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+ - Court Says Parents Can Block ‘Sexting’

Submitted by
mikesd81
mikesd81 writes "In the first federal appeals court opinion dealing with “sexting”, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Wednesday that parents could block the prosecution of their children on child pornography charges for appearing in photographs found on some classmates’ cellphones. Miller vs. Mitchell (pdf) began in 2008 when school officials in Tunkhannock, Pa., discovered seminude and nude photographs of some female students on other student's phones. George Skumanick Jr., the DA at the time, said the students and their parents could be prosecuted if they did not participate in an after-school “education program.”
The syllabus called for the girls to write a report explaining why they were there, what they had done, and why it was wrong. The course was voluntary, however if the students opted out or did not complete it they would be prosecuted. Sighting the district attorney’s actions interfered with the girls’ constitutional rights to be photographed and to be free from compelled speech — and with the parents’ rights to direct their children’s upbringing, three families refused. In March, the district court temporarily barred the district attorney from initiating any criminal charges against the girls. Wednesday’s opinion came in response to his appeal and upholds the injunction but does not resolve the case. The unanimous ruling of the judges, Thomas L. Ambro, Michael A. Chagares and Walter K. Stapleton, criticized the district attorney’s reliance on the girls’ presence in the photographs as a basis for the potential charges. “Appearing in a photograph provides no evidence as to whether that person possessed or transmitted the photo,” said the opinion, by Judge Ambro."
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Court Says Parents Can Block ‘Sexting’

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