by a cop, but the judge said that even though it was a public place, it was secluded, at night so there was a reasonable expectation of privacy. I'd see something similar here.

      They did it in the school cafeteria, a large, open room. Even though it was after school, they'd have to be pretty stupid to think that such a location was private. While students and faculty might not normally go in there after school, there are still janitors cleaning and emptying garbage cans, security personnel, and maybe other students still hanging around, like they were.

       

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        PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:05am

        Re: Re:

        It's not the location that is private or not. It is the expectation of privacy that matters. I would not expect anyone to see whatever I was doing alone in the cafeteria after school when I can see no-one looking at me. Also, if the janitor walks in, you can stop what you are doing. If you don't realize there is a camera trained on you, you don't have the same opportunity to stop.

         

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          Rekrul, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 8:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not the location that is private or not. It is the expectation of privacy that matters. I would not expect anyone to see whatever I was doing alone in the cafeteria after school when I can see no-one looking at me. Also, if the janitor walks in, you can stop what you are doing.

          How can you expect an open room in a public school to be private? As for stopping what you're doing if someone walks in, how do two people in the middle of having sex, jump up and fix their clothes without the other person seeing?

           

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          btrussell (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You must be a criminal.


          I would not expect anyone to see whatever I was doing alone in the street after dark when I can see no-one looking at me.

          lol

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:54pm

    Privacy rights in a public spot?

    If they were allowed to be there at that time, then everyone was allowed to be there, so it was a public place and they have very few privacy rights. If they were not allowed to be there... do you really have privacy rights while trespassing?

    The kids are mortified? They had sex in school, in front of a camera. The principal was out of line, sure. But they should have seen this coming.

     

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      Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:07pm

      Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

      A school is not accessible to everyone. And where on earth do you get the idea that you lose privacy rights if you trespass? The penalty for trespass is not waiver of your tort rights. Better to remain silent and let people think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

       

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        btrussell (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 7:28pm

        Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

        Who can't go into a school?

         

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          Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 10:03pm

          Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

          My experience as a public school student was that schools are generally open to the students who attend them, to parents at times, and to teachers, administrators, staff, and coaches. Strangers to the school are escorted off the premises if found.

          Do others believe that school property is open to visitation by anyone regardless of purpose? I doubt it, considering what it would that do to the functioning of the school.

           

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            btrussell (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 2:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

            I figure if I decide to enroll my child in a school tomorrow, assuming it is regular school year and not summer break, I will waltz right into the school, no problem.

             

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              Jim Harper (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

              You might be surprised to find that even parents aren't given all-day every-day access to schools. With "and not summer break" you appear to admit that a school is not a beach or public park, wide open to anyone who has the notion of stepping foot on its soil.

               

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                btrussell (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:47pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

                School is for kids during the day.

                I've never seen anyone booted off of school property for say, practicing golf, after school hours.

                 

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              John Fenderson (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

              And unless you waltz directly to the administrative office, you will be waltzed right off of the property.

              The public does not get free access to school grounds, even if they have students enrolled in the school or are intending to enroll them. There are signs on every external door proclaiming this: "All visitors must report directly to the office". This means you must go to the office and get permission to be at the school. Without that permission, you're trespassing, regardless of things like if you have kids enrolled in the school.

              Schools are not a public space in the sense that shopping malls or public parks are. They are restricted spaces open only to those who have express permission.

               

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                btrussell (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:52pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

                Not my experience here in Canada.

                Former students used to drop into our classes unannounced to say hi to teachers. I'm talking students who had graduated a decade earlier.

                We certainly didn't call in the swat team. Nor were they told to GTFO.

                 

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:05am

        Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

        The penalty for trespass is not waiver of your tort rights.

        It sure as heck is and in many cases, it's a waiver of your right to life as well.

         

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          Jim Harper (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:50am

          Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

          No. It's really not. If someone walks up your driveway and won't leave on your command, you don't get to assault or batter that person. You violate their still-existing rights if you do. And if you shoot the person, you will go down for murder exactly as if you shot them in a public street. With "right to life," you refer to the narrow case (that's one case, not "many") when deadly force is used in defense of the home. I believe the rule survives in some states, and narrowly tailored it's one I support, but the right to use deadly force in defense of home is not part of a general waiver of all rights that occurs when someone commits a trespass. Back to the books (which I must say with some irony because you haven't cracked the books in the first instance ;-)

           

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            btrussell (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 8:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

            "If someone walks up your driveway and won't leave on your command, you don't get to assault or batter that person."

            Depends on what you call assault.

            If I ask you to leave my property and you do not leave, I will put my hands on you, steering you in the right direction off of my property. If you resist, I will use more force.

            I would make a citizens arrest and call the police before I thought of shooting you though. Although I have also asked people to leave while holding a rifle in my hands(I don't like having to call police). They left. In case it isn't obvious, was not in a city/town.

            So yes, if touching you is assault, then I may assault you if you do not leave after being asked to do so. You may go call police after if you like. Tell them you refused to leave my property and I pushed you off of it and you want me charged with assault. Go ahead. Make my day.

             

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        Nicedoggy, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:54am

        Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

        I'm not giving any burglar the privacy he needs to conduct his private business.

         

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        Almost Anonymous (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:57am

        Re: Re: Privacy rights in a public spot?

        """And where on earth do you get the idea that you lose privacy rights if you trespass? The penalty for trespass is not waiver of your tort rights."""

        Perhaps not a "waiver" per se, but there is a principle called "clean hands". It basically means that if you're riding dirty, don't come to court expecting them to help you out. If you're pot deal goes south, you can't sue about it in court. If you're trespassing, perhaps you can't sue about damage to your privacy rights?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 4:59pm

    First - READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE.

    Second, having sex at a public school in a public facility is PUBLIC. The students are complete idiots if they think having sex in the school cafeteria won't result in the possibility of them being seen.

    The security camera did precisely what it was meant to do by recording any unwarranted conduct. It caught two students acting inappropriately and being an automated system the retention of the video could probably only be accessed by approved individuals.

    The actions of the principle seem to be completely out-of-line and should most certainly be brought before a court of law both criminal and civil. Any disciplinary action should have been taken immediately by detaining the students and contacting their parents if they were under the age of 16 (legal age of consent in Kentucky). If they were 16 or older, then the parents wouldn't necessarily have to be contacted, though I see no reason why they shouldn't have been anyway.

    Furthermore, there is no child pornography grounds if the students were of legal age and no privacy rights violations for being in a public place.

    The biggest problem I see (other than the dirtbag principle) is why didn't any of the other faculty members stop or confront the principle the second they realized what the content of the video entailed? If they were truly "offended" they should have said something or contacted the authorities immediately - I would hope none of them are still employed with anything having to do with the supervision of children.

    In any case, it's the students own fault for doing a stupid thing in a public place and should have to deal with the consequence of a poor decision. The girl suing likely has no grounds for a civil suit of privacy rights violation, as it was in a public place. The principle in all reality may or may not be in violation of any actual law, that would mostly be left up to the litigation surrounding the Department of Education and what type of action is allowed for such circumstances as those surrounding this incident.

    If the same thing were to happen on a college campus, I doubt there would be as much fuss about this as everyone is making. Would it be illegal for the chief administrator to distribute a video of a consenting couple of legal age having intercourse in a public place? Most likely no, but it would certainly call the character of the individual into question and whether or not they are fit for the position depending on the moral grounds set forth by the governing body of the institution.

    The fact that it took place in a government facility is probably the only thing that can have any legal standing, anything else involved in the case probably will be dismissed.

     

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      Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:10pm

      Re:

      You should read your own post. You dismiss the case, saying that the students should have to deal with the consequences, and also say that the principal should be brought into civil court. Which is it? You can't have it both ways. Better to remain silent and let people think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:38pm

        Re: Re:

        What I said, is all parties involved should have to face the consequence of their actions.

        I dismissed the claim that just because the act of having sex was recorded that it's a privacy violation, the fact remains it was in a public facility and on that basis alone it may not have sufficient standing for a privacy rights violation.

        However, the position of the principal entails a certain level of guardianship and more importantly to the scrutiny of personally sensitive material. Disseminating the addresses and social security numbers of students to people who do not have administrative access to that kind of information is a violation of privacy rights. If the school had similar privacy protections relating to the footage captured by their surveillance systems, and the principle violated those protections by releasing the information to unauthorized parties then the student has sufficient grounds to seek a civil suit against him.

        Perhaps it is you who might wish to take Mark Twain's advice.

         

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          Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 10:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If the principal is to face the consequences of his actions, as you say, and among those consequences is appearing in civil court, as you say, just who else is going to bring him to civil court than the kids whose images he made into a titillating movie-show? You dismissed their grounds for suit and backed their suit in the same comment.

           

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            Nicedoggy, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 5:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Consequences are not only possible in a court of law.

            He lost his job, that is a negative consequence for him.
            His reputation is tarnish in that community that is a negative consequence for him.

            You want more bad consequences? why?

             

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            Nicedoggy, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 5:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Maybe he should be allowed to sue the creepy teenagers for privacy too after all if the law will do all the work for society there is no grounds for them to spread the word of his actions to anybody else right?

             

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    David Good (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:01pm

    Inappropriate? Creepy? Maybe.

    Well, the fact that it was in school and the footage was surveillance cameras says it won't go far. That means the footage belongs to the school. He showed it to other teachers? Well, wouldn't it be infinitely creepier if he didn't? I mean, let's take doctors for example. If a doctor is examining a patient of the opposite sex, I believe they are required to have another person present (such as a nurse). So, I think it would be worse if the principal watched the video by himself.

    The comments were inapproprate for sure, but I don't know if he should lose his job.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:14pm

      Re: Inappropriate? Creepy? Maybe.

      If you people would ever read....

      The principle DID watch the video himself, and instead of stopping the students whilst in the act he continued to observe them and THEN decided to intervene. He then showed the video to other faculty members for what appears to be only for his own amusement, as the article reports no disciplinary action was taken by the school.

      Doctors are not REQUIRED to have anyone else in the room with them while doing clinical examinations, in this day in age of sexual harassment sue-happy individuals it just makes sense - mostly it's just to provide the patient with an extra sense of security or comfort.

       

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        TechDan (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 9:16pm

        Re: Re: Inappropriate? Creepy? Maybe.

        Most surveillance cameras in school don't work that way.

        Regardless of the general notions of security, the cameras in a school are not intended to stop particular instances of wrongdoing, but to provide evidence of wrongdoing after the fact. At my old high school, for instance, there were 37 functioning surveillance cameras and 12 dummies (mostly directly outside the bathrooms). Those numbers may have changes by now, but there was rarely anyone monitoring those in real-time, and of the 37 feeds, only 8 were ever monitored for any length of time at all.

        The point of the cameras was for footage to be reviewed later to identify any troublemakers after they caused the trouble. If this Kentucky school is anything like mine, then the principal likely found the footage while reviewing the footage after the fact, and it would be far more creepy for him not to share the footage.

        Anyway, your suggestion that he should have stopped the act in progress is laughable at best, and he probably had no reason to believe that a routine review of security tape would contain anything questionable beyond relatively standard high school hijinks.

         

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          TechDan (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 9:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Inappropriate? Creepy? Maybe.

          Okay on the off chance that someone replies to this after having read the article, which I did, I'm going to present a hypothetical situation, followed by a quote from the linked article that the situation could fall fit:

          Scene: Hallway - After school hours
          A mild mannered principal is making his rounds making sure that students have finally left campus after any after school sports and/or tutoring sessions. Noticing a male and female student still in the cafeteria, he confronts them, takes their names down and escorts them of the premises.
          Having ensured that they have left, he heads to the security office and begins to review the tape of the cafeteria to determine what had occurred. To his shock, horror, and then bemusement, he finds that they were having sexual intercourse. He has already sent the two students home and will deal with the disciplinary issues the next day. Being an idiot (hey, he is a high school principal), he decides to show the footage to some faculty members the next day.

          End Scene

           

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      PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:18am

      Re: Inappropriate? Creepy? Maybe.

      "He showed it to other teachers? Well, wouldn't it be infinitely creepier if he didn't?"

      No. If he decided that disciplining the students was necessary, he should have told the other people in charge of handling such cases and shown them the video so they could see for themselves. It was completely unnecessary and inappropriate to show a bunch of random teachers.

      "If a doctor is examining a patient of the opposite sex, I believe they are required to have another person present (such as a nurse)."

      My doctor is of the opposite sex and she examines me without a male nurse present. I know several women who go to male doctors who examine them without a female nurse present. What kind of doctor do you go to?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    How about child pron charges for showing the video of children having sex to others.
    This sounds like dissemination of child porn to me.
    It's not that the children were caught on tape and then subjugated to an administrative school process as a result, but that this school principal then went on to show the child porn video to others.
    I would think that the privacy issue would come from the non administrative exposition of the child porn video itself.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:31pm

      Re:

      "I would think that the privacy issue would come from the non administrative exposition of the child porn video itself."

      So are you suggesting there wouldn't be a privacy issue if they were of legal age? (By the way it's 16 in Kentucky)

      The privacy issue only lies in whether or not the video was taken in a public or private setting, seeing as they were filmed in the school cafeteria it was most certainly a public setting.

      Should anyone be having sex in a school? No.
      Should any faculty of a school be showing sexually explicit material in a school? Most certainly not.

      Both parties were in the wrong, but it's possible the only illegal act was the students having sex in a public place.

       

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    Tom Landry (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    God forbid a little dark humor is used to lighten an uncomfortable situation.

    We've become a nation of oversensitive babies.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:35pm

    Presence of a video camera doesn't invalidate rights.

    These are presumably minors, and in any case, the principal has a positive duty to /protect/ them against their own stupidity by NOT publicizing this to any greater degree than necessary. -- As to the rest, just sum it up as by common law any person has a right to assume SOME privacy even in manifestly public places, and certainly students and their parents have a right to be outraged, and certainly there are damages to reputation as CLEARLY SHOWN by use in the source of the phrase "18-year-old Male High School graduate" rather than splashing name all over.

    So there was obvious wrong-doing, and ARE obvious damages, and to hell with legalistic weenies who say there aren't.

    And by the way, Mike and others: don't use "principle" when you mean "principal". Mike, as usual wishy-washy, used BOTH: "... principal ... principal ... principle's"

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:53pm

      Re: Presence of a video camera doesn't invalidate rights.

      So by your logic just because I FEEL there are damages I can sue you for slander for calling me a weenie because I choose to side on the basis of legality rather than morality?

      The only damages to reputation are because of the actions of the individual who CHOSE to have sex in their own school. If they were that concerned with their reputation they shouldn't have done such a thing in such a place.

      What about the princpal? How about his reputation? Why does he have to face the consequence of his action and have his name plastered all over the headlines while the students do not?

      I don't think anyone was doing anything they should have been. Wrong-doing was enacted by all parties and any recourse for those actions should have to be faced, especially if they violate any law.

       

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        Jim Harper (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:24pm

        Re: Re: Presence of a video camera doesn't invalidate rights.

        Under the privacy torts, there is not an "all bets are off" rule, as many commenters here think. If you've done something wrong or odd, even in a public place, someone else doesn't get to advertise it as far and wide as they please. There is a limit to how far and wide they can advertise it, and the principal of the school arguably exceeded that limit.

         

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          Nicedoggy, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Presence of a video camera doesn't invalidate rights.

          That is the problem with the law.

          There may be some instances where it may be inappropriate to spread that, but for the most part society takes care of that problem by its own self mechanism, the law should not be involved at all.

           

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          Nicedoggy, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Presence of a video camera doesn't invalidate rights.

          When I say this I'm thinking of the many times law enforcement tried to jail people for releasing videos of them while working.

           

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          DogBreath, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:20am

          Re: Re: Re: Presence of a video camera doesn't invalidate rights.

          Kentucky recognizes four privacy torts

          I would not be surprised if the only thing the girl will end up with after the lawsuit is "modeling fees".

           

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    keniri, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    While the surveillance cameras did their job, the Principle is definitely guilty of distributing the video as child porn because he took the video and showed it to other adult teachers.

    He should have turned the video over to law enforcement, that was his legal responsibility. Since he allowed other adults to watch it, he's guilty of child porn because he went over the line.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:15pm

      Re:

      Good god people.. learn at least some form of emotional restraint, and perhaps how the legal system works (innocent until proven guilty ring any bells??).

      The legal age of consent in the state in which this incident happened is 16. Most likely these kids were at least 16 or older. The only reason law enforcement personnel should become involved is if a crime took place - having sex in a public facility most likely was illegal and the principle should have mad the appropriate decision to report the incident, allegedly he chose not to and only made the situation worse. Otherwise, it's under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and what type of disciplinary action should be taken against students violating school rules.

       

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        btr1701 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 7:01pm

        Re: Re:

        > The legal age of consent in the state in which this incident
        > happened is 16. Most likely these kids were at least 16 or older.

        Interestingly, a state's legal age of consent laws are irrelevant when it comes to video depictions of sex. Federal law requires a person to be 18 or older before they can legally appear on camera performing sex acts. So even though 16-year-olds can legally have sex with each other, they legally be filmed doing it, nor can others view/distribute those videos if they exist.

         

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      PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:20am

      Re:

      OK, it appears the kids were 18. Can we drop the whole child porn issue? If this had been a childporn case, the prosecutors would have jumped on it as fast as possible.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:12pm

    People are just stupid. How do you expect to have sex in a public place WITH cameras installed and still have an expectation of privacy? Parents, you are failing with your children.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:53pm

    He should be charged with child porn. And on that note, goodbye techdirt. I was expecting a reasonable, ethical argument against over-reaching surveillance and right violations (more like denials) of minors -- instead it's a typical neo-conservative defense of the guilty party. What happened to you? I used to find out countless things about diebold voter fraud and challenges to claimed transparency by the authoritarians.

    Instead this shit? pff. Just another corporate blog.

     

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      Almost Anonymous (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      I know I shouldn't feed the trolls but...

      Oh noes, we're going to lose an anonymous coward's invaluable input?

      In the immortal words of Mötley Crue: Don't go away mad...

       

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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 6:58pm

    Privacy

    Just because they did it in an area under surveillance, doesn't mean the entity (in this case the school) can hold a special showing of that video and invite people who wouldn't normally have a need to view surveillance footage, for no other reason than its entertainment value and to mock the person in it.

    And I don't know that it was necessarily established that the teens knew their choice of sex venue was under surveillance at the time they did it.

     

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    Just John (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 7:23pm

    @AC 42

    I at first wanted to call you an idiot, but then decided not to call you an idiot, so that you would realize I am not attacking you, just personally thinking your logic makes me feel your an idiot.

    He was reporting the issue, and while yes, normally we see some sort of feelings come out on articles, you realize he may not view all articles the same way.

    Maybe he has not yet formed his opinion, so that is left out? I don't know, I am guessing, same as you.
    I also saw no defense coming in, of anyone, nor any allegations.

    It seems more to me there was neutrality (Other then the fact we know Mike views it as "creepy").

    As for those who are claiming child porn issues, while my knee-jerk reaction was the same, after I thought about it, I came to realize that, not all people in high school are underage.
    In fact, a good many of the seniors are 18 years old, so without more information, we cannot automatically cry "Child Porn!"

    As for the morality, yes, I think most of us will rationally think of it as morally wrong. After all, I think most people view that when something is for purpose a (security), and people use it for purpose b (entertainment), there is an conflict of interest.

    While I think it is fair to say that this could potentially go either way (After all, no matter what laws are on the books, this is civil and we have no guarantee on how a judge will view the situation, not like judges have not twisted various laws and rulings to fit their ideas in the past).

    I think it is also fair to say that the students involved made a bad choice, and that the principal also made a bad choice.

    Although I do wonder, would we apply the same criteria if the principal walked into the cafeteria and recorded it on his phone? Or if the security guard was looking at the tape? What about if it got "leaked" to the internet? Makes me wonder about other situations like this (And all those internet videos that are "leaked" private videos, or people secretly recording).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 7:38pm

    Maybe she could get the DA/AG to charge the principal for distributing/dissementating child porn if the student was under 18?

     

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    Jesse (profile), Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 10:43pm

    If parents can be charged with making child porn for developing pictures of their kids in the bath, how is this not?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 4:05am

    it's not clear there's a legal issue here

    Uhm, that matters because? You seem to forget you live in a "sue now ask questions later" world. Anywhere else it would matter... not in the almighty US of Fail.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:51am

    Public showing or distrobution of pornographic materials involving minors. --nuff said its against the law in ALL US states.It wasn't him and the security guard, whom would have had to see it al though just a second or tw to take action against the kids involved , he invited others and cracked jokes crossing the line.

     

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    James G. Witte (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 4:59am

    Reading this, I have 2 questions:
    1) Has the school Administration(teachers, principal and staff) made it known that surveillance equipment is active on the school grounds?

    - If it was known, then the kids were trying to get caught and there is no expectation of privacy.

    2) How old are these high school kids?

    - If the kids were not 18, the teachers and principal should be thankful the State isn't coming after them for watching kiddie porn and the principal should be thankful the State isn't coming after him for distributing it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 6:50am

    ew

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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