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Teens Prosecuted For Racy Photos 740

Posted by kdawson
from the protecting-from-whom? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a story on CNet about two teens who were prosecuted under anti-child-porn laws in Florida for having made and emailed racy photos of each other. Both were under 18 years old, so the resulting pictures are clearly illegal; but the teens' intent was not to share the pictures with anyone else. An appeals court majority opinion found that emailing the photos from one of the kids to the other was a careless act that should, it seems, bring down the full weight of the law. A minority opinion argued that the laws were intended to protect children from exploitative adults, not from other children.
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Teens Prosecuted For Racy Photos

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  • Strupod.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IdleTime (561841) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:10PM (#17964870) Journal
    Utterly stupid. 18 year is way too high. Where I come from it's 15. When I was that age in the early 70's we fucked like rabbits.

    IMNSHO, this is not an issue for the legal system at all.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:39PM (#17965196)
      Agreed, not only should this COUPLE be left alone by the law, but I should have a good look at the pics to make sure they weren't doing anything illegal...
    • Re:Strupod.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:54PM (#17965340) Homepage Journal
      There is a real difference between the damage caused to a person when pictures of them in private situations, expecially sexual, are published. It's worse for kids.

      And there is a difference between the damage done by showing the pictures, if any, and the damage done by being photographed, if any, and the damage done, if any, by being in the situation itself.

      America's hypocritical (is there any other kind?) puritanism prevents its laws from recognizing these distinctions. With children increasingly able to photograph and publish, like anyone else, we will have increasing damage done by the laws that don't reflect what's right and how wrong.
      • Re:Strupod.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @06:06PM (#17966064)
        The damage done to them by the law (branded as sex offenders for life, having to register their whereabouts on a public database, unable to freely choose where they live, work, and be free of harassment, barred from ever adopting or probably even raising their own children if they ever plan to have any) is far more devastating to their lives than if the pictures ever got out.

        Don't think that just because they're minors now that their records will remain sealed. I wouldn't be surprised if there were already sex-crime exceptions to that.

        IANAL.
    • Re:Strupod.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rbochan (827946) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:05PM (#17965442) Homepage
      But you see, here in The Land Of The Free (TM)*, the majority of the population see boobies and even sucks on nipples frequently for the first few months of their lives. Then they aren't allowed to see them again for 18 years.

      *Void where prohibited by law.

  • by dsanfte (443781) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:11PM (#17964882) Journal
    So now even children are victims of ill-thought out, inane "OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!~1~!" type laws?

    My head asplode.
    • by TheMeuge (645043) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:29PM (#17965084)
      This is clearly a case of not just prosecutorial misconduct, but malicious prosecution of the worst kind. The majority brief actually included a part where they justified continuing this charade because these pictures MIGHT harm this couple in the future. The gall of the two judges who wrote this opinion is incomprehensible, and their hypocrisy borders on sadism. I mean, it seems as if they view the mere possibility of this picture surfacing as being more damaging to these kids than being labeled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives?

      I don't know what these kids did to piss the prosecution and the court off, but there is clearly malicious intent here.
      • by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:16PM (#17965538) Journal
        "I don't know what these kids did to piss the prosecution and the court off, but there is clearly malicious intent here."

        So in the vein of "Who Guards the Guards?" What recourse do we as the public have against these people who twist the intention of the law into a worse crime? I would agree that this prosecution, and labeling as sex offenders has done considerable damage to these minors. Can you criminally prosecute a judge for malicious abuse of power? And as a side note: Will this be taken off of their records when they turn 18? After all they are minors.
      • > "I mean, it seems as if they view the mere possibility of this picture surfacing as being more damaging to these kids than being labeled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives?"

        I don't remember anything in the article referring to registered sex-offender status. Speculation or source?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jandrese (485)
          I don't know about their laws, but around here convictions for any child pornography charges of any kind will get you put on those lists. There is no judicial discretion in the matter. Since they are minors it might be possible to have their names erased at 18 like with other crimes, but since I've never heard of minors getting prosecuted for child pornography (they're usually the victim!) I'm not entirely sure. As usual, the internet is not your best source for legal advice. Take everything with a grai
        • by ubernostrum (219442) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @06:46PM (#17966512) Homepage

          I don't remember anything in the article referring to registered sex-offender status. Speculation or source?

          Speculation, but speculation that's exceedingly likely to be correct. Look up the case of Glenarlow Wilson, a child in neighboring Georgia who will be registered as a child molester for the rest of his life, after serving a mandatory 10-year prison sentence -- because, at the age of 17, he had consensual oral sex with a 16-year-old girl. Georgia law at the time drew no distinction whatsoever about the age of the "molester"; any oral sex involving a minor, even if the partner was also a minor, was felony child molestation and left no room for judicial discretion in sentencing.

          • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @07:04PM (#17966690) Journal

            Laws that don't allow for circumstantial sentencing should be abolished outright. There is never a reason to pass a law that does not take circumstances into account. It is not a question of whether the law will be abused, but a question of when, how, and how frequently....

            On the other hand, I feel that with the exception of a handful of very basic laws (rape, murder, theft), all laws should be required to have a sunset provision that makes them expire unless renewed. That would force heinous laws like this one to at least get rehashed every ten years or so....

      • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:52PM (#17965908) Homepage Journal

        I don't think it has to be malicious at all. For one thing, the judges had to avoid setting an ugly precedent.

        Let's say the photos were made legal, returned to the youths, and no conviction performed. Now there are legal "child porn" photos in their position.

        Snap forward a few years until they're 21, and one of them is desperate for money. And sells their legal photos of their own underage antics. Are those still legal child porn as set by the precedence?

        I think the judges just avoided being blunt about the concern.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by msobkow (48369)

          Sub-conscious slip of the fingers: that should have been "possession", not "position."

          Taken further, a precedence could have sparked an entire industry of teens archiving photos they intend to sell as soon as they reach a legal age to do so. Not a battle anyone would want to take up, methinks.

        • by Wordsmith (183749) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @06:25PM (#17966268) Homepage
          Although it's a sickening scenario, that actually probably should be legal.

          Child porn isn't illegal because it's sick to get your rocks off looking at a child. In fact, when we're not talking about pre-pubescents, it's biologically natural to be turned on by someone attractive - even if responsible adults understand why teens probably aren't really emotionally ready for sexual encounters, and don't have the wherewithall to consent to such encounters with adults who've got far more life experience.

          Child porn is illegal because creating it involves subjecting a minor, who by definition can't consent to sexual activity, to sexual activity. The porn is a product of that process. Making it illegal to buy, sell and possession child porn is akin to making it illegal to do the same with stolen goods, or goods created in illegal sweatshops - it's a way of eating away at the root wrongful activity.

          But when a person makes himself or herself the "victim," that logic breaks down somewhat. Is there really a victim at all? Especially if the choice to sell the pictures comes when the person is an adult, and theoretically responsible for his or her own actions? I can't imagine we'd want to create a precedent where cynical 16- or 17-year-olds are stashing away pictures of themselves to turn a quick buck when they turn 18, but if that's going to be illegal, we really need a different rationale.

  • So then... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:11PM (#17964884)
    Are they going to start prosecuting 17 year olds who have sex with mutual statutory rape?
    • Re:So then... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:16PM (#17964936)
      Just the boys. The charges against the girls magically get dropped.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:25PM (#17965032)
      And those caught masturbating will be charged with sexual abuse of a minor.
      • by Chmcginn (201645) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:31PM (#17965112) Journal
        Well, hopefully they won't make the sentences consecutive. Otherwise I'd have been put away till about the time the sun starts to expand into a red giant...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BakaHoushi (786009)
        *Sigh*

        You just don't GET it. Sex is UNNATURAL, EVIL, and masturbation is a GATEWAY to ORAL SEX and even INTERCOURSE!

        If God had intended for us to have sex, and to masturbate, He would have given us external sexual organs which are proven to help people feel better and healthier when stimulated on a semi-regular basis. He would have given us the desire to do this ourselves, and we'd have plenty of examples in nature to suggest that around the age of puberty, it is desirable and perfectly normal. But you don'
    • Re:So then... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mazarin5 (309432) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:31PM (#17965104) Journal
      It happens all the time; often times charges are pressed against just the boy by the girl's spiteful parents. The boy's parents had no recourse because counter-charges were invalid. At some point when I when in high school, Ohio changed the law so that it was impossible to press charges against just one or another. Both kids would be prosecuted for "raping" each other if they were younger than 16. At first I thought the move was absolutely insane, until I realized that it was the only fix for the problem that a politician in Ohio could get away with; it would take a very special kind of jackass to send his own daughter to jail because he didn't like her boyfriend. Fortunately, there's also an exception for age difference, so a 18 year old fucking his 17 year old girlfriend can't get ambushed. It's a more rational setup than I gave it credit for when it affected me.
      • Re:So then... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chmcginn (201645) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:06PM (#17965454) Journal
        So, here's a question... do convictions of sex-related crimes by minors give them sex offender status once they become adults?

        Cause if this 17 year old & 16 year old have to register as sex offenders for the next five years, I would imagine that worse than almost any potential psychological trauma from having your ex-(boy/girl)friend show their friends some nude pictures of you...

        • Re:So then... (Score:5, Informative)

          by squarefish (561836) * on Saturday February 10, 2007 @06:48PM (#17966528)
          there's a 17 yo kid in GA that recently got a mandatory 10 year sentence for receiving a blowjob from a 15 yo girl.
          if he'd fucked her, it would only be a 1 year. he was having a party with friends and a girl he'd never seen before walked into their hotel room and started blowing him- he didn't ask for an id, but he did break the state's anti-sodomy law regarding teens and he will be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of his life. too many links to provide- just google Genarlow Wilson
  • Not children (Score:4, Insightful)

    by therpham (953844) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:14PM (#17964914)
    1) 16- and 17-year-olds are by no means "children." 2) These laws were made to protect minors from older perverts, not from themselves. 3) This is stupid.
    • Re:Not children (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:24PM (#17965024)
      1) 16- and 17-year-olds are by no means "children."

      Some aren't. Most, maybe. But by no means all. And that is the problem. The law has to put a line somewhere. Not all kids develop at the same rate. So some are mature enough, and some aren't, at the arbitrary dividing line.

      2) These laws were made to protect minors from older perverts, not from themselves.

      Very true. But the letter of the law says "Anyone convicted of sending pictures of naked children..." Key word 'anyone'.

      3) This is stupid.

      Get the laws changed. (So that a very mature 17 year old can coerce his very immature 16 year old friend to pose nude) Problems, problems.
      • Re:Not children (Score:5, Insightful)

        by honkycat (249849) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:32PM (#17965122) Homepage Journal
        Literal readings of the laws (e.g., your "anyone" keyword) are utterly impractical. The intention of laws is (supposed to be) upholding justice, not simply ensuring that everyone jumps through the right hoop at the right time. You don't have to have an arbitrary dividing line. There are sentient beings involved in the legal process and it's quite possible to determine whether a nominal crime (i.e., a broken law) is one that should be prosecuted.

        Here, this is clearly a case that should not be prosecuted. How is justice served by throwing the book at two minors who consensually broke a law designed to protect them from exploitation by adults? If, as in your last example, one had demonstrably coerced the other, then it would be sensible to prosecute the case. Note that it would ONLY make sense to prosecute one of them -- there's NO way it's sensible to prosecute them both just because the letter of the law allows it.
    • Re:Not children (Score:5, Insightful)

      by delirium of disorder (701392) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:33PM (#17965136) Homepage Journal
      1) 16- and 17-year-olds are by no means "children." 2) These laws were made to protect minors from older perverts, not from themselves.

      I think that all human beings should have human rights, regardless of their age. One of these rights is the right to free speech and freedom of association. Anyone should be able to share any information and anyone should be able to have any consensual contact with another.

      People think that it's uncommon to prosecute minors for sexually abusing themselves under statutory rape or child porn laws. This actually happens all the time. Child porn laws are not designed to protect minors at all. Most images and videos of minors having sex are made by teens in consensual relationships. Anyone who has been in high school in the age of digital cameras knows this. These laws are made by extreme religious fundamentalists who think that any sex outside of marriage is wrong. Since adults can vote, they have largely been unsuccessful in restricting adult sex (at least in the past few decades), however (even mature) minors have no say in government, so they can freely be subjected to to one of the sickest, most twisted sexual fetishes: abstinence.
  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EGSonikku (519478) <petersen.mobile@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:15PM (#17964922)
    Now if I try to commit suicide will I be charged with Attempted Murder?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheCreeep (794716)
      Along that line of thought, If a 17 year old masturbates, is it a form of child molestation?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:20PM (#17964980)
    Prosecuting teenagers for taking pictures of themselves naked and sharing strikes many as absolutely stupid. This is a victimless crime. Now, prosecuting others for sharing someone elses picture I can understand.

    So why are these laws being applied when the photographer is the subject?

    It's quite simple. If the uptight authorities don't do this, why, then you'd have teenagers all over the place taking naked pictures of themselves and passing them along. The whole world would be flooded with naked pics of teens!

    Can you possible imagine what such a world would be like? Why, why, ahhh, oh nevermind.

    Anyway, the religious authorities don't like this. That's what it boils down to.

    Oh my. Now we're starting to sound like Iran.
  • by Catmeat (20653) <mtm AT sys DOT uea DOT ac DOT uk> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:23PM (#17965002)
    According to the Wikipedia article on age of consent in North America - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_No rth_America [wikipedia.org] two 17 year-olds in Florida can legally have sex. It's just they can't take and send dirty pictures to each other.
  • by celardore (844933) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:25PM (#17965026)
    This is the next step forwards. It is obviously only teenagers and pedophiles using this site. Best stop it at source. Shut down Myspace, faceparty, and anything else that teens can be involved with on the net. If we stop children using these sites, then we stop pedophiles using them too. Problem solved, right?

    AC because this post will likely be moderated troll, when in fact I intended it to be insightful. id: 844933
  • by Kaboom13 (235759) <kaboom108&bellsouth,net> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:26PM (#17965050)
    I can understand how these charges could be upheld, after all, a judges job is to uphold the law as it is written, not as they would like it to be. The person who should be ashamed of himself is the district attorney who is pressing charges on what obviously is an unintended consequence of a poorly written law. Is he so desperate for work, he has nothing better to do then go after two teens who are only guilty of being young and stupid? His job is to serve the public and see that justice is done, not waste their time and money on witch hunts. I wonder how many criminal cases got ignored or plea bargained so 2 dumb kids who took pictures of themselves could learn their lesson.

    I can only assume he wants to pad the numbers, so he can claim he busted another "kiddie-porn ring" and kept our children safe. It really scares me that in the article, the judges use a lot of reasoning along the line of the pictures "may have" been shown to others later, or the computers "may have" been hacked laster, or something, somehow "may have" gone wrong. When did abstract possibilities becomes illegal? I believe people should be held accountable for the consequences of their actions, but I don't see how they can be held accountable for what happens only in the wild speculation of some judge.
    • by kharchenko (303729) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:40PM (#17965206)
      I usually sympathetic to the judges that are bound by the letter of the law, but quotes from the judges opinion in this case left me fuming:

      "Wolf speculated that Amber and Jeremy could have ended up selling the photos to child pornographers ("one motive for revealing the photos is profit") or showing the images to their friends. He claimed that Amber had neither the "foresight or maturity" to make a reasonable estimation of the risks on her own."

      They could've ended up selling photos ? Well for that matter this judge could've ended up buying them! Since when have we started punishing people for things they could potentially do (but clearly have not attempted to)?

      Or how about lacking "maturity" - the whole case is built on the fact that they are minors ... how hypocritical it is to punish them for lack of maturity!
  • Tough Call (Score:3, Funny)

    by mathmathrevolution (813581) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:28PM (#17965070)
    There's really no way to speculate about whether or not a crime occured without actually seeing the allegedly obscene images. For the sake of clarity can somebody post these so-called "racy pix" or email them to me (mfoley@hotmail). thx
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:29PM (#17965090)

    Further, if these pictures are ultimately released, future damage may be done to these minors' careers or personal lives.


    Yes, let's protect potential future damage to their lives or careers by ending them early! What the fuck???? I can't believe that this was an actual reasoning.

    This is unbelievable on so many levels. As the monitory opinion states, it's ok to have sex, as long as you don't document it. Protection from hypothetical damage allows for doing actual damage. Consensual, legimitate and accepted practices can lead to association with scum of the earth practices.

    The more I see, the less I think I'll raise kids in the US.
  • Insane... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flajann (658201) <.flajann. .at. .linuxbloke.com.> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:32PM (#17965126) Homepage Journal
    This is yet another example of how insane the laws are. In reading the article, the opinions read like "could have sold them" or "could have caused trauma/harm to the 'minors'".

    Of course, prosecuting the minors in this way for what was an innocent act on their parts, throwing them in jail for years, sticking them on sex offenders lists, and marring them for live will cause no harm to them at all.

    This is just beyond crazy. A sheer sign that our country has gone way down hill. And you know what? These prosecutors will probably get a pat on the back, promotions, and the like. It's nothing to them to destroy the lives of these two teenagers just to forward their own careers.

  • Time to worry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:33PM (#17965132) Homepage
    What happens when some smart ones start emailing photos to their teachers along with a message saying "here are the photos you demanded not to tank my grades" and BCCing the FBI?

    That's the kind of scary crap you get when you don't consider intent when deciding on guilt.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:36PM (#17965164) Homepage Journal
    The laws are to protect children from exploitation, whether by adults, other children, other children acting for adults, or whoever. It's not a "gotcha" for adults, it's protection of children.

    However, parents are to protect children. Disciplining children by the law is a total failure of the parents. While that happens, it must always be the last resort. And always include legal charges against the parents.
    • So in order to protect these two kids you'd throw them both in jail? They took pictures of themselves, not other kids. They only distributed the pictures to each other, not to the world. Can you please explain to me how their acts constitutes "exploitation"? I'm missing something here.

  • by alan_dershowitz (586542) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:40PM (#17965198)
    Is "this news for nerds" because they used email? Or because of racy nude teen photos? The density of posts designed to whip up righteous nerd frenzy is getting old.

    Yes yes, the law can affect nerds too. I can also get that news anywhere.
  • by bouis (198138) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:53PM (#17965324)
    A guy over the age of majority sleeps with a girl under the statutory age. He's charged with statutory rape-- after she snuck into his house and quite literally slipped into his bed naked. She got charged and convicted of... conspiracy to commit statutory rape and as an accessory to her own rape. The appeals court in that case overturned the conviction and held that as a matter of law she couldn't be charged, because, you guessed it, the laws were intended to protect her.

    However, I somehow doubt that that's going to be the holding in this case. If being under 18 gave you license to take and distribute nude photographs of yourself, you can only imagine the consequences. Actually, I think they did an episode of Law & Order about this.
  • What if... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flajann (658201) <.flajann. .at. .linuxbloke.com.> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @04:57PM (#17965362) Homepage Journal
    What if I took a picture of myself when I was 16 and decided to distribute the picture once I became an adult? One cannot argue that it's to "protect me", since I am no longer a "child". The child is no more. Exploiting myself? I'm no longer a child. It's my body; am I not allowed to do with it whatever I want?

    This is just hypothetical, of course, but it does illustrates many issues here. The teen case is similar to this scenario; and perhaps we'll need an actual case to make the laws sane again. Of course, anyone who does this will risk everything.

    But then again, this old song of "protecting the children" is a wash, anyway, made worthless by those who have the power to judge and prosecute, but do not exercise sound judgement.

    And the really sad fact? There are real children who are really being exploited, and these silly laws do nothing to help them. It's all a joke-- a wash, where the guilty goes free and the innocent are punished to make it appear as though the system "works".

    Gotta love the USA.

  • by volpe (58112) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:01PM (#17965416)
    They'd have been charged with child molestation.
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:13PM (#17965508)
    ....and here in Canada we go to the opposite extreme. Here an 80 year old man can legaly have sex with a 14 year old girl (or an 80 year old woman with a 14 year old boy I suppose), and can even document it if the images are intended for personal use and are not shared with others. Now, which one of these systems is better?

    Discuss.
  • by matthewcraig (68187) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @05:18PM (#17965564)
    The real question is whether they will be prosecuted as adults. Only then would the trifecta of contradiction be complete.
  • by CTho9305 (264265) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @06:21PM (#17966226) Homepage
    The manufacturer of the camera should be sued for not including warning labels telling teenagers not to photograph themselves!
  • by thehossman (198379) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @06:33PM (#17966376)
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:27PM (#17967326) Journal
    If you're too young to consent to having sex then you're too young to be prosecuted under laws relating to children and sex. Surely someone can't be so young that they don't understand the issues and yet old enough to be prosecuted by the law?
  • by nessus42 (230320) <doug@@@alum...mit...edu> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:14AM (#17968920) Homepage Journal
    I think an example needs to be made of these kids -- they should be tried as adults!

    I'm worried, however, that then the Florida legal system might disappear in a puff of logic....

    |>oug

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