Massive Sexting Case Shockingly Results In No Criminal Charges

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

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

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

Fremont County District Attorney Thom LeDoux said the investigation into the scandal at Canon City High School failed to show any adults were involved. None of the 351 images were posted to the Internet, and there was no evidence of coercion or bullying, LeDoux said.
Given what we've seen in other (and much smaller) sexting cases -- where sex offender laws have been twisted to cover consensual interactions between adolescents -- the district attorney's decision to put control of the situation back in parents' hands is a surprise. It will no doubt be the exception that proves the rule.

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

Fortunately, this case is being viewed as a learning opportunity by the school district.
LeDoux said the decision not to prosecute doesn’t condone what the students did and that his office is sending warning letters to all 106 students involved. A total of about 1,000 students attend Canon City High.

He also said the Fremont County School District would offer education about sexting to both students and their parents.
The other possible positive outcome of this situation is that, because of the national attention it received, prosecutors, school administrators and other authority figures may alter their tactics when dealing with similar incidents. Rather than default to the instinctive urge to punish someone, they may decide to handle this with more restraint and common sense.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:01pm

    "Rather than default to the instinctive urge to punish someone, they may decide to handle this with more restraint and common sense."

    Not if the perpetrators aren't one of the the bosses clan.

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:08pm

    To Paraphrase Joseph Stalin ...

    ... One sexting case is a crime. A hundred sexting cases is a statistic.

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

  • identicon
    Pyros, 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:23pm

    One Picture

    If I had one naked picture of my 15 year old girlfriend, I could go to jail.

    If the entire school has a naked photo of my 15 year old girl friend, I guess we can do what ever we want.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:27pm

    Teens Sexting?

    I don't remember this in AT&T's "You Will" commercials. ("...and the company that will bring it to you is AT&T.")

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:30pm

    WHO GAVE THIS MAN A COMMON SENSE PILL INSTEAD OF THE HAPPINESS PILL!!

    STEP NOW OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES!!

    You need some time in a re-education room. The blue one.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:38pm

    Backhanded

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

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

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

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

  • icon
    hij (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:49pm

    You crack me up


    Rather than default to the instinctive urge to punish someone, they may decide to handle this with more restraint and common sense.


    I think I may have just peed myself. "common sense" in the justice system may well be the funniest thing I heard all day. Thank you for a better Friday than usual!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 1:57pm

    apparently the prosecutor isn't up for re-election soon...?

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 11 Dec 2015 @ 2:41pm

    Not punish people for making different choices about their own lives? Unheard of!!! Someone might start to think that "The Man" believes in basic human rights.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 2:42pm

    Let me guess... the suspects were all white?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 2:48pm

    > they may decide to handle this with more restraint and common sense.

    Pics or it didn't happen.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 3:10pm

    The real problem

    What they should have done is outlawed those instant cameras. I mean, they can take a picture and develop it instantly, without having to bring it to the supermarket to be developed. Of course kids are going to take naked pictures of one another. Instexanting is a scourge upon our nation.

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

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 3:46pm

    What?!?

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

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

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

    Get your priorities sorted already.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 7:22pm

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

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

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

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

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2015 @ 8:13am

      Re:

      Guess which states have the highest teen pregnancy rates, its the bible belt. Threats of fire and brimstone do not seem to work, I wonder why.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 12 Dec 2015 @ 8:53am

        Re: Re:

        Because there still exists people stupid enough to think that simply telling kids not to screw around(literally and figuratively) is a valid and effective form of sex education.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 7:32pm

    And the lesson is...

    Kiddy porn is OK for high school students in southern Colorado, as far as law enforcement is concerned. But, if they turn 18 before they graduate do they have to dump their kiddy porn stash at that time, or can they keep it until they graduate?

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Dec 2015 @ 7:50pm

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

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

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

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

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

  • identicon
    David, 12 Dec 2015 @ 1:22am

    You know _why_ common sense prevailed?

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

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

    Yo

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 12 Dec 2015 @ 9:04am

    the district attorney's decision to put control of the situation back in parents' hands is a surprise.

    Now their parents can teach them that their bodies are dirty and shameful, just as God intended...

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

  • identicon
    ED, 12 Dec 2015 @ 11:13am

    What it boils down to is Canon City, likes to pretend no crime exists here. Lived here for 40 years.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2015 @ 6:02pm

    Could porn and no prosecutions?

    103 individuals are swapping kiddie porn and no one is charged?

    I am outraged, won't someone think of the children?!?!!!

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

  • identicon
    Robert, 12 Dec 2015 @ 11:21pm

    From Minor to Adult

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

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2015 @ 2:37pm

      Re: From Minor to Adult

      Undeleted childish mistakes can became major disasters later on in life.

      Deleting them could also be illegal. "Destroying evidence" is a serious crime in and of itself.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 1:04am

      Re: From Minor to Adult

      That said, which is more disastrous, naked pictures which can be passed off as youthful indiscretion, or a life on the sex offenders register?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 4:52am

        Re: Re: From Minor to Adult

        That said, which is more disastrous, naked pictures which can be passed off as youthful indiscretion, or a life on the sex offenders register?

        We're heading towards putting everyone on some kind of "list".

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

  • icon
    SoggyBottoms (profile), 13 Dec 2015 @ 9:56am

    Sexting

    Why can the self-righteous hypocrites leave teens alone. It won't harm them and they'll get over it with no ill effects--except form busy body female teachers who wish they could have done it too.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Dec 2015 @ 9:27pm

      Re: Sexting

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

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

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 8:23am

      Re: Sexting

      ... except form busy body female teachers ...

      Watch out. Your knuckles are draggin'. You should get over that. Remember, your mom is/was female. What's your problem?

      I wonder if all the cops and prosecutors involved here were female too? Doubtful.

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


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