A Manassas City teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said. A Prince William County judge allowed the 17-year-old to leave the area without the warrant being served or the pictures being taken — yet.
The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration until he’s 21, but inclusion on the state sex offender data base for, possibly, the rest of his life. David Culver of NBC Washington first reported the story and interviewed the teen’s guardian, his aunt, who was shocked at the lengths Prince William authorities were willing to go to make a sexting case in juvenile court.
What happened here is that a 15-year-old girl sent some photos to a 17-year-old boy. At this point, the nature of those photos and the relationship of the two teens is unknown. He then sent her a video of his dick. The 15 year-old’s mother saw the video and contacted the police. The police charged with him making and distributing child pornography but had to drop the charges at trial because they hadn’t certified he was a minor. They are apparently bringing new charges for a July court date and have filed a warrant to take a picture of his erect member.
I held back on posting this to see what the Manassas cops had to say for themselves. I got caught on the Kaitlin Hunt thing a couple of years back. Their claim is that the kid sent video to the 15 year-old after being repeatedly told to stop. Assuming that is true — we’ve seen law enforcement publicity flacks lie before in controversial cases — they could be charging him with harassment or something like that (sex between consenting 15- to 17-year-olds is legal in Virginia). But no, they appear to be going with the absurd route of bringing kiddie porn charges against a teenager for taking pictures of himself. If convicted, he would be in prison until at age 21 and on a sex offender registry for the rest of his life. So they want to ruin this kid’s life over a dirty video.
To add insult to injury, they now want to collect evidence by strapping this kid to a gurney, giving him a drug to make him erect and taking more pictures of his genitals (in addition to ones they’ve already taken). Keep in mind: under the legal theory they are advancing, he is the victim here. He’s not being charged with sending out pictures of other nude teens; just himself. How is this not further victimization of the supposed victim?
(Doug Mataconis, in the comments to his post, notes that there is not a fifth amendment problem, since this is regarded as evidence collection, not testimony.)
Look, I don’t want teens sending naked pictures of themselves around willy-nilly either. But the legal system is not designed for the subtleties of a parental chat. Once you call in the legal system, it deals with things the way it is designed to: with maximum firepower.
At the very least, we need to rewrite our laws to deal with this. It is insane and ridiculous to charge teens with kiddie porn for taking pictures of themselves. Teenagers have been taking naked pictures of themselves since the camera was invented. Hell, somewhere out there is probably a cave painting some prehistoric teenager made of his dick in an effort to impress a cute cavegirl.
If this kid was sending unsolicited dick picks, there are harassment laws and indecent exposure laws to deal with it. But to bring these kind of charges? And to demand this kind of medical procedure? “Teaching someone a lesson” by ruining his life is not a sane approach to law.