Crime and Punishment

Cops Want to Photograph a Boy’s Penis to Charge Him With Child Pornography

All because the 17-year-old sexted his 15-year-old girlfriend.
Be careful who you sext, unfortunately. (Photo: Getty)

Be careful who you sext, unfortunately. (Photo: Getty)

Authorities in Virginia are planning to take a bizarre — and utterly despicable — route to convict a teen on child pornography charges: forcing him to get a boner and taking photos of his erect penis.

A 17-year-old Manassas City teen was charged with two child pornography-related felonies after his 15-year-old girlfriend’s mother reported him for sexting, the Washington Post reports. Now, the teen, whose name was withheld by the Post, is facing a search warrant that would allow law enforcement officials to take him to a hospital, give him an erection-inducing needle, and photograph his penis.

Then they’d “use special software to compare pictures of this penis to this penis,” the teen’s defense lawyer, Jessica Harbeson Foster, told the Post, adding that the plans were “just crazy.”

The sexting case has been rife with apparent injustices from the start.

The case went to trial and was dismissed last month, but following the dismissal, police somehow obtained new charges and a search warrant for the teen’s home. They also arrested the teen and took him to juvenile jail, where Ms. Foster says they took photographs of his penis. Just in case you thought you read that wrong, you didn’t: police have already photographed the teen’s genitals against his will and are still looking to do it again.

When the case returned to trial on July 1, the teen was reportedly told he either had to plead guilty, or let authorities take pictures of his medically-induced erection. The teen refused to plead guilty. When he next appeared in court, Ms. Foster won him permission to leave town without the warrant being served. He’ll have to return to court, however, on July 15.

We know it’s illegal for people to create and possess pornographic photos of minors. But the law should be used to punish adults harboring pornographic photos of children, not flirty teens harmlessly experimenting with their sexuality. Law enforcement isn’t doing anything to protect society by charging a minor with two felonies for trading naked pics and videos with his girlfriend.

Carlos Flores Laboy, who’s acting as the teen’s legal guardian, reportedly thinks the police should be the ones slapped with child pornography charges.

“They’re using a statute that was designed to protect children from being exploited in a sexual manner to take a picture of this young man in a sexually explicit manner,” he told the Post. “The irony is incredible.”

Update: The Manassas City police have released a statement regarding the sexting case, the Washington Post reports. The statement was released on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in response to the Post‘s original story about the case, which was published Wednesday morning.

The statement offers more information surrounding the circumstances of the teen’s original charges, thought the wording is somewhat vague when it comes to the terms of the police’s new search warrant:

“Juvenile Sexting Case

“On January 23, 2014 Manassas City Police was contacted by a parent of a 15 YOA female juvenile who was sent pornographic videos by a 17 YOA male suspect after repeatedly being told to stop.  Upon further investigating the incident charges of manufacturing and distributing child pornography were brought against the 17 YOA male suspect on January 28, 2014 after consultation with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.  The matter was set for trial on June 4th 2014 where charges were nolle prosqui by a Prince William County Assistant Commonwealth Attorney.

“The circumstances on the decision to dismiss charges and bring forward new charges cannot be released at this time due to this incident being an active investigation and involving juveniles.  New charges of manufacturing and distributing child pornography have been brought forward and a court date is pending.

“It is not the policy of the Manassas City Police or the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature and no such procedures have been conducted in this case.  Beyond that, neither the Police Department nor the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office discusses evidentiary matters prior to court hearings.”

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