Earlier this year in a 15-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend were doing what dating teenagers do. These days that means texting instead of talking on the phone. Teenagers are also apt to explore their sexuality. These days that often means sexting via the phones they use to not talk. The Manassas, Virginia teenagers were doing just that earlier this year, which started with the girl sending nude photos of herself to her boyfriend, which prompted him to send a video which included his erect penis.
In the ensuing months, the boy would face two felony charges and a warrant to force him to have an erection.
After a complaint by the girl’s parents, the boy was arrested and charged with possession and manufacturing of child pornography. Sexting among minors is illegal in 20 states, including Virginia. Even though the activity is common among teens and done with seemingly few negative effects, states don’t differentiate by age. So whether the offender is 40 or 14, the same charges apply with penalties of up to forty years.
In this case, the possession charges stem from the photos that his girlfriend sent him, and the manufacturing charge is for his self-made video of him…or rather his penis. He could face up to twenty years in prison. The girl has not been charged.
After his arrest, the police searched his home and took photos of his genitals against his wishes. However, the photos the police took didn’t match what was in the video.
On July 1, the prosecutor told the boy that he had to plead guilty or they would seek a warrant to take photos of his erect penis. When his attorney inquired as to how that would be done, she replied that they would “take him down to the hospital, give him a shot and then take the pictures that we need.” The teen refused to plead guilty.
The prosecutor asked for a continuance and the police sought the warrant to essentially create their own child pornography. The police defended their decision, claiming that the sexting by the boy was unwanted after he was repeatedly asked to stop. Nevertheless, last week the police backed off their plan to force the erection and the taking of photographs.
At a hearing on July 15, the prosecutor said they would continue to pursue the felony charges, but they would not be using any of the previous photos of the boy’s genitals to prove their case. They are due back in court in August.
What do you think? Is it right to charge this boy with child pornography?