A high schooler from North Carolina and his girlfriend are expecting prosecution both as minor victims and adult culprits for keeping nude selfies.
Now keeping nude pictures on your mobile phone can account for legal proceedings even if you are a minor. Reportedly, a 17-year old boy Cormega Copening and his girlfriend Brianna Denson have been prosecuted for keeping their own nude pictures on their mobile phones.
When the pictures were discovered, the boy was aged 16 but he has now turned 17. The teenager has filed a plea deal to prevent sentencing and being registered as a sex criminal. The case has been condemned by experts and dubbed as ludicrous, but the boy was punished nevertheless.
Along with other penalties, the Fayetteville, North Carolina resident suffered suspension from his high school football team and had to agree to allow warrantless searches by the law enforcement for one year.
Justin Patchin, the Criminal justice professor at the University of Wisconsin and co-founder of cyberbullying.org a research website, stated that “It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image.”
Basically, the teenagers were charged for “sexting”, which means sending or sharing sexually explicit material via text messages. The point to be noted here is that the primary charges against them were related to creation and storage of personal nude images.
Copening has been charged with four counts of capturing and possessing his images and one count of keeping the naked image of his 16-year old girlfriend, Brianna Denson. The high schooler was prosecuted for sexually exploiting a minor as an adult under federal child pornography felony laws. He also was charged as a minor.
Denson also struck a plea deal after being accused of similar charges. In North Carolina, the legal age for consensual sexual intercourse is 16, which means that only the nude pictures will be termed as illegal and not the actual sexual act.
Law enforcement discovered the nude images on Copening’s mobile while investigating a bigger issue of sharing of sexual images at school without the permission of those involved. The involvement of Copening in the case was, however, not proven and he was only charged with possessing illicit images of himself and his girlfriend.
This is probably the first of its kind case in which under-18 high schoolers have been charged as adults for sexting.
Patchin concluded that “Kids should not be charged for that and you don’t want kids to be sending such pictures to their significant others, but I don’t think it should be a criminal offense where there is no victim.”