pictures

Illustrating the absurd nature of the state, a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota has been charged with felony child pornography charges after she took pictures of herself and sent them to her boyfriend.

The teen was “sexting” someone she knew, who then took a screenshot of the image, and passed it around among friends. After someone brought the image to the police, the girl was charged. Now the American Civil Liberties Union is calling for the court to drop the charges against the minor.

ACLU’s legal director, Teresa Nelson, filed a brief with the court, asking the court to dismiss the charges on the basis that the child cannot be charged as a criminal since it was she who is the victim of the actions of another. She wrote the girl, “cannot criminally use or victimize herself,” meaning she was not coerced, threatened or intimidated into child pornography. She sent the image of her own volition to another person.

“To suggest that a juvenile who sends a sexually explicit selfie is a victim of her own act of child pornography is illogical,” Nelson said. “Child pornography laws are supposed to protect minors from predators, and Jane Doe is not a predator.”

In Nelson’s mind, the problem is with Minnesota law, not the actions of the child. Minnesota’s legal system does not distinguish child pornography from simple sexting, and treats sexting among minors as child porn.

The purpose of the law is to protect people who are victimized, to protect children who are victimized…We don’t have a victim in this case. She was not coerced. She was not creating child pornography of someone else.

The thought that a 14-year-old would be labeled as a child pornographer and have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life is an enigma to some who see the broader implications of a conviction. “I think the person who sent the picture to everyone else should be charged with child pornography,” said Kathy, a member of the community.

However, even charging the other student—who is presumably also a minor—with disseminating the image is a delicate balancing act. Sending one image is also not the same as the production of child pornography meant to capitalize on the sale of illicit material. How can law enforcement protect children, and at the same time bring child pornographers to justice? The very serious question has few right answers according to those who attempt to answer it.

For starters, the government should adhere to its own time-honored traditions of not charging minors as adults. Should the 14-year-old be convicted of child pornography, and placed in adult prison, she would be surrounded by hardened criminals who would most likely take advantage of her innocence. If the child had not been harmed enough by having her naked image spread around town, going to prison at such a young age will undoubtedly be a more horrific, traumatizing experience.

The family’s upset…This could have a devastating effect on her life.

Nelson’s contention the girl’s actions constituted a “victimless crime” may resonate with the court, or it may have no effect on the outcome of the trial and charges. However, at any rate, the story of one teen’s fight for freedom from prison and freedom from being branded and labeled a child pornographer, also serves another purpose.

“I think this is a teachable moment for educators, for parents, to talk to her about the consequences,” Nelson said. “It’s a cautionary tale, and probably a call to action for the legislature to update our law to make it clear that, in this situation, kids shouldn’t be charged with felonies for creating material of themselves that they share.”

 

As TFTP has reported, the courts have a sordid history of charging children for adult crimes and prosecuting them in adult court. In Arizona, for example, teenagers caught with marijuana paraphernalia and weed residue can be and are routinely charged as adults with felony possession of marijuana, no matter if the only plant material is enough to fit underneath one’s fingernail.

When it comes to smartphones, there is really no limit to the number of federal crimes with which people can be charged. The images are can never be deleted, one’s search history never goes away, and at any moment, police can search someone’s phone—often without a warrant—to be able to charge anyone, anytime, with nearly any prosecutable offense.

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Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine

9 COMMENTS

  1. they are trying to push this bullshit so people will speak out and say enough hoping the real political and elite pervs who are committing real crimes fall thru the cracks and get forgotten

  2. Bury the rape kits charge this kid with child porn, justice in Amerika comrades. You don’t deserve to be free anymore for tolerating this shit, you deserve the Fascist Police State that you are creating.😈

    • We have never truly been *free*. Is it even possible? As long as there have been cops we have lived in a police state. Enough people have been *comfortable* enough and entertained enough that they didn’t see it. But not all of us. I guess I get to watch it get worse and worse. People who just recently are beginning to see are late to the party. We are many dollars short and over a half a century late to be able to really do something about it likely. But I say let’s try. I’m game.

      • The “police state” in the U.S. did not begin until the early 1900s. Before that we were quite free. Cops did exist for a little bit before then but really didn’t become common until after the Civil War. Then they were more of a community status symbol. A police state exists when the executive branch of government acquires sovereign authority. Legally the people of the United States are supposed to have that authority and not the state, but our law schools and political science courses have been teaching that that the sovereignty of the people is only “collective” and not individually based which is NOT what our first Supreme Court directly found. The law is supposed to exist where the wills of any citizen does not conflict with the will of any other citizen in the public domain in the U.S. Per that SCOTUS each citizen partakes equally in that sovereignty but the “ministers of government” (officers, employees, or contractors) do not partake except as private citizens; that the people are more sovereign than the state or its governments. Also the people, the state, and the state’s governments are not synonymous terms. These findings have never been reversed or subject to amendments; just never applied or used as argument in court. I’m currently working on this matter and have a basis for standing as a plaintiff in a civil rights case so I have a chance to present a very complex legal argument. For something like this you have to have a deep background in legal theory and the history of law in the U.S. NO, this is NOTHING to do with the idiot “sovereign citizen” movement. Some morons corrupted a perfectly good legal term and have used it frivolously.

  3. We have officers of the court declaring that it is legal for police to distribute child pornography for money, and even create it, insisting that such actions are somehow harmless. And the perpetrators don’t even get a slap on the wrist level punishment.

    At the same time, we have officers of the court and legislators declaring that child pornography is so harmful that there can never be any excuse for it, that we must protect our children from predators with draconi, strict liability laws.

    And somehow those officers of the court see nothing wrong with ‘protecting’ a child right into adult prison, with a lifelong sex offender registration?

    The rule of law seems to be dead.

    • It’s not supposed to be “rule of law” but “rule by the people”. The problem IS that we are “rule of law” and not very consistently.

  4. The horror of such cases is not only the outrageous harm done the innocent teenage girl, but also having to come to terms with the fact that so many of our fellow citizens have values and mores entirely different from our own, and these are cruel, sadistic, punitive and controlling. Worse still, they come from a religious or quasi-religious perspective radically different from our own and the great gulf between us cannot be bridged by rational debate or argument. In this case the Minnesota legislature–many of whom are lawyers–failed to make a distinction between an adult photographing a teen naked or having sex and that teen doing so for his or her own purposes. This failure was deliberate in order to impose draconian punishment on adventurous adolescent sexuality, a goal that could not have been the explicit purpose of the legislation. We may conclude that it was deliberate because otherwise there would be widespread community outrage and the legislature would be screaming that this was not the intent of the law. But it was. And instead of outrage we have a measured debate about whether the law is being properly applied in her case. (The fact that her boyfriend passed them around to his friends to brag does not make him a child pornographer, but more likely simply an insensitive lout.)

    In fact I suggest that we are lucky not to see something as ridiculously mean as criminal charges against the minor on the grounds that because she masturbates, she is also guilty of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor; and her right hand is being charged with child molestation as well as obstruction of justice for withdrawing when she was discovered engaging in the aforementioned lewd and lascivious conduct. Are there any witches to be burned?

  5. The prosecutor should be stripped naked and publicly flogged, making sure there are many photos and videos to ensure everlasting shame.

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