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Author Topic: Judge Temporarily Bars Prosecutor from Charging Teens for Child Porn Pics  (Read 1085 times)

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Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Quote
Judge Temporarily Bars Prosecutor from Charging Teens for Child Porn Pics

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent a district attorney from charging three teenage girls with the production of child pornography for allowing someone to take photos of them in states of undress.

In his ruling (.pdf) the judge seemed to agree with the plaintiffs that the images in question do not qualify as child pornography.

At issue in the case are photos seized from student cellphones last year by officials of the Tunkhannock School District in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. The practice of taking nude or semi-nude self-portraits and distributing them via a cellphone or the internet has come to be called "sexting" and has resulted in teens being arrested in a number of states under child porn production, distribution and possession charges.

The Tunkhannock case involves two photos depicting the three girls. One photo of Marissa Miller and Grace Kelly shows them two years ago at age 13 lying side by side while one talks on the phone and the other makes a peace sign with her fingers, according to the ACLU complaint. The two are photographed from the waist up and are wearing white opaque bras. A second photo shows a girl referred to in the court document as "Jane Doe" photographed outside a shower with a towel wrapped around her waist. Her breasts are bared.

Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick, Jr., had threatened to charge the girls with being accomplices to the production of child pornography unless they agreed to six-month probation, drug-testing and participation in a five-week educational program to discuss why what they did was wrong.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania sued the district attorney on behalf of the teens and their parents on grounds that the DA was violating their civil rights. The plaintiffs said the images didn’t qualify as child pornography under Pennsylvania’s laws and therefore the prosecutor was prohibiting their free expression to take photos of themselves. They also claimed the attempt to force the parents to put the girls in an educational program violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights.

U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley granted the temporary restraining order on grounds that the plaintiffs stand a reasonable chance of winning their suit against the prosecutor. The judge didn’t comment on the merits of their claims against the prosecutor other than to say that the "plaintiffs make a reasonable argument that the images presented to the court do not appear to qualify in any way as depictions of prohibited sexual acts."

"We are grateful the judge recognized that prosecuting our clients for non-sexually explicit photographs raises serious constitutional questions," said Witold Walczack, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, in a statement. "This country needs to have a discussion about whether prosecuting minors as child pornographers for merely being impulsive and naive is the appropriate way to address the serious consequences that can result from sexting.”

Walczack told Threat Level that during the hearing the judge had looked at the two photos in question and asked the lawyers representing the defendant, "I just want to be clear that these are the two photos that are illegal?"

"He had sort of this incredulous tone in his voice," Walczack said. "I think there is an important message for prosecutors that they need to be careful about threatening child porn charges when you don’t really have child porn."

Skumanick was not available for comment. The district attorney is up for re-election in May.

A hearing to address the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction will be held June 2.

Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/03/judge-bars-da-f/#ixzz0iZ5fXOTo

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/03/judge-bars-da-f/

Seems to me that the DA here was looking to pad his cases won column and didn't expect the poor girls to do more than roll over and take any deal he felt like offering.

Honestly though, this is more of 'parents need to handle' than wasting tax payers money right?

Offline Merlyn

I feel like this is more of a media case than anything else.  (Which may be due to the ACLU.)  But none the less whatever the outcome is it will become a rather important precedent. 

Yes, this possibly should have been a 'kids will be kids' situation, but we also don't have all of the background info on this.  For all we know they could have just gone after the girls for this because they couldn't make a drug case against them (I say that because of the drug testing in the plea offer.) or anything else for that matter.  Either way, it's well beyond the point of letting the parents handle it since the media is now involved, and a precedent will need to be set saying either yes this is illegal and 'wrong', or that this is not in fact illegal and is a waste of time for the courts to deal with.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Thing is I'm seeing more and more cases where the 'sex crimes' tie in is less and less pertinent or ever there.  There is one guy who was dealing drugs and got put on the sex crimes list in Georgia for using as 17 year old as  a hostage or such in the stand off with the police.


Offline RubySlippers

Bare breasts of a girl underage = CHILD PORN.

Unless you can show artistic merit go for the charges and that judge should not be involved in thisit involves the internal laws of a sovereign state. At least until a later appeal if convicted goes into that level of legal consideration.

Offline rick957

Please forgive if this post comes across as spam -- I just wanted to point out something funny.

The title of this thread made me think at first that the prosecutor must now give away his child porn pics for free, instead of charging for them.

 ;D


Offline OldSchoolGamer

I've read about some of these cases, and I think it's a classic case of prosecution run amok.

No, we don't want to encourage young girls to take nude pictures of themselves and text them to people.  That's wrong.  But ruining their lives with high-powered charges and sex-offender listing and jail time is another wrong.  As the old saying goes, two wrongs don't make a right.

Offline Merlyn

Well, the problem is that it puts more 'kiddie porn' out there.  If it ends up on line it's just more out there for pedophiles.  Now the problem comes in that it's easier to catch these kids than it is to catch the actual pedophiles and child pornography rings.  So, the arrest and charge the kids to try and keep it from being out there.  The only problem with their idea is it didn't work to dissuade anyone from doing it, so more and more get arrested and charged on it.

IMHO things like this are going to happen all the time until consent laws change.  American society views that sex under the age of 18 (which some states do allow consent down to 16) is wrong, bad, and immoral.  But the reality is that puberty does not decide to wait for society, and without an outlet (or even actual education or talks for that matter) sex in all forms is going to happen.  Teenagers don't usually care what they are told they can or cannot do anymore, so why would it be different when it came to taking nude pictures.

*Note I am not encouraging or supporting pedophilia, but I do agree with laws which say consent is at x and you can have an age difference of x years before it's statutory.*
« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 09:28:53 AM by Merlyn »

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Thing is there is a different from actual intent and what kids are doing.

Is it alright to complete RUIN a persons life for something they did stupidly as a child (or as the result of another kid). Do we really need to put teenagers making out in a car on the  offenders list? (I know of a couple cases that the DA did just that..put both kids on the Sex Offenders list for statutory rape. Looking for the articles btw).

We have had folks go to jail for LONG periods of time for oral sex. We got kids doing stuff that some of us did AS kids and getting marked for life. A little COMMON sense on the behalf of the DAs and Judges would go a long way in making for less victims.

We got folks who don't even do anything REMOTELY related to a sex crime put on the offender's list.

It isn't a catch all category. It needs to be used for what it was intended. Not to score 'easy wins' for DAs or such. 

Offline masternater


IMHO things like this are going to happen all the time until consent laws change.  American society views that sex under the age of 18 (which some states do allow consent down to 16) is wrong, bad, and immoral.  But the reality is that puberty does not decide to wait for society, and without an outlet (or even actual education or talks for that matter) sex in all forms is going to happen.  Teenagers don't usually care what they are told they can or cannot do anymore, so why would it be different when it came to taking nude pictures.


   I gotta agree that all this is pretty much normal adolescence sexual curiosity and experimentation that more then half of us would have engaged in if the technology existed 10 years ago,... some people on these forms probably did :P.  Think about some wacky, naked adventure you had during your high school years.  Now if everyone there had a camera in their pockets, like most kids do now with cell phones,... wouldn't those cameras have got involved some times?

  Is it the most healthy way for teens to explore their sexuality? Probably not,.. but its not the worst either.  And does it really ruin their lives forever?  ... well would you care now if people you knew in high school saw you naked? 

  Pretty much a case where the law lags behind technology, and society too I think.


Online Doomsday

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/18/teen_pic_court_ruling/

Quote
The case stems from "inappropriate images of minors" found by officials at Pennsylvania's Tunkhannock School District, that included, among other things, a girl posing in her bathing suit. In late 2008, Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick told an assembly of about 20 students and their parents he would bring felony child pornography charges against them unless they completed a six- to nine-month program.

For female offenders, that meant attending classes designed to help the participants "gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today's society," and require them to write a report on what the students did and "why it was wrong"

What. The. Fuck?

Offline Secretwriter

I have mixed opinions on this topic. The parents need a wakeup call on providing their children with freely accessible forms of digital photography.  When I was that age, you had to take your film to the photographer. That meant that someone had to develop these pictures and would be looking at them. The potential for my mother being kind and offering to pick up my photos - and looking at them - was one that was large.  She always looked at my pictures and how in the hell would I explain ones like that and then…how would I get them to a computer.  Those things were what kept me personally from doing things like that - the fear of the repercussions.

Now there are no repercussions, it's a snap, a matter of a few buttons, a quick erase, and parents will never know.

While I don't agree that the kids should get much more than parental intervention; getting those privileged devices taken away, and a stern punishment to teach them right from wrong, and that everything has a time and place - which means 18 for the boobies and not before… It does cause a big issue with allowing more freely accessible porn for the pedos.  The girls don't think that they're hurting anyone, they don't look at any picture larger than the one that they've taken and sent

The bigger picture of it all is that somewhere, someone that they don't want to see them in that state is looking at it.  That person might know them. That person might inevitably plot against them and make their lives into a very painful one.  Teens, especially young ones [and some adults] are all about the moment.

Teens are oversexed with their hormones, peer pressure, and images from society.   

While the parents shouldn't really be punished, they should be made more aware that their little darlings are sex on legs waiting to happen.  Teen pregnancy shouldn't be their first slap in the face about it.  Parents also shouldn't be so naïve, thinking their children innocent and incapable of such sexual things.

But perhaps…the lawsuits, while frivolous, are a good thing. Because they DO get media attention and most parents watch the news or are at work and hear these things.  Then they start thinking.

ALCU or not, these things need addressed and media coverage so parents will pull their heads out of the sand and start limiting their kids on what they can and can't do or at least discuss potential punishments for such crimes in their households

Quote from: Doomsday
For female offenders, that meant attending classes designed to help the participants "gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today's society," and require them to write a report on what the students did and "why it was wrong"

And as well the bit about classes in the OP's article… I am also WTF on this.  Classes shouldn't be required. It's the parents that should handle that.  And what does it mean to be a girl in today's society. I don't really think that the 'experts' know.

Online Doomsday

Yeah, that's my qualm about it.

What does it mean to be a girl in today’s society? WHAT WE GODDAMN TELL YOU!
Why was it wrong? BECAUSE WE SAID SO!

Offline OldSchoolGamer

This^2 or ^3.

Time for parents to be parents, and the State to stop rationalizing more interference in our lives.

I have mixed opinions on this topic. The parents need a wakeup call on providing their children with freely accessible forms of digital photography.  When I was that age, you had to take your film to the photographer. That meant that someone had to develop these pictures and would be looking at them. The potential for my mother being kind and offering to pick up my photos - and looking at them - was one that was large.  She always looked at my pictures and how in the hell would I explain ones like that and then…how would I get them to a computer.  Those things were what kept me personally from doing things like that - the fear of the repercussions.

Now there are no repercussions, it's a snap, a matter of a few buttons, a quick erase, and parents will never know.

While I don't agree that the kids should get much more than parental intervention; getting those privileged devices taken away, and a stern punishment to teach them right from wrong, and that everything has a time and place - which means 18 for the boobies and not before… It does cause a big issue with allowing more freely accessible porn for the pedos.  The girls don't think that they're hurting anyone, they don't look at any picture larger than the one that they've taken and sent

The bigger picture of it all is that somewhere, someone that they don't want to see them in that state is looking at it.  That person might know them. That person might inevitably plot against them and make their lives into a very painful one.  Teens, especially young ones [and some adults] are all about the moment.

Teens are oversexed with their hormones, peer pressure, and images from society.   

While the parents shouldn't really be punished, they should be made more aware that their little darlings are sex on legs waiting to happen.  Teen pregnancy shouldn't be their first slap in the face about it.  Parents also shouldn't be so naïve, thinking their children innocent and incapable of such sexual things.

But perhaps…the lawsuits, while frivolous, are a good thing. Because they DO get media attention and most parents watch the news or are at work and hear these things.  Then they start thinking.

ALCU or not, these things need addressed and media coverage so parents will pull their heads out of the sand and start limiting their kids on what they can and can't do or at least discuss potential punishments for such crimes in their households

And as well the bit about classes in the OP's article… I am also WTF on this.  Classes shouldn't be required. It's the parents that should handle that.  And what does it mean to be a girl in today's society. I don't really think that the 'experts' know.

Offline Sabby

Please forgive if this post comes across as spam -- I just wanted to point out something funny.

The title of this thread made me think at first that the prosecutor must now give away his child porn pics for free, instead of charging for them.

 ;D

Oh, but thats only temporary... dispute over the proper pricing standards perhaps?