...the efforts of officials in Northern Virginia to forcibly induce an erection in a teenage boy in order to pursue “sexting” charges against him has deservedly provoked national outrage. ... Manassas police have since backed down and now say that they won’t execute the warrant. Of course, there remains the problem of why the warrant was issued in the first place. No one in the Manassas Police Department, the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert or the judge who signed off on the warrant was able to see what the rest of the country saw, here: an outrageous abuse of power and an unfathomable violation of this kid’s privacy. The Commonwealth of Virginia was prepared to create child porn in order to prosecute a 17-year-old kid for sending videos of himself to his then-girlfriend, who was 15 years old.Seems clear: an outrageous abuse of power and an unfathomable violation of this kid's privacy.
Also clear: in the prosecution of a child pornography case, they were going to produce child pornography.
As usual, it is a good idea to read all of Balko's piece. He talks about several other crazy cases in which teens landed in huge trouble for playing doctor while texting.
The trend is toward dragging more minors into the justice system.
In an effort to register their contempt for child exploitation and sex crimes, lawmakers have defined sex offenses so broadly that a teen sending an explicit photo to a boyfriend or girlfriend can qualify. Typically, when critics point out that a new law could be used in ways lawmakers never intended, supporters point to prosecutorial discretion. They argue that it’s ridiculous, even insulting, to suggest that a prosecutor would twist a law to bring charges against someone in ways the law clearly never intended — or that a judge would allow it. That police, a prosecutor’s office and a judge all saw nothing wrong with forcibly inducing an erection in order to pursue charges against a 17-year-old kid puts the lie to that argument.
Sex isn’t the only context in which we’re ruining kids under the pretense of saving them. We’re protecting kids from drugs by arresting and jailing them for marijuana possession. We’re protecting them from the (mostly nonexistent) problem of school violence by assigning law enforcement to patrol middle and high school campuses. The presence of law enforcement means that kids who were once reprimanded, assigned detention or possibly suspended for infractions such as fighting, throwing food or truancy are now fed into the criminal justice system.I have written about how casually cruelty is directed at the children of sex offenders, here, here, and here. As demonstrated in the cases Balko discusses and in a 2010 prosecution of sexting minors, the cruelty can be even more astounding when minors are the offenders.
More on the Virginia case from Robby Soave at Reason, from Shelly Stowe at Justice For All, and from Lenore Skenazy at Free Range Kids here and here.