Risque Cell Phone Pics Results in Teen Arrest, Mislabelling

Dennis Faas's picture

Six Pennsylvania high school students are among the latest teens facing child pornography charges also known as sexting: the act of sending or receiving nude or semi-nude pictures on cell phones and sharing them with others. The term 'sexting' comes from 'texting', which is text-messaging over a cell phone.

Three teenage girls aged 14 and 15 are facing charges for taking nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves and sending them via their cell phones to three boys aged 16 and 17. The boys are facing charges of possession.

The photos were discovered in October after school officials confiscated a cell phone from a male student for violating school rules. A nude photo of a classmate was found on the cell phone. Police were called and an investigation led them to other cell phones that contained more photos.

Authorities Sending a Strong Message to Minors

A police captain said the first photograph was a nude self portrait taken by a juvenile female.  The captain stressed how dangerous the practice truly was, since pictures on a cell phone could end up on the Internet.

A statement issued by the school district said the investigation didn't turn up an evidence of inappropriate activity on school grounds, other than the violation of its electronic devices policy.

Authorities decided to file child pornography charges in order to send a strong message to other minors who are considering sending nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves to other friends.

Prosecuting Minors Taking Pictures of Themselves "Counterproductive"

Patrick Artur, a Philadelphia defense attorney who claims to have handled at least 80 child pornography cases, says that prosecuting minors for taking photos of themselves is counterproductive to the purpose of both state and federal child pornography laws that are intended to prevent the sexual abuse of children by 'dirty old men in raincoats,' noting that this situation is clearly overkill. (Source: msn.com)

Under Pennsylvania's child pornography law, there is no mandatory minimum sentence -- unlike the federal statute. Under Pennsylvania law, the students may not be incarcerated if found guilty, but a conviction of that type would have serious implications, including forcing them to register as sex offenders for at least 10 years.

The prosecutor wanted to force the kids into a 10-hour class on pornography and sexual violence, threatening them with charges for sexual abuse of a minor, but a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against any such prosecutions. (Source: zdnet.com)

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