More "Sexting" Nonsense

A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been arrested on child pornography charges for posting nude photos of herslef to MySpace, bringing us once again into the bizarre realm where not only is it possibly to criminally exploit oneself, but where police and prosecutors valiantly protect children from making bad decisions by arresting them and threatening them with sex offender status.

And here's a case in Pennsylvania where the girls weren't even actually nude:

The picture that investigators from the office of District Attorney George P. Skumanick of Wyoming County had was taken two years earlier at a slumber party. It showed Marissa and a friend from the waist up. Both were wearing bras.

Mr. Skumanick said he considered the photo “provocative” enough to tell Marissa and the friend, Grace Kelly, that if they did not attend a 10-hour class dealing with pornography and sexual violence, he was considering filing a charge of sexual abuse of a minor against both girls. If convicted, they could serve time in prison and would probably have to register as sex offenders.

Once again, this shouldn't be a law enforcement issue. It's a parent issue. You're doing a hell of a lot more damage by arresting these teens and threatening them with prosecution than passing naked photos between cell phones possibly could.

Jacob Sullum and prior Reason coverage of "sexting" arrests here and here.

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  • ||

    Stupid is expected of teens...and is now a bona fide occupational qualification for public persecutors, er, prosecutors, any fucktard with a badge and authoritay.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    It's obvious what's really going on here. Government agents are looking for an excuse to look at provocative photos of teenage girls. I can't blame them for wanting to, but I can't condone their way of going about it.

    Anti-porn crusaders see more porn than anybody.

  • ||

    How is it abuse if you do it to yourself? That would make 90% of us criminals and 10% of us liars. I think this is their plan, to give everyone a criminal record.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    we have a beacon of semi-sanity here in the Ohizzle. Someone finally got around to making "sexting" a misdemeanor, instead of the felony + registration requirement it carried earlier.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    instead of "making" I should say "introducing a bill to make sexting".

  • SpongePaul||

    we have gone to far. the pres laughing at his people, the gov making felonons and lifelong sex regsters out of teenage girls and boys. Its time to either. A) revolt B) hide with my 1915 m-91 and hope it blows over or C) move out of this country. with option C being favored in a few years if things have not changed.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    How is it abuse if you do it to yourself?

    Surely, you've heard of thoughtcrime?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Once again, this shouldn't be a law enforcement issue. It's a parent issue.

    Clearly, this makes entirely too much sense.

  • ||

    The moralist ninnies have always gotten the vapors over "self abuse".

    Kevin

  • ||

    What amazes me is that the prosecutor doesn't get slapped down by a judge or public outcry.

  • Seedy Little Monkey||

    "Anti-porn crusaders see more porn than anybody."

    I seriously doubt that...

  • aix42||

    3 of the Bra girls are suing the DA for makin threats to charge em with Felonies if they did not attend a 10 hour course on the horrors of thier behaviour. It won't go far, but good on em for tryin.

    Can kids take pictures of a boys shirts and skins game? maybe as long as none of the skins have man-boobs?

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    you guys need to make the outcry. I mean, these are individual states doing the Stupid Dance, not the federal government.

  • ||

    I plan to file charges against myself with the NLRB for labor exploitation. I expect to win a *huge* award.

  • Reinmoose||

    In these parts the local news pimped a special they were doing on sexting and each time they had a commercial for their upcoming special they played a clip of a LEO saying something to the effect of "what these kids don't realize is that what they're doing does qualify to the standards of child pornography."

    Every time it came on I screamed and threw something.

  • ||

    I'm glad to see the "Bra girls" are suing the D A, but I'd prefer it if they formed a mob, dragged him out of his bed in the dead of night, and tarred and feathered him.

  • ||

    We should arrest everyone with a camera phone because it is inconceivable that one would have one unless they planned on taking naked pictures of minors on it!

  • ||

    P Brooks - even better if you are self employed!

  • ||

    I would tell the DA to bring his fucking criminal complaint. I would also bring a complaint against him to the State Bar, and ask that his license either be suspended or stripped entirely for abuse of office.

    If he was actually stupid enough to file felony charges, I would defend by showing pictures of twelve year old girls wearing swimming suits (as this would show exactly as much of the naughty stuff as two girls wearing bras). I would ask the jury if they thought any of this was child porn, whether they wanted to be charged with child porn if their daughters ever left the house wearing a swimming suit, whether they thought they should be charged with felonies for having seen these pictures, etc.

  • Ska||

    Will someone please sue Ambercrombie and Fitch for halving half naked boys on their shopping bags?


    Re: 10 hour sex abuse class. Is that where they normally send actual, real sex offenders? Because having two 13 yo girls attend that class sounds like a brilliant idea. More likely it's just something that these girls will sit through, and then say how fucking retarded it was afterwards.

  • ||

    domo-

    That is precisely the point.

  • jtuf||

    This seems like a relatively moderate police response. Granted, the threat of charging the girls with a felon is extreme and a 10 hour class is excessive. However, I'm OK with the police having a short talk with minors who post provocative pictures. It's like the cop on the beat who reminds a store owner that he should fix the bolt on his door. Handing out safety tips is a standard part of a police officer's duties.

  • ||

    I wonder how many "hard copies" of the Jersey girl's photos would be found if the FBI locked down the police station and did a thorough search.

  • The Angry Optimist ||

    I would also bring a complaint against him to the State Bar, and ask that his license either be suspended or stripped entirely for abuse of office.

    And you would lose. There is no abuse of power on the part of the DA. The elements of the crime are met. These ridiculous prosecutions are a symptom, and you can thank the legislature and your friends and neighbors for the disease.

  • ||

    I am very worried about one aspect of this issue. Does anyone know if ther is a statute of limitations on these crimes? I...er..someone may have touched himself before the age of eighteen.

  • Dello||

    So if my underage son masterbates, could he then (besides having God kill a kitten) be charged with indecent liberties with a minor?

  • Ska||

    I'm sure the class for kids is separate from the class for sex offenders who are over 18. I can't imagine anyone being foolish enough to sent them to the same class.

  • ||

    Mr. Skumanick said he considered the photo "provocative" enough to tell Marissa and the friend, Grace Kelly, that if they did not attend a 10-hour class dealing with pornography and sexual violence, he was considering filing a charge of sexual abuse of a minor against both girls. If convicted, they could serve time in prison and would probably have to register as sex offenders.



    Oh, come on jtuf. Safety tips? MacGruff the Crime Dog doesn't threaten you with sexual abuse charges and sex offender status.

  • jtuf||

    Sorry, my error. I wrote that last comment (12:34 pm). I ment to address it to Ska and put his name in the text. I put it in the "name" box instead.

  • ||

    You are only as good as the society that you have. These are no isolated incidents. When you have society where people as stupid as George P. Skumanick are common and in positions of authority, you really don't have much of a chance. I am very pessimistic about the future these days.

  • ||

    This seems like a relatively moderate police response. Granted, the threat of charging the girls with a felon is extreme and a 10 hour class is excessive. However, I'm OK with the police having a short talk with minors who post provocative pictures. It's like the cop on the beat who reminds a store owner that he should fix the bolt on his door. Handing out safety tips is a standard part of a police officer's duties.

    Threats of prosecution if you don't attend the propoganda session is a "relatively moderate police response" or is it "extreme" and excessive"?

    Make up your mind.

  • Jeff P||

    Why hasn't all of Telemundo been arrested for exploiting pre-teen girls?

  • ||

    Does this DA belong to the Taliban? It's obvious we need laws to protect all females that require them to not leave the house unless they are covered head to toe in a burlap bag.

  • jtuf||

    SugarFree, I said it was relatively moderate and I agreed that 10 hours is too much and that threatening to press charges was over the line. If the police had just had a short talk with the girls and the parents, what would be wrong with that?

  • ed||

    The rest of the world looks at us and laughs.
    Except the Muslim countries, of course.
    They think we're being too lenient.

  • JB||

    Here are some words for dickless District Attorney George P. Skumanick: If you don't send me a million dollars by tomorrow, then I am going to accuse you of being a sex offender because you get off on harassing little girls.

    What a walking, talking piece of shit.

  • ed||

    Just to be on the safe side, I'm dumping my Miley Cyrus photos.

  • Reinmoose||

    If we're in the business of prosecuting thought crimes it seems to me that Mr. Skumanick needs to be picked up for finding the pictures provocative.

  • ||

    Think about this for a second. The reason why we ban child pornography is because it victimizes children. Okay. So in this case, the girls in the pictures were vicimized and thus the pictures are illegal. Now in this case, the girls did something that caused them to be victimized; namely took the pictures. But they are still victims. They took the pictures and enabled people to victimize them.

    Now imagine this situation. The same two girls get drunk and pass out half naked in the park. This allows two passers by to lift up their clothing and look at them and maybe cop the odd feel. Now in that case would anyone argue that the girls' obvious foolishness and even illegal behavior in drinking in anyway made them "responsible" for the perverts in the park looking up their skirts? No. Given that how they in this case responsible for people looking at thier pictures? Isn't this just blaming the victim and the same logic that allegedly primitive societies use when they do things like punish rape victims?

  • jtuf||

    J sub D, I should have said relative to what for clarity. This is the most moderate police response to make the Hit and Run blog. In most of these posts, the police charge the kids right away, lock them up for 10 years, and stigmatize them for life with a sex offender labels. Compared to that, the police response was moderate. It was still more severe than it should have been. If the police had just had a talk with the girls and their parents, I would support that.

  • Ska||

    Why hasn't all of Telemundo been arrested for exploiting pre-teen girls?

    I don't if Sabata Gigante is using underaged girls, but damn telemundo understands what makes a good variety show. Their soap operas are pretty awesome too.

  • ||

    If the police had just had a short talk with the girls and the parents, what would be wrong with that?

    The fact that the police were using their resources to track down kids who post pictures of themselves in a bra, basically showing nothing that millions of 14-year-old girls don't already expose at the beach or poolside in a perfectly legal manner.

    Maybe if it was actual nude pictures going around, especially without the girls' knowledge, maybe I'd be fine with tracking down the kid who started passing it around and legally slap him or her really, really hard. But sex offender status? Arrest? No fucking way.

  • JB||

    Fixed:

    I'm glad to see the "Bra girls" are suing the D A, but I'd prefer it if they formed a mob, dragged him out of his bed in the dead of night, and tarred and feathered him cut his dick off.

  • ||

    Every time it came on I screamed and threw something.

    Just don't bite anyone's hands off, mm'kay?

  • ||

    John,

    I'm with you, but there is a bit of faulty analogy in your argument.

    Girls posting pictures equals girls passing out drunk, but looking at freely posted pictures is not the same as looking/touching passed out girls. The girls consented to having the pictures looked at by posting them in a place where they knew others would see them.

    The real equivilent is if the drunk girls were flashing people in the park and the cops arrested someone for taking a look. Nothing happened without the girls consent, but arresting them for doing nothing illegal is a huge hit of blaming the victim, just like you suggest.

  • ||

    Clarification

    The real equivilent is if the drunk girls were flashing people in the park by lifting their shirts and showing off their bras and the cops arrested

  • Reinmoose||

    SugarFree -
    You're almost there, buddy.

    The real equivilent is if the drunk girls were flashing people in the park by lifting their shirts and showing off their bras and the cops arrested someone them for taking because the cops took a look and found it "provocative"

  • ||

    If the police had just had a talk with the girls and their parents, I would support that.

    That has possibly happened somewhere in America but I doubt it. Our society is so hung-up about adolescent sexuality we turn any evidence that it's being acted upon into a crime. Any cop/child abuse investigator would fear for his job and possible prosecution themslves if they handled something like this at the proper level. The rightful proscription of sexual abuse of children (which this obviously isn't) by adults has morphed into a national witch hunt bordering on mass hysteria right before our eyes.

  • aix42||

    Other issues:
    The DA got hold of pics from cell phones confiscated by the school. So, of course authoritays are allowed to extract any and all data from the phone,'cause the school must protect the children, not their quaint 'rights'

    Schools call the cops, not parents? school choice may help with this too: Here at not-dumb-fuck high we defer to you, the parents....

  • ||

    "Excuse me ma'am. I find your 13 year old daughter sexually attractive so I'm going to have to take her in for exploiting a minor"

  • Sex Offender Issues||

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2007/12/child-sex-offenders.html

    No I do not think young kids doing this, nor those experimenting with sex and just being kids, should be labeled a sex offender and potentially their lives ruined before they start. But, if they are able to be charged with a sex crime and labeled a child molester, then why not for producing and distributing child porn? Maybe when a lot of kids are caught up in this mess, then the legislature will see the mess they have created! Just look at the tons of articles at the link provided.

  • ||

    Reinmoose,

    I was being uncharacteristically charitable.

  • Xeones||

    I can't imagine anyone being foolish enough to sent them to the same class.

    I don't know -- someone was dumb enough to charge them in the first place.

  • ||

    In the case of the the 3 girls being blackmailed into registering for the class or risk felony charges, one of the photos in question is of a girl in a bath towel under her breasts (the breasts are exposed). Does that really qualify as child pornography?

    I was under the impression that even if there are some nude bits (like boobies) in a picture, that doesn't automatically make it child pornography. (And that seems to be the position of the ACLU as well). I was under the impression that there has to be some kind of sexual context or something.

    Is this true?

  • ||

    Tom, you looked at the picture? I'm reporting you as a sex offender. PERVERT!!!

  • ||

    Tom, you looked at the picture? I'm reporting you as a sex offender. PERVERT!!!

    Epi -- Sadly, NO. I just read a lascivious/TITillating description of it. Although I suppose that too could be considered pornographic, no?

  • ||

    You're both under arrest for even talking about these things! Ruff!

  • ||

    "The real equivilent is if the drunk girls were flashing people in the park and the cops arrested someone for taking a look. Nothing happened without the girls consent, but arresting them for doing nothing illegal is a huge hit of blaming the victim, just like you suggest."

    the girls flashing is a really good analogy. Better than mine. Looked at that way, I could kind of see why you could maybe say this was indecent exposure in some way. If an adult took naked pictures of themselves and sent it to someone without their consent, is that a crime? I am not sure.

  • ||

    dragged him out of his bed in the dead of night, and tarred and feathered him.

    Um, the Bra Girls (good name!) had better not be wearing anything less than full pajamas during this event. And god forbid that the feathering take place in some kind of pillow fight. WAY TOO PROVOCATIVE.

    These girls need to realize what a dangerous object the female body is. Good thing the gov't is here to teach them the appropriate level of shame.

  • Reinmoose||

    If an adult took naked pictures of themselves and sent it to someone without their consent, is that a crime?

    This reminds me of yesterday on my way home from work when I walked by a guy who was standing at a street corner just wearing a thong.

  • ||

    Will someone please sue Ambercrombie and Fitch for halving half naked boys on their shopping bags?

    RC'z Law strikes again!

  • ||

    RC'z HTML skills fail again.

  • ||

    If an adult took naked pictures of themselves and sent it to someone without their consent, is that a crime? I am not sure.

    It is in most places, just like flashing.

    But the flashing analogy breaks down too, as I think about it. Is placing something somewhere where only people who I agree to see it can see it the same as sending you a picture of my junk that just auto-loads "forcing" you to look like it?

    Side-stepping age of consent, even the nude picture wasn't going up in a public place, only her MySpace friends could see it.

    The analogy is: Would it be a crime for someone to have a nude picture of themselves hanging up in their house? Are they molesting the guests to their house if they do?

  • ||

    These girls need to realize what a dangerous object the female body is.

    It's like a gun loaded with lust bullets, ready to murder some poor police officer with impure thoughts.

  • ||

    This reminds me of yesterday on my way home from work when I walked by a guy who was standing at a street corner just wearing a thong.

    Was it this guy?

  • Reinmoose||

    that just auto-loads "forcing" you to look like it?

    oh god. OH GOD! That sounds Horrible!

  • Reinmoose||

    Tom - I am not clicking on that link. I can see the URL is John Mayer in a mankini.

    It was not John Mayer

  • ||

    a guy who was standing at a street corner just wearing a thong.

    Episiarch has been hanging around your neighborhood, too? The dude's in good shape, but he should really groom his bikini area a little more before wearing something so revealing. Get a bro-zilian now, before it's illegal!

  • ||

    look *at* it

    Oh, RC? I got more empirical evidence for you...

  • ||

    Would it be a crime for someone to have a nude picture of themselves hanging up in their house?

    Heidi Klum and SEAL do this already

    ... A report from the New York Daily News details that the pair have numerous nude portraits hanging in their Los Angeles home.



    Apparently the kids are in the photos too, although its unknown if the kids are nude.

    "There are big naked photo portraits of them, with the kids [Leni and Henry]," says a pal.

  • ||

    It's like a gun loaded with lust bullets

    Long live the new flesh!

  • ||

    Tom - I am not clicking on that link. I can see the URL is John Mayer in a mankini.

    Coward! :)

  • Reinmoose||

    Nah, Dagny, it wasn't him. This guy was really skinny. And besides, I only see Epi dressed like that when he decievingly gets me to meet him in alleys. And he doesn't need a bro-zillian because he lasers. It's like a turtle shell down there

  • ||

    Get a bro-zilian now, before it's illegal!

    You know NOTHING about the man, MADAME! His last drum circle supported his decision to remain all natural in his tingling nethers. You have no right to pressure him into such a barbaric ritual for your sick pleasures.

  • ||

    And he doesn't need a bro-zillian because he lasers. It's like a turtle shell down there

    Ha, ha! You totally got mug-raped by the wrong guy.

  • ||

    Thank you for setting these perverts straight, moose. It's all true--the hot dogs, the oatmeal, everything.

  • ||

    when he decievingly gets me to meet him in alleys

    Admit it: you like how dirty you feel afterwards.


    His last drum circle supported his decision to remain all natural in his tingling nethers.

    I KNEW you guys got together to talk about your junk.

  • ||

    You know what? This is the thread when I push back from my keyboard and really wonder if talking about Epi's pubes is really what I want out of my life.

  • ||

    And... I'm back.

  • ||

    And, unsurprisingly, NutraSweet finds that it is.

  • ||

    It's... it's... all I've got.

    Excuse me. I have something in my eye.

  • Reinmoose||

    I KNEW you guys got together to talk about your junk.

    Apparently it's not just that. SugarFree is using Episiarch's programming experience to create a program that, when automatically executed, makes you look LIKE his junk.

  • ||

    Somehow, he doesn't leave us much choice, Sug. I dread the day when he finally masters that naked-picture auto-load device.

  • ||

    Reinmoose,

    It would be a beautiful, tumescent world.

  • Lurker||

    Man you guys are weird.

  • ||

    It's teenagers' fault for not making their hormones align with age of consent laws.

  • ||

    Of course it is completely ridiculous that a teen can be charged with what basically amounts to molesting herself.

    But what really concerns me is when the pics are texted and the recipients are then charged with child pornography possession. I have no control over who sends me a message or the content they send. It just shows up on my phone. So if some teenager sends me nude pics unsolicited and/or by accident ( I get wrong number and spam texts)am I a child molester? Does some kind of 2257 compliance notice have to be sent with every picture?

  • ||

    Join us, Lurker. It's bliss...

    Recent good ideas for handles:

    Sculch
    Junk Tunnel
    Eschew The Pig
    BRA Girl
    The Invadorator
    LoveMasheen

  • sam||

    I think this'll actually lead to the end of public education: these kids won't be able to live anywhere near schools, so they'll all just homeschool their own children.

  • ||

    Another shining thread exemplifying why libertarians are oft described as "a little weird".

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • JB||

    These girls need to realize what a dangerous object the female body is.

    As a man, I agree with that isolated statement.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Man you guys are weird.

    Nah, they're cool.

  • *||

    "This reminds me of yesterday on my way home from work when I walked by a guy who was standing at a street corner just wearing a thong."

    My deepest sympathies to you.

  • *||

    "Was it this guy?"

    That's what's known as a slingshot (honest) not a thong.

  • ||

    Anti-porn crusaders see more porn than anybody.

    Comstock was a pervert.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Just don't let your kid leave the house like this

  • ||

    There isn't any way to stop this crap. Mary Beth Buchanan, the western pa. U.S.D.A. who sent tommy chong to jail as part of her war on the constitution, and is presently waging a brilliant campaign against porn with your tax dollars, is still at large because the new obama administration is too scared to kick her neocon nutcase ass out. They don't listen to the people until they get grabbed by an angry mob. So what should have been a harmless teen gag gets a kid a felony conviction and scarred for life. Bastards.

  • Mike Laursen||

    If convicted, they could serve time in prison and would probably have to register as sex offenders.

    Which would involve a strip search, at which point New Jersey would be devastated by a category-five irony storm.

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  • sathi2000||

    I sooo wish I was a teen boy these days. We never had any good scandles like this when I was in school.when you have a body like this... its selfish to keep it to ur self .
    http://www.mirei.com

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