Is It Porn If It’s You?

In the great state of North Carolina, two teenagers were almost prosecuted on felony charges of having nude photos on their mobile phones…

of themselves.

jstew

According to The Guardian, Fayetteville’s Cormega Copening was prosecuted as an adult under child pornography laws. He was sexually exploiting a minor. And he was the minor.

Since Copening and his girlfriend, Brianna Denson, were 16 at the time they took their respective photos, they had to strike plea deals with the court to keep from going to jail and becoming registered sex offenders. While the case was being resolved, Copening was suspended from his school’s football team. After investigation, he and Denson were charged with counts of making and possessing naked pictures of themselves.

How were the pictures even discovered?

Reportedly, Copening’s pictures were discovered when authorities were investigating a “problem of sexual images allegedly being shared at school without the permission of the subjects involved.” Was Copening involved with this case?

Nope.

BUT WAIT. There’s more.

While the photographs between Copening and Denson were technically illegal, it was actually legal for the couple to have sex. The North Carolina age of consent is 16.

jstew3

Experts dismissed the case as ludicrous. (Duh). Now, I don’t know who the “experts” are in cases like these, but I agree with them. “It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,” said Justin Patchin, a criminal justice professor at the University of Wisconsin and co-founder of cyberbullying.org. Patchin also reports there being a total of “zero examples” of minors being charged for having their own nude photos.

In 1983, SCOTUS ruled child pornography unconstitutional. This made perfect sense because there is a need to protect minors from creepy adults producing and/or possessing naked images of them. But um… we didn’t have sexting in 1983. In 20 states, we have what are called “Romeo and Juliet” laws that essentially keep teenaged couples from being prosecuted for exchanging photos with each other (but only each other). But Fayetteville is not in one of those states.

So…what was the plea deal?

Copening and Denson were ordered to pay court costs ($200), take a “diversion” class in making good decisions, and do 30 hours of community service. They also will not be allowed to own a mobile phone for a year.

jstew4

Whatever. On the bright side, no one is going to jail, no one is a registered sex offender, and no one was made a gross example of. This would have been an enormous overreach. Sometimes I almost pity the authorities in these situations, because I feel like part of the reason things get out of hand is because they have no idea how to handle situations with which they can’t identify. If you’re 45 years old, your teenage years did not consist of sexually explicit text messages. It’s all very new to you. So when you have to deal with this type of case, you’re slightly unprepared.

I know that I still have questions. I just am not certain how to articulate them right now.

Cases such as these really serve to emphasize how rapidly the world has changed. Copening and Denson were two teens who were caught doing what thirty percent of today’s teens do (Temple, Jeff – psychology expert @ University of Texas). Classic, if you ask me. The high school quarterback was caught doing something bad, so the adults tried to make an example out of him. I’m aware that it’s most likely not that simple. Nothing posted here will ever be that simple. Unfortunately, it probably would take felony charges to get young people to make wiser decisions about distributing revealing texts or photos of themselves.

At least the couple didn’t have a nasty break-up resulting in one of them sending out the pictures of the other to everybody they know. While that would be more deserving of charges, and no doubt a better freaking story, it’s good that it didn’t happen.

These star-crossed lovers will have plenty of time to reflect whilst servicing their community and having no mobile phone.

I would advise everyone to ultimately not be too reckless with what they believe to be their own “private” property. Especially minors. You could end up having to deal with overreacting authorities and Jon Stewart-obsessed bloggers. And the whole world will know that your parents decided to name you Cormega.

Is it porn if it’s you?

Apparently so, but

we’re all human.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s