Civil Liberties

Minors Exploiting Themselves


What possesses prosecutors to bring these kinds of cases?

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified "sexual behavior." The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next–perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm–but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.

He is 17. She is 16. They were actually convicted. Worse, the sentence was upheld on appeal.

Judge James Wolf, a former prosecutor, wrote the majority opinion.

Wolf speculated that Amber and Jeremy could have ended up selling the photos to child pornographers ("one motive for revealing the photos is profit") or showing the images to their friends. He claimed that Amber had neither the "foresight or maturity" to make a reasonable estimation of the risks on her own. And he said that transferring the images from a digital camera to a PC created innumerable problems: "The two computers (can) be hacked."

So they've been convicted of exploiting themselves. And though the article doesn't explicitly say, I would guess that the two will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

There's more. From the majority opinion:

Further, if these pictures are ultimately released, future damage may be done to these minors' careers or personal lives. These children are not mature enough to make rational decisions concerning all the possible negative implications of producing these videos.

Emphasis mine. And what effect, I wonder, does Judge Wolf think a child pornography conviction will have on "these minors' careers or personal lives?"

Also note that the acts themselves weren't illegal. Only photographing them.