The Yearbook Committee

The latest “OMG! What about about the children!” over-reaction.

Authorities investigating an alleged sex crime captured in the 2011 Big Bear High School yearbook said Tuesday their work is ongoing, but that charges eventually could be filed.

The high school made headlines last week when a photograph depicting a 17-year-old male student with his hands inside the clothing of a 15-year-old female student at a school dance was published in the yearbook.

It’s not clear exactly what was photographed. Reports are that the camera captured his hand up her short dress. When it was discovered, the authorities decreed that this constituted child pornography and ordered the yearbooks recalled. Yes, a picture of a 17 y/o groping a clothed 15 y/o is now the equivalent of kiddie porn.

That itself wouldn’t be so bad. But now they’re talking about charging the boy with a sex crime. California, despite its reputation, has a ridiculous age of consent law. Age of consent in 18, which is fine. But most sensible states make an exception if the two involved are within three years in age. In Cali, that just reduces it to a misdemeanor (if it’s consenting; forcible is a felony and should be). This kid could do jail time and presumably end up being labelled a sex offender with all the suffering and life-ruination that entails.

Well, you know what he authorities have to say about that:

Crimes involving the sexual penetration of a minor fall under child abuse statutes, MacKay said, and school and law enforcement officials are required to report and investigate such incidents.

“As much as we know teenagers are and will be teenagers, by law we cannot ignore it,” MacKay said.

In other words, no discretion is allowed. If the authorities find out that two teenager are engaged in any sexual activity, they are required to ruin their lives (or at least, ruin the boy’s life).

This is insane. And if you read the comments on the article, everyone with two brain cells to rub together realizes it’s insane. A good prosecutor would say, “Well, having your hand up someone’s dress isn’t penetration. And the photos a little blurry anyway. Shucks, guess we have to drop the charges.” A better one would say, “This is an illustration of how insane our laws are. I refuse to engage in this bullshit even if it costs me my job.”

But in the insane asylum that is our legal system, charging a 17 y/o boy with a sex crime for groping his girlfriend’s thigh is considered normal.

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  1. InsipiD

    But in the insane asylum that is our legal system, charging a 17 y/o boy with a sex crime for groping his girlfriend’s thigh is considered normal.

    I hope and expect that there’ll be suitable outrage over this. I’m not generally against sex crime prosecutions, but this is as step into the insane.

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  2. richtaylor365

    I would not assume that the police provided the impetus for the investigation and pending criminal charges, the school called them in first to report it. Granted, I don’t know all the facts here, but given how hysterical the school has been acting regarding unreturned yearbooks and threats of child pornography prosecutions, maybe they are forcing the police’s hand in this matter, they (the police) can attempt to dissuade the school from going this route (kids will be kids, let’s not go all inquisition on them) but ultimately, since it happened on school grounds, the school officials get to make the call.

    D.A.’s usually consult the victim regarding any prosecutions, when they are unwilling or sympathetic with the offender (likely in this case) then the charges will be dropped. Let’s hope that happens here.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    Rich, my post was probably unclear on this. But I think that the school and the cops are obligated to pursue this under California law. They don’t have a choice, even if the victim tells them to fuck off. The only person who MIGHT be able to put the kibosh on this and not risk prosecution himself is the DA. And even then, he might be censured or whatever.

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  4. richtaylor365

    You may be right. Another thing to consider is that maybe the parents of the girl are pushing for prosecution, I don’t know. What I do know is that the District Attorney’s Office has wide latitude wrt to cases they actually file. With the typical backlog of cases and their need to provide convictions for any possible advancements, going in with a dog case and a sympathetic victim spells trouble from the get go.

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  5. InsipiD

    If there’s a chance that he’ll end up with an adult criminal record, I sure hope he got some. With the sex offender moniker attached to him, there’s not much of a chance for high tide on the waterbed.

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  6. hist_ed

    Certified school employees are required to report anything that could be construed as a crime against one of their students (particularly a sex crime). Any teacher or administrator who saw this and didn’t report it (or find out that it had been reported) could lose their teaching license. It is one of the only ways that teachers can get fired quickly. It doesn’t matter what we think of the law, if we don’t report we could be screwed.

    I’ve made a couple of those calls (“I really think this is nothing but I wanted to report to make sure”). Once I got a very anguished call from a parent wondering why the police had questioned her daughter about a note passed in my classroom. Not exactly fun.

    This goes hand in hand with the zero tolerance crap we have to deal with. I teach students about world wars, genocide and all the rest of the evil that happened over the last hundred years or so but I have to send them to the office if they have a T-shirt with a picture of a sword on it and I got yelled at for having a WW2 poster with some guns on it. Bleh.

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  7. Seattle Outcast

    since when is a pair of teenager feeling each other up a crime? In that case I should be in prison for the next thousand years or so….

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  8. InsipiD

    When I was in middle school, it was used as the ultimate bargaining tool, as in “if you XXXXX, I’ll let you have a feel.” (Usual answer, “OK!”) Now you get thrown in jail not for doing the girl’s absurd task, but for the payback? Shit.

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