‘Sexting’ teenagers face child-porn charges

teenagers

After his former girlfriend taunted him, Phillip Alpert remembered the nude photos she e-mailed to him while they were dating.

He took revenge with an electronic blast — e-mailing the photos of the 16-year-old girl to more than 70 people, including her parents, grandparents and teachers.

Three days later, Alpert, then 18, was charged with transmitting child pornography. Today Alpert is serving five years of probation for the crime, and he is registered as a sex offender — a label he must carry at least until he is 43.

and —

A U.S. judge on Monday barred a Pennsylvania prosecutor from filing child pornography charges against three teenage girls caught with sexually suggestive pictures of themselves on their cell phones.

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Google ‘sexting’ and you’ll get many stories. What say you bloggers? Does this seem fair — the girls are innocent, the guys in big trouble for many years? And, aren’t you glad you aren’t young in today’s world?

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “‘Sexting’ teenagers face child-porn charges

  1. The revenge actions taken by the jilted Lothario are, unfortunately, squarely within the provisions of most child porn statutes. He, as an adult, used an instrumentality of interstate commerce to transmit nude pictures of a minor to many others, which pictures might be sexually gratifying in their appearance. Although his actions most definitely are not those intended to be proscribed and punished under the statute, as a matter of construction of the statute, he violated it, and, (I think) the statute is one of strict liability; intent doesn’t matter.

    BTW, the former girlfriend likely violated the statute by emailing the photos to the defendant, but that’s a closer case.

    Regarding the Pennsylvania matter: there appears, from the brief bit posted, a lack of proof that the pictures were ever transmitted to anyone, and as the pictures were of the individuals themselves, no proof existed that they were sent over the air to them, thus depriving the court of jurisdiction, not to mention taking the case outside the acts proscribed by the statute. Again, a statutory construction distinction.

    Is this fair? In the words of one of my first year law professors, “Who cares if it’s fair; it’s the law”.

  2. Thinking a bit more about the three Pennsylvania girls, one could make a First Amendment argument about their possession of nude photos of themselves. It does get a bit murky here, however; who was the photographer?

    What I’m struggling to articulate is the “free expression” concept in the young women posing nude, which would clearly apply if they were adults. There is the state interest (parens patriae) in protecting minors (who are as a matter of law deemed legally incompetent) from their own actions. If the photographer was someone other than themselves, and especially if the photographer was an adult, then the First Amendment argument gets a bit more difficult to make in light of the provisions of child porn statutes; not impossible, just more difficult.

    Ah, Constitutional scholarship; what every lawyer fancies him or herself equipped to do, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary.

  3. lilacluvr

    What I want to know is where did these teenagers get the idea that this behavior is okay? Do they not realize that once a picture is on the Internet, it is always there somewhere in their past to possibly come back to haunt them later on in life.

    I just cannot imagine myself at 16 even thinking of sending nude pictures of myself to my boyfriend or anyone else.

    Like I stated before, I am not a Puritan but then when did the rules of common decency, or common sense, change?

  4. Don’t have an answer to your questions, lilac.

    I’ve talked with the younger about the rules changing; she (at the ripe old age of 23) tells me she doesn’t understand it, nor does she know when the rules changed. I think I’ve bragged on her involvement with the student group at her college, the name of which is something like Students Against Sexual Assault and Violence, and her sensitivity to the consequences of having nude pictures floating around may have been heightened by her involvement with that group, but she (as do I, and obviously you) just cannot understand what these young folks are trying to accomplish with the pictures.

    There has definitely been a “sea change” in the way these things are looked at by younger folks. I just don’t get it at all.

  5. Do your children use wikipedia for homework?
    Just go there and type in penis or vagina.
    Gee, looks as bad as ‘sexting’.

  6. lilacluvr

    Maybe there are more young people like your daughter but we don’t hear about them because they are not making the news?

    I’d like to think so…

  7. tosmarttobegop

    News is only now reaching the reality, for more years then I know of both girls and boys have been using the media to sent nude photos of themselves to each other. Web cams have been being used for this since they came to being. OMG imagine how many pictures were made when the instamatic came to be?

    The only saving grace for these girls and boys is that every minute of every day there are thousands putting them on the net. Millions every years. They will get about thirty seconds notice then become lost in the millions already out there.

    As to the use of existing laws concerning Child porn, Child porn according to the Supreme Court is not simply nudity of some one under the age of consent. It must involve the touching in a sexual manner, either the child touching themselves or someone else touching them. Or the pose must be in such a manner that it’s intent is to cause arousal. Such as the exposure of the genitals in an open and meaningful way.
    (I had a case I investigated when I was a L.E.O.

    It kind of the catch 22, to charge a minor with the distribution of Child porn for sending or posting a nude picture of themselves. Something that if they were above the age of 18 would not be illegal but because they are below the age they are illegal pictures is to say they do have the conscious ability to understand and commit a crime. So then it would follow that all children who have appeared in any Child Porn is also guilty for having posed for it. Only in the case where forced posing is evident would the claim be valid that they were an unwilling victim.

    But you say that as a child they could not understand what they were doing and that is was wrong.
    So the same would be said of the girls who sent the picture to a boy, put on a “show” on their web cam or posted their pictures on myspace, face book or photo bucket. There is a Pandora’s box to all this, the absence of another who is an adult means that there is no longer the concept of the child being duped into it or forced. And to be honest there is a bit of culture shock coming if the true extent of the numbers and the practice becomes well known.

    LOL I know a bit of information over load here….

  8. Teens who aren’t having sex are the exception.
    This causes peer pressure and self esteem problems for them.

  9. tosmarttobegop

    I gave more thought as to how things have changed, growing up such matters as nudity was thought of as a gift. It was a special thing that a girl would give to the boy she liked and not something just thrown about.
    Now the reality is that it does not mean a great deal in the sense that it is only a moment exposure and not giving a piece of the soul.

    Perhaps that is what has changed, often it seem rather silly, in a sense the female is the one who puts things in a more sensible prospective. Kind of like a bra is simply a piece of cloth that is sown and serves a function. Its underwear and any magical or mystical meaning is solely in the mind of the those whom want to see it. Likewise, it is just skin and if they are really that foolish to get that excited about seeing something that has no more a meaning than seeing the skin of the arm or the leg. That is someone else’s problem.

    It might be a form of rebellion, some girls get pregnant for that reason and in hindsight I would rather my daughter take the route of pictures then pregnancy. Girls want attention and sometimes that takes a less then good form. One of those who told me that Middle school aged girls are hornier then the boys was the child development councilor. He explains it this way: “the girls want the same actions but for a different reason.
    For them it is the intimacy not the physical action or result.”.