Sexting

Police Investigating 12 Virginia Students for Sexting, Could Charge Them With Possessing Child Porn

"A felony that carries a minimum five-year sentence."

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Texting
Tarajane / Dreamstime

Police are investigating as many as a dozen teenagers at two separate schools in Falls Church, Virginia, as part of an ever-widening sexting inquiry.

Police seized five cell phones and have recovered multiple "explicit images" that students shared with each other on Snapchat and via text messages, according to The Washington Post.

The investigation began when Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School's school resource officer—the cop charged with keeping the peace on campus—learned that students had been filming fights and possibly circulating nude photos. One cell photo led him to another, and another, and another:

The second male student said the latter photo was of a ninth-grader at George Mason High School in Falls Church and told police he received it from a third male student at Henderson, according to the search warrant.

That led police to a third male student, who told investigators that the ninth-grader exposed her breasts during a live Instagram session and he took an image of it, the warrant says. The third male student admitted to sending that image to the second male student and another male student at Henderson.

Obviously, someone needs to talk to these kids about respecting other people's privacy, and explain to them that pictures shared on Snapchat don't magically disappear. To the extent that the illicit activity undermines social cohesion in school, or contributes to bullying, administrators can discipline the kids involved—though they should keep in mind that the point of punishment is to teach the kids to lead more responsible lives, not to ruin said lives.

Unfortunately, police involvement could lead to some very bad outcomes:

Under Virginia law, teens who sext can be prosecuted using the state's child porn charge, a felony that carries a minimum five-year sentence. In practice, however, such cases more often end with a plea to a lesser charge.

Even lesser charges can have life-altering consequences for young people, making it harder for them to get into college, find jobs, or even form healthy relationships with other teens. We shouldn't turn kids into pariahs for engaging in incredibly common, age-appropriate—if undesirable—behavior.

Virginia police have a history of pursuing teen sexting cases with misguided zealotry. In 2014, police in northern Virginia sought—and obtained—a warrant to give a teenage boy an erection so that they could photograph it and compare it with the evidence they had already gathered. One of the officers involved later committed suicide after he was accused of sexually abusing minors.

It's well worth asking, then, whether the police should really be in the business of collecting sexually explicit images of teenagers as part of an effort to hold them criminally accountable. It doesn't seem like the best use of the cops' time, and it's definitely not what's best for the teens.

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30 responses to “Police Investigating 12 Virginia Students for Sexting, Could Charge Them With Possessing Child Porn

  1. It doesn’t seem like the best use of the cops’ time,

    Are you kidding? This is the way they get their best reading material. Either that or go to the FBI servers.

  2. I would bet the Falls Church PD has a long waiting list of officers who want to be assigned to the cell phone examination beat.

    1. I do it for the children.

  3. Proposed alt-text: Mom, what does “Cleveland Steamer” mean?

    1. It’s kind of like a “Chicago Sunroof” but not quite the same.

    2. Thanks. I can never unknow that, now.

    3. “Would you like a praline?”

      Just say no, folks.

    4. Thanks. I can never unknow that, now.

  4. It seems child porn laws are being used against minors for exploiting themselves, just as human/sex trafficking laws exist almost solely to prosecute prostitutes for prostituting themselves. In other words, “it’s for your own good,” right?

  5. This is what happens when you don’t push for complete repeal of drug laws and fire most of the federal police.

    The drug warriors have started to shift to be sex warriors.

    1. History repeats, since drug warriors were shifted from the revenoors.

  6. The nude human body is not pornographic .

    1. Generally true, however we’re talking about children here. You get that, right?

      1. The human body is not pornographic, sex can be sometimes be considered pornography by narrow minded people , but nudity is never pornographic.

  7. Ah, yes, Falls Church, VA. More correctly named “Falls Gulch”, where the entire city is a speed trap. I don’t know if it’s true now, but it used to be all speeding tickets that were reported to the DMV went to File 13. So you had to pay the fine, but you weren’t assessed points on your driver’s license.

    1. That makes sense. Falls Church is close to DC. No wonder they are cracking down on racy pics.

  8. Police seized five cell phones and have recovered multiple “explicit images”…

    …which they copied over to their personal “spank bank” for later.

  9. The investigation began when Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School’s school resource officer?the cop charged with keeping the peace on campus?learned that students had been filming fights and possibly circulating nude photos. One cell photo led him to another, and another, and another

    At which point the SRO became severely dehydrated.

  10. Virginia police have a history of pursuing teen sexting cases with misguided zealotry. In 2014, police in northern Virginia sought?and obtained?a warrant to give a teenage boy an erection so that they could photograph it and compare it with the evidence they had already gathered. One of the officers involved later committed suicide after he was accused of sexually abusing minors.

    At least that story had a happy ending.

  11. ever-widening sexting inquiry.

    “Ever-widening”, eh?

  12. Why are kids turning over their cell phones?

  13. Obviously, someone needs to talk to these kids about respecting other people’s privacy…

    For a so-called libertine publication I’d think you would be talking more about getting past our puritanical thinking.

  14. Excellent, this all part of our plan to make native Virginians afraid of the police every time they get horny so that it is easier for the Jews to replace them.

    Seriously, though, Virginia already forces kids to sit through health classes between grades k through 10 and learn this curriculum. The tenth grade standards include, “Analyze the consequences of using acts of violence to settle disputes” and “Identify characteristics of healthy peer, family, and dating relationships”. Instead of locking them up to teach them not make selfie porn until they are older, Virginia should include minimum age laws in the health curriculum. If the legislatures want to keep some sort of deterrent, a nominal fine will do.

  15. Felony charges should not be an option – at worst this should be a misdemeanor.

    What *should* be a felony is adults exploiting children – let’s say after a certain age difference the level of crime goes up.

    I think this whole thing of “threaten these children with felony charges so they ‘admit’ so some lesser charge” is not an ethical or ultimately viable system. Charge them only with stuff you’re willing to see them convicted of.

  16. Leave it to Reason to characterize a 9th grade girl flashing her boobs to the world as incredibly common and age appropriate. This is why this country and this culture is circling the drain. Kids behave irresponsibly and parents blow it off, calling it typical adolescent behavior. “It’s ok, all the cool kids are doing it.” And that position pretty much explains Reason on nearly every controversial topic. Drugs? It’s ok because keeping it off the street is hard. Porn? It’s ok, people like it and it doesn’t hurt anyone. Keep following that path of least resistance and base nature.

    1. Have you ever seen what Soave looks like? It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine him being the type who hangs around the park wearing nothing but a raincoat.

    2. It is common for 15-year-olds to “play doctor” and “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” and it has been roughly since people learned to wear clothes. Kids have behaved “irresponsibly” just about as long.

      Reason isn’t telling parents to “blow it off.”

      What is wrong, when 15-year-olds are caught sexting, is for the criminal justice system to take kids away from their parents, lock them up in prisons until they are 20, then destroy them by forcing them to register as sexual predators for the rest of their lives.

      1. Are you confusing 5 and 15 year olds?

    3. According to the CDC about 1/4 of 9th graders in the USA are not virgins. Adding a selfie to an activity that a significant portion of American 9th graders are doing does not make the activity beyond the pale. We’ve got to update the laws rather than lock up the kids. Make it punishable with a small fine if the criminal is under 18. That creates some deterrence and allows for an investigation without ruining a kid’s life. The possibility of an investigation will scare off adults who might want to participate in creating, viewing, or sharing the pics.

  17. And at the same time, it can be mandatory for a high school to allow a trans person to use the showers with the opposite genetic sex (depending on the local school board etc). So, naked in person, ok, naked pictures? 5 years prison. yeah

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