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Colorado Cops Say Sex With Teens OK So Long as There's No Sexting

What?

Mesa CountyMesa CountyIn what his local newspaper is calling an "ironic legal twist," Ronald Lee Love faces a felony child sexual-exploitation charge for exchanging explicit text-messages with someone with whom it would have been legal for him to have had sex.

Love, who lives in Mesa County, Colorado, began corresponding last summer when he was 25 with a 15-year-old girl who lives in New England. It's unclear how they met. But according to Love's arrest affidavit, he explicitly insisted that their relationship remain digital because he believed physical activity was illegal.

"We have to keep us on the down low til ur 18," Love texted, suggesting that otherwise their relationship could "screw [his] life up."

In Colorado, however, the age of consent is 15, so long as a sexual partner is not 10 or more years older. Young adults through age 27 may legally have sex with older teenagers in certain circumstances. Whether you think this is appropriate or not, the state of Colorado has decided that it is. Yet authorities in this same state have decided someone "inducing" a person under 18 to flash them is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and lifetime state supervision.

Recieving or possessing sexually-oriented images of someone under age 18, meanwhile, is a felony punishable by one to six years per offense—even if a minor sends them unsolicited and regardless of whether the person possessing the images is themselves a minor or just a few years older.

For young adults in Colorado, simply receiving a dirty picture from someone they can legally have sex with could turn them into serious sex criminals.

Mesa County sheriff's deputies arrested Love in March on three counts of sexual exploitation of a child and four counts of promoting obscenity to a minor—a rap package that could amount to 13 to 39 years in prison. The county has held him without bond ever since.

Prosecutors this week announced Love agreed to a plea deal of one count of sexual exploitation of a child.

Local authorities defended their position that sexting is worse than actual sex, contending that even if there is no indication a person intends to share or distribute such images—they could, some day. While a real-life sexual liaison might be a one-or limited-time thing, the teen sending Love her photo could "potentially come back to haunt this girl 30 years from now," said Mesa County District Attorney District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.

Photo Credit: Philip Toscano/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's very simple: sex between two consenting people is fine, while pictures of body parts are evil.

  • Jerryskids||

    Kids - better cover that bathroom mirror before you take a shower lest you commit a felony by a sideways glance at your naked body.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Recieving or possessing sexually-oriented images of someone under age 18, meanwhile, is a felony punishable by one to six years per offense—even if a minor sends them unsolicited and regardless of whether the person possessing the images is themselves a minor or just a few years older.

    Terrifying af, because some of these young, nubile, sexual beings sext like whoa.

  • Robbzilla||

    Wait, so a minor can send a naked pic to anyone and the person receiving the pic has committed a felony? What the actual fuck? What's to keep someone from getting a somewhat politically active 17 year old to send naked pics to, say... the police chief's phone and ousting him? Or the Governor?

    I think we should get right on it! One naked 17 year old could have this stupid law overturned overnight.

  • Ben of Houston||

    It is a federal felony to receive or possess an illicit picture of anyone under the age of 18.
    UNLESS you report it to the authorities within a reasonable span of time. You have to actively participate in receiving it or keeping it. There might be a reasonable defense if it was unrequested and immediately delete it. I don't recall the specifics, but the federal criminal code is online if you want to read it. The law isn't long.

    However, I remember that it does specifically state that age of consent is not a defense.

  • ||

    While a real-life sexual liaison might be a one-or limited-time thing, the teen sending Love her photo could "potentially come back to haunt this girl 30 years from now," said Mesa County District Attorney District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.

    I thought if that happened, then you just say you were raped? I mean what's the point of allowing sex, denying sexting, and having such loose definitions of rape unless you're just looking for any way possible to punish... oh, right.

  • Robbzilla||

    And if she had sex with him, she could have a baby, which will possibly haunt her for the rest of her life.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    Just when I thought I couldn't hate the state any more than I already do...

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Recieving or possessing sexually-oriented images of someone under age 18, meanwhile, is a felony punishable by one to six years per offense—even if a minor sends them unsolicited...

    So, I take it if some underage girl or boy sends a nude pic to the wrong number, and that person does what he or she believes to be the right thing* and reports it to law enforcement, they could end up being charge with a felony and spend up to 6 years in prison? It's Kafka's world, we're just living in it.

    *The real "right thing" to do is to delete the pic and never mention it to anyone, ever. And if the person tries to contact you again, go get a new phone and change phone numbers. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to do that but it beats 6 years in prison because some dipshit teenager couldn't figure out how to dial their phone.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    The real truth is that they could turn anything you do into something illegal. Just give them the right motivation, and the state will find a way to fuck you over.

  • Griffin3||

    And, since the phone company keeps track of everything texted to you forever, I imagine they could interpret your deletion of the pic as "destruction of evidence".

  • Ben of Houston||

    No, read the law before griping about it. It explicitly states that if you report it within a reasonable span of time (I think 3 days) then there is no fault.

    Also, you have to know or reasonably suspect that the girl is underage. You cannot accidentally break this law.

    There are some bad things about this law, most notably the section where age of consent is not a defense. Don't weaken your argument by including falsehoods.

  • Ben of Houston||

    No, read the law before griping about it. It explicitly states that if you report it within a reasonable span of time (I think 3 days) then there is no fault.

    Also, you have to know or reasonably suspect that the girl is underage. You cannot accidentally break this law.

    There are some bad things about this law, most notably the section where age of consent is not a defense. Don't weaken your argument by including falsehoods.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Local authorities defended their position that sexting is worse than actual sex, contending that even if there is no indication a person intends to share or distribute such images—they could, some day.

    And they really, really needed an easy arrest and conviction.

  • ||

    Can't let just anybody horn in on the road-to-hell paving racket.

  • FreeToFear||

    Hey those sex trafficking numbers aren't going to pad themselves

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's the core of this issue. They do this because it allows them to get a conviction. We then work back to a rationale for why it should be a crime. There's nothing more complex at play here.

  • juris imprudent||

    ENB, you might need to fix that first link.

    What is most curious to me is how this came to the attention of the authorities.

  • juris imprudent||

    Damn Elizabeth - this is your link... http://www.wbrc.com/story/3603.....-addicted, which has squat to do with the Colorado case.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "The county has held him without bond ever since."

    VIII Amendment should have prevented that. Only if there were judges who actually did their jobs.
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

  • Cloudbuster||

    They polled 10 Colorado billionaires who all affirmed that the bail was not excessive for them.

  • Ride 'Em||

    This points out a larger problem: overcharging and holding the accused without bail or on an insanely high bail, delaying the trail and getting the defendant to take the plea deal with probation and time served. The DA gets a conviction, builds a resume for a higher office, and the defendant suffers for the rest of his/her life. And the defendant has paid out an insane amount of legal fees.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    And the unconstitutional sexual registry.

    The Constitution specifically mentions criminal penalties being okay but nothing about punishments after one finishes their sentence. We all know sexual registries are punishments, especially since you go to jail for not registering.

  • MikeyParks||

    Some seriously distorted thinking there in the writing of those laws. Mr. Love's mistake was in thinking the law would contain some logic. He was wrong.

  • Henry Baker||

    This one's only slightly more insane than the usual insanity of just another day of "justice" as usual in the American police state.

  • Ken Hagler||

    'the teen sending Love her photo could "potentially come back to haunt this girl 30 years from now," '

    It could come back to haunt her much sooner if the Shariah enforcers where she lives decide to arrest her on child pornography charges for taking pictures of herself.

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