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Man Faces 30 Years in Prison on Child Porn Charges for Taking Sexy Photos of 17-Year-Old Girlfriend When He was 20

Since Ohio's age of consent is 16, it was legal for Edward Marrero to have sex but not to sext.

PhotosOlena YakobchukA 27-year-old Cleveland man faces between 15 and 30 years in prison for allegedly producing child pornography. But no children were harmed by his actions: The man merely took consensual, sexually suggestive pictures of his 17-year-old girlfriend when he was 20.

The age of consent in Ohio is 16, so it was legal for the man, Edward Marrero, to have sex with his girlfriend. It was a crime, however, to photograph her the in the nude, because the federal definition of child pornography covers images of anyone under the age of 18.

According to Cleveland.com, Marrero accidentally admitted his conduct while on the stand in federal court, testifying in defense of a roommate who was also facing child porn charges. (The article does not clarify whether the roommate's alleged crimes were as farcical as Marrero's, and it does not give the context of Marrero's inadvertent confession.) As soon as Marrero had finished testifying, the feds arrested him.

FBI agents later interviewed Marrero's ex-girlfriend, who confirmed that she was 17 at the time the pictures were taken. A conviction will force Marrero to register as a sex offender and could land him in prison for up to 30 years. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's guide to federal child pornography law, "a first time offender convicted of producing child pornography...face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison." Under Ohio law, which also sets the cutoff for child pornography at 18, Marrero would have faced between six months and eight years.

It defies all reason that a man could go to prison for three decades for taking a sexy picture of a teenager who was deemed fully capable of consenting to sex. This is a travesty of justice, a violation of consenting adults' sexual freedoms, an abuse of mandatory minimum sentencing, a blow to states' rights, and an absurd waste of the FBI's time.

Photo Credit: Olena Yakobchuk / Dreamstime

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  • Longtobefree||

    Is this really Robby?
    No "on the other hand"?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    To be sure, the photos may not have been sexy or even tasteful...

  • Dan S.||

    I wonder if non-sexiness of the pictures could actually be a defense. There are sites that legally post nude pictures of children - nudist sites. The point being that the kids are not involved in sexual activity. I'm sure the pictures at issue here don't show any actual sex either, so what is the distinction? That she didn't habitually go around naked? That the pictures were meant as keepsakes to remind him that there had been sex (not shown in the photos)?

  • Wizard4169||

    It's true that nudity doesn't automatically equal pornography, but the distinction is often a bit murky. In any case involving "children", many people seem to find it even harder to separate the two. One standard for porn is "lascivious display of the genitals", so any closeup shots of her crotch might well qualify. Then there's the even more vague standard of "appealing to a prurient interest", which could conceivably apply to just about anything.

  • James Pollock||

    The federal statute that defines child pornography has a fairly extensive definition. I don't recall what it is off the top of my head and don't feel like looking it up, but it is readily Google-able.

    The thing is, it used to include even more things, some of which did not require that an actual child be involved in the production. Which is odd, since one of the major justifications for excluding it from first amendment protection is that you can't make child porn without victimizing a child.

  • James Pollock||

    "The point being that the kids are not involved in sexual activity."

    You don't have to be engaged in sex to be sexy. Weirdly, some things that are decidedly UNsexy to most people are sexy to a few with... call it "specialized" tastes.

    The challenge in coming up with a definition that encompasses every single "bad" image while not capturing any innocent images is why the USSC punted on defining pornography and settled on "community standards".

  • Don't look at me.||

    Pictures of the human body are cause for jail time. Makes sense.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I punish my body every chance I can get.

  • MichaelL||

    Beat it to death?!

  • StackOfCoins||

    Haha imagine a world where we didn't jail people every hour of every day for criminal offenses where no one got hurt.

    Crazy right??

  • Citizen X||

    Why, that'd be pure anarchy!

  • nina33436||

    Can't imagine that world, our society is going crazier by the day!

  • Oli||

    Pictures of a 10 year old should be. In this case, not so much.

  • MichaelL||

    I wonder what they would say about all of those naked picks that we took of our kids. I have a picture of a three year old, who encased her body, and covered the floor with powder, to the point it as comical! I also have the picture of a two year old, naked in the tandem swing in the back yard, eating an apple. The law, in this case, is an ass!?

  • nina33436||

    And you are not in jail yet?! Miscarriage of justice! Lol

  • loveconstitution1789||

    These puritanical sex laws are out of control.

    If judges are not stepping in to fix this and find no probable cause to hold over defendants, why do we even have judges?

  • Zeb||

    To provide harsh punishments to make terrified mothers feel better.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Judges, prosecutors, juries. No one likes a sex pervert. Or even the idea of a sex pervert.

    The natural thing in a litigious society like ours is to arrest and lock away anyone who might even be perceived as a deev.

  • Eman||

    Well, somebody has to make the laws.

  • Robert||

    Oh, the laws. 1st reading, I thought you'd written "news". works both ways.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Properly, this is the responsibility of the legislature to fix.

  • Jickerson||

    It's also the responsibilities of judges to toss out unconstitutional nonsense like these laws.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Where is that written down in law?

  • James Pollock||

    It's written down in Marbury v. Madison, which has been quoted from extensively, with approval, in rather a few cases since it came out.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    They're putting the screws to this kid, yet my friend sat on a jury where the judge gave the defendant only three years for assfucking a six year old boy, repeatedly. This was in Utah.

  • Zeb||

    It's just absurd that sexy pictures taken with consent of sexually mature teenagers are treated as the same thing as horrendous victimizations of young children. Even if this should be a crime, which it shouldn't, it's a totally different category from what most people think of when the hear "child pornography". When it comes to sexuality and related things, you can't just draw a clear line between child and adult without creating tremendous injustices like this.

  • JoeJoetheIdiotCircusBoy||

    True, but mandatory minimums (which I'm assuming are in play here) are specifically designed to remove all of that context and nuance from the actual case so that there is in fact a legal clear line.

  • Eman||

    Whatever the age of consent is, it's somewhat arbitrary, but we have to choose somewhere.
    Otherwise how would we know when someone is breaking the law?

  • Longtobefree||

    For half the kids, you could let nature tell you by the onset of menses.

  • Jickerson||

    Otherwise how would we know when someone is breaking the law?

    By gathering evidence to see if a rape occurred, and treating each person involved as an individual rather than a statistic? If we can't do that, then how do we ever find out if an adult raped another adult?

  • Ben of Houston||

    If the law is written properly, cases that fall into the age of consent are actually quite extreme. This is why we have Romeo and Juliet clauses and age of consent set at an age that are still quite concerning for most parents. If I found my sixteen year old in bed with someone in their mid-twenties, I'd be reaching for a shotgun. However, it is still legal.

    However, the federal law explicitly states that age of consent doesn't matter. The girl could have gotten charged with a similar crime for taking pictures of her herself, and that's just absurd.

  • James Pollock||

    "Whatever the age of consent is, it's somewhat arbitrary, but we have to choose somewhere.
    Otherwise how would we know when someone is breaking the law?"

    Prosecutors can charge rape when a person has sex, but does not have the capacity to consent... say, by reason of mental infirmity, or intoxication. This can be done if the person is over the age of consent, which applies to a different part of the criminal code, wherein the prosecutor can claim, by fiat, that a person is incapable of consenting to sex based solely on their age at the time. The prosecutor no longer has to prove that a person was incapable of consent... the law presumes, with no possibility of rebuttal, that a person cannot give consent, until they have reached the prescribed age. Except... different states have different ages, and some states offer "outs"... for example, by having a "Romeo and Juliet" exception, so that a 15-year-old girl categorically cannot consent to sex with this man, but CAN consent to sex with this 15-year-old boy, or allowing a lower age for marriage, and a marriage exception for statutory rape.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "It defies all reason that a man could go to prison for three decades for taking a sexy picture of a teenager who was deemed fully capable of consenting to sex. This is a travesty of justice, a violation of consenting adults' sexual freedoms, an abuse of mandatory minimum sentencing, a blow to states' rights, and an absurd waste of the FBI's time."

    You forgot 'business as usual for the inevitable government buttinskis'

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I think we need to see these pictures, to see if they are truly inappropriate.

  • Juice||

    So when someone says "age of consent" they only mean the age of consent for having sex. They can't consent to drinking alcohol or voting, etc. So consent to taking photographs is right out.

  • Shirley Knott||

    "But it's illegal!"

  • Ken Hagler||

    Of course it defies all reason, but what does reason have to do with Shariah laws? A law enforcing religious beliefs is inherently _anti_ reason.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, if that picture is the one (despite the Reason requirement that the picture be unrelated to the article), he should not get more than 5 minutes in prison - - - - - - -

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I'm guessing it's a stock photo.

  • RPGuy16||

    Pretty sure Reason isn't posting even newsworthy child porn on its web site, but you never know.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    FBI agents later interviewed Marrero's ex-girlfriend, who confirmed that she was 17 at the time the pictures were taken.

    As a woman she is ill-equipped to determine if she is a victim or not.

  • Eddy||

    There's no law against this sexy photo.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Sensuous vs. sensual. I recall a line from the Dean's wife in Animal House.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Racist.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    It's almost like a law that wasn't under the purview of Congress from an enumerated powers standpoint should be "reserved to the states." There wouldn't necessarily be these inconsistencies in laws with minors/consent if the same entity could define with consistency in mind.

    But what do I know. It's not like there's an amendment covering this...

  • Killer Hawk||

    Get rid of all pedophiles and homosexuals.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Kill em' all.

  • Citizen X||

    Yes, that is a measured and reasonable contribution.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Let's compromise, and just get rid of Tony.

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    And all his goddamn sock puppet accounts...

  • Rossami||

    Why has no one yet challenged that law on jurisdictional grounds? The Constitution grants general police powers to states but explicitly withholds that power from the federal government. Precisely which enumerated power covers the federal criminalization of this purely intrastate alleged crime?

  • Longtobefree||

    Commerce clause

  • RPGuy16||

    If Trump appoints the right judge we could see some progress on this.

  • RPGuy16||

    Remember it was Kennedy, Scalia, and the libs who voted Gonzales v. Raich.

  • freedomwriter||

    SCOTUS has bastardized the commerce clause beyond belief, by allowing all sorts of activity to be punished criminally that has NOTHING to do with interstate commerce.

    SCOTUS gives government carte blanche to do what they want, as long as they say the intent is "protection" of the public..

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Maybe someone ought to look into witness intimidation charges for the feds who arrested him as he left the witness stand. Obstruction of justice, tampering, the sky's the limit for a good prosecutor.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    It's as though sense has departed any and every one who prosecutes and adjudicates these type of charges. It has become a malum prohibitum I've got you scenario.

  • Cloudbuster||

    One wonders if there's any chance for jury nullification in this case. If I was sitting on the jury I couldn't in good conscience convict the guy.

  • RPGuy16||

    This guy is not going to go to the end of a jury trial facing 15-30 years. Prosecutors overcharge to pressure poor sap defendants to take a plea and pad the prosecutor's conviction stats, which is what will in all likelihood happen in this case.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Sad face.

  • Ben of Houston||

    The guy's only real hope is the sheer lunacity of the charge. This is one of the rare cases where leaning on jury nullification is probably his best hope.

    Child porn carries such a high minimum penalty that there's no real way to deal a lesser one.

  • TJM||

    Sounds like a great case for jury nullification.

  • J Neil Schulman||

    The photo should go viral to make the goddam Feds file charges against millions of viewing individuals.

  • Eddy||

    FEDS: "Hold our beer and watch us selective prosecute the heck out of this!"

  • IceTrey||

    I'm having a serious deja vu. Has this been posted before?

  • Empress Trudy||

    So when the dozens of phone apps which we KNOW surreptitiously turn on your phone to record what you're doing without your consent or notification record you naked, are THEY guilty of kiddie porn?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Kids shouldn't have cel phones.

  • LKRinAK||

    Define "kid" - in cases such as this we are talking about people who may well have driver's licenses.

  • tommhan||

    What kind of idiot would pursue these charges? Absolutely insane.

  • ||

    I suppose it makes sence...i mean it is only totally retarded. Just another day for the burocrats.

  • Flinch||

    Dumb. But this case shouldn't exist but for distributing the photos across state lines. The fool photographer needs a new lawyer for sure - how the hell was he let on the stand knowing this would happen? Personal photos ahouldn't become pornography until they are distributed if we have any sense. From a personal standpoint... why take pictures when a real relationship exists? Parents... teach your kids to not take photos: sex is personal, and not really anybody elses business. Turn your freakin phone off when you are turned on.

  • Praveen R.||

    So how does the director of American Beauty get away with filming Thora Birch topless or nude or anyone who might share such a picture on the internet?

  • Frank Thorn||

    "...in Birch's case, despite the fact she was underage for her nude scene. As Birch was 16 at the time she made the film, and thus classified as a minor in the United States, her parents had to approve her brief topless scene in the movie..."

    www.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Beauty_(1999_film)

  • Cloudbuster||

    So child porn is OK if Mom and Dad approve? Obviously not. Not all child nudity is child porn. That should include photos taken between boyfriend and girlfriend for personal use.

  • Ben of Houston||

    If the purpose is not for titillation, it's considered art and not pornography. However, I would not want to be the person paying that director's legal bill.

  • Cloudbuster||

    The sexualization of Thora Birch and Mena Suvari in that film was totally for titillation purposes.

  • Cloudbuster||

    (Although Suvari was 20 when the film was made, so never mind about her).

  • macsnafu||

    How can we have "rule of law" when the laws are as absurd as this?

  • kevrob||

    There's no alt.text for the picture? How about.

    The models are 18. We checked. Honest.
  • Miter Broller||

    Nullification!

  • Lawman45||

    The U.S. Attorney, a politician, will win point with the far left Woman's groups for whom all men are evil.
    And his/her stats will look great. Supposedly Prosecutors have a duty to do JUSTICE but there is little of it when the conviction is a slam dunk as this one was. Prosecutors DO cut notches on their guns and love to bragg about how many.

  • Fred Z||

    This is an interesting article, but it's still bad journalism.

    This mess didn't just happen. People made the mess. Cops and prosecutors. Who were they? How could such fundamental facts be left out? We need to know who these law enforcement lunatics were so we can act on the knowledge. Nothing evil, nothing violent, perhaps a simple letter to somebody's superior.

    This looks a gross excess of prosecutorial discretion. Is the prosecutor elected? Really, people need to know.

  • doinkdoink||

    Holy mackerel, you couldn't take a few minutes on google to look up background on edward and his roommate?
    Marrero looks like utter trash.
    And his roommate/friend was already guilty of
    2907.05(A)1 - Gross Sexual Imposition Sexual Motivation
    and was a running a pron site called pIaypen.
    We are our friends, so clearly both pervs.
    They both could be thrown to bottom of a pit and I would sleep well.
    Marrero didn't just take "suggestive" pics he took "explicit" photos.
    "federal law prohibits creating, sharing and possessing sexually-explicit images of anyone under age 18"
    He and his friend are both stupid and evil.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Please let us know how the SCOTUS possibilities might view this sort of abusive case...

  • Duelles||

    Oh my! May Professor Dershowitz help me should my past ever be disclosed! I appeal already.

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