Robby Soave writes in Reason about a North Carolina high school couple who sexted each other and the photos were discovered. They were both facing multiple felony charges but she plead to a lesser charge and was given a year of probation.
He, on the other hand,
...is still facing two counts of second-degree sexual exploitation and three counts of third-degree exploitation. As Ricochet’s Tom Meyer points out, the third-degree charges—which constitute a majority of the total charges—actually stem from the pictures [the young man] had of himself.In North Carolina, third degree sexual exploitation of a minor means a visual representation of a minor engaging in sexual activity.
He took a picture of himself and had it on his phone. That is what the third degree charges are about.
But consider this: North Carolina is one of two states in the country (the other is progressive New York) that considers 16 to be the age of adulthood for criminal purposes. This mean, of course, that [the young man] can be tried as an adult for exploiting a minor—himself.Tom Meyer, in Ricochet, sums it up.
A few details make the case particularly noteworthy and offensive:Old enough to have sex; too young to be photographed naked.
- There is no indication that the photographs were disseminated beyond the couple until the male student’s phone was seized as part of a separate investigation involving misdemeanor property damage.
- The two were charged with “exploitation of a minor,” despite each being a minor at the time they made the photographs. More bizarrely yet, most of the charges against the teens were for having pictures of themselves on their own phones; i.e., each was charged for photographing and/or storing images of his or her own nether regions.
- The laws they are accused of violating are not merely identical to those pertaining to genuine child pornographers, but are in, in fact, the very same laws that make child pornography illegal.
Young enough to be called a child when it serves the prosecution; old enough to be charged as an adult.
The kids aren't the ones who are exploiting minors. The courts are.