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Teenage Girl: Sex Offender?

 
 
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 01:40 pm
Law didn't anticipate cell phone photo case

Quote:
NEWARK -- A 15-year-old girl is accused of distributing nude photos of herself to other minors, and one state legislator is questioning whether she should be labeled a sex offender.

The Licking Valley High School student was arrested Friday after school officials discovered the materials and brought in the school's resource officer for a police investigation.

After spending the weekend incarcerated, she pleaded deny Monday to both charges: illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony; and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony....


Should this 15-year-old girl, who distributed nude photos of herself to other teens via a cell phone, be criminally punished for a sex offense and be required to register as a sex offender?

Does anyone know the basis of the "possession of criminal tools" charge? Is a cell phone a "criminal tool?"





 
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Phoenix32890
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 01:53 pm
@Debra Law,
I don't know much about the law, but I certainly don't think that a 15 year old kid who sent out nude pictures on a cell phone should be labeled a sex offender.

This girl obviously has emotional problems, which need to be dealt with. I would agree that the girl should be prohibited from using a cell phone to send pictures.

There are many young people who have serious emotional problems. In this case, she did not harm anyone but herself. IMO she should be sentenced to therapy so that she can determine why she chose to do what she did.

I think that labeling her a sex offender would do nothing but ensure that it will be much more difficult for her to straighten out and get her life together.
Merry Andrew
 
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Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:03 pm
What Phoenix said. To label this sort of narcisstic behavior as a "sexual offense" is patently absurd on the face of it. And to describe a cell-phone camera as a crime tool leaves one with one's jaw dropping several inches toward the thorax.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:14 pm
@Phoenix32890,
What Phoenix said.
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:28 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix32890 wrote:

I don't know much about the law, but I certainly don't think that a 15 year old kid who sent out nude pictures on a cell phone should be labeled a sex offender....


I agree. Perhaps a prosecutor may pigeon hole this girl's conduct into the four-corners of a sex offense statute, but the purpose of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate rather than punish. Perhaps a more general "disorderly conduct" misdemeanor charge would serve the purpose of rehabilitation rather than placing a label on her that may have adverse consequences for the remainder of her life.

The prosecutor thereafter used the felony sex offense charges placed against this girl as a "tool" to gain entry into high schools and to lecture the students about the adverse consequences of using their electronic devices to send unacceptable materials to others. The girl exploited herself (perhaps as a cry for help)--and now she's being exploited by the system.
Merry Andrew
 
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Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:36 pm
@Debra Law,
I think you hit the nail on the head, Deb. The prosecutor, in all likelihood, brought the more serious charge of "sex offense" in order to gain access to the school on a semi-official basis. If this is the case, the prosecution would proably accept a plea bargain and be willing to accept a guilty plea on a disorderly conduct charge. For myself, I'm not at all sure that even this is justified. It should be taken out of the courts entirely and turned over to social service agencies.
cicerone imposter
 
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Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:37 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Yes, that belongs to the social services department, not the legal one.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:42 pm
I bet that had this been a teenage boy, we wouldn't be asking this question (i.e. he would be in big trouble).

I don't know how this should be handled... but I do know that males and females should be treated the same.

OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 02:55 pm
@Debra Law,
Debra Law wrote:
Does anyone know the basis of the "possession of criminal tools" charge? Is a cell phone a "criminal tool?"
I would think that would be a pretty obvious YES. Just as screwdrivers, hammers, and crowbars become criminal tools when used to Break and Enter.

I like the idea of the big scary charges to deter and possibly reduce the prevalence of the behavior... AND agree it should, and most likely will, be plead out as some form of misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct or some such thing with a treatment stipulation.

The bigger charges do belong, in the event of the perp victimizing someone other than herself... and I think the prosecutor is doing well not to trivialize this event for that reason.
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:20 pm
@Debra Law,
Quote:
Quote:
NEWARK -- A 15-year-old girl is accused of distributing nude photos of herself to other minors

Kids. What will they think of next.
cicerone imposter
 
  3  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:30 pm
@rosborne979,
I think those in Japan and Europe wonder why we're making such a big deal out of it.
Debra Law
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:42 pm
Cell phone case shows challenges of law

Quote:
The long arm of the law has overreached in the case of a Licking Valley student who is accused of taking nude photographs of herself and sending them to the cell phones of other juveniles. If true, the act was a mistake, but the potential punishment exceeds not only the purpose of the law but reason as well.

The teen pleaded deny -- the juvenile equivalent of not guilty -- to one count each of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material and possession of criminal tools. If convicted, she could be labeled a Tier II sex offender and required to register her whereabouts for 20 years.

Proportion is the key idea here and what she could face far exceeds what allegedly was done....


0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
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Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:45 pm
@OCCOM BILL,
reduce the prevalence of the behavior

You can't reduce sex out of teens, dude.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:50 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
I think those in Japan and Europe wonder why we're making such a big deal out of it.

It's definitely a cultural thing. In "olden" days people used to start families when they were 13 years old. We have established a very arbitrary definition of adulthood and on acceptable clothedness.

It must be very tempting for a teenager to make money by selling pictures of themselves. What if she sold pictures of herself dressed as a model in high fashion clothes, or what if she was in a bikini. We might object in those cases purely to the fact that a minor was producing income without paying taxes or funneling it through their parents.

0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:55 pm
The prosecutor issued a public statement stating his purpose in charging the girl with a sex offense is to teach this girl and others a lesson because she allegedly failed to heed his warning:

Licking County Prosecutor Addresses Cell Phone Charges

Quote:
Thursday, October 9, 2008 8:39 AM
Kenneth W. Oswalt, Licking County Prosecutor

Recently, my office filed two charges in the Juvenile Court of Licking County against a 15 year-old girl accusing her of taking nudity-oriented photographs of herself and sending them to others. Those charges are: Illegal Use of a Minor in Nudity Oriented Material for the taking, possessing and/or sending of the photograph; and, Possession of Criminal Tools for using the phone to commit a felony. It should be kept in mind that the charges at this time remain “allegations”. That is to say, she will have an opportunity to defend against them should she chose to do so. However, certain observations may be in order as to the decision to charge her.

As with every charging decision, the decision to charge this young girl was made after considering several factors. As a starting point, the taking of photographs of this nature, and the sending of them, constitute criminal offenses under Ohio law. However, other factors played into the decision to charge this girl.

In the early months of this year, my office received some twenty or more reports of similar behavior on the part of juveniles that had been discovered by school officials or law enforcement. When those cases were presented to this office I could have chosen to charge those juveniles with similar criminal offenses. I did not. Instead, I chose to try to educate young people on the legalities of this behavior, as well as the other risks associated with this conduct. To my knowledge, I am the only prosecutor anywhere who decided to try this avenue as a first line of defense against the continuation of this type of behavior.

As a result, since April of this year I have undertaken to speak at schools around Licking County ranging from middle schools to high schools in an effort to stop this practice. At each presentation I was careful to make it quite clear that I did not wish to have to charge young people with criminal offenses for this behavior, but that if they were nonetheless found to be engaging in this behavior after my presentation at their schools, they would be charged as it was necessary to convey to these young people the urgency of the message I was trying to relay to them. Thus all people in attendance at these presentations got fair warning of the risks they ran by continuing to do these things.


In addition, for those juveniles who had already been involved in this type of behavior prior to my presentation at their school, specific instructions were given as to what to do in order to assure that any previously taken pictures could be collected by law enforcement and successfully destroyed. This included specific warnings that failure to follow these steps could result in people getting charged for pictures previously taken as the simple possession of these types of photographs is often illegal.

As a result, a thorough presentation of the risks associated this type of behavior was given at each of these schools. As this case is the first case involving this type of behavior that has been presented to my office since I began that series of school presentations, it appears that most juveniles around Licking County who otherwise may have been inclined to engage in this type of behavior have, fortunately, gotten the message that I attempted to convey. If these allegations are ultimately proven to be true, it is clear that for some reasons this young lady did not get that message. It was not for a lack of trying, however.

According to school officials where this girl was enrolled, this girl actually attended my presentation at their school. Thus, she was one of the hundreds in attendance that were given actual notice of the consequences of her behavior " which, as noted, included the fact that she would find herself going to juvenile court on charges of this nature if she were found to have participated in further behavior of this type.

Even more striking is that school officials have reported to me that after my presentation at her school they specifically confronted this girl regarding concerns they had and they specifically warned her to take heed of the message she had heard from my presentation. Thus, this girl got a personal face-to-face warning, of the consequences of this behavior.

Notwithstanding all of this, a few days later this girl is alleged to have nonetheless sent naked pictures of herself to others. While the investigation into the conduct of those who received the picture continues and thus it is unclear at this time whether they will be charged, it is clear that this girl has no excuse for not knowing that taking, sending, and/or possessing these types of pictures is not just inappropriate, but it is also illegal, and that upon doing so she faced the prospect of being prosecuted.


Ultimately, what happens to this girl will depend first upon whether she is found by the Court to have committed these offenses. Assuming that occurs what type of disposition is likely to occur may largely depend upon what her attitude turns out to be throughout these proceedings. Yes, as has been reported in the media, it is true that a judge can make her register as a sex offender for 20 years upon her being adjudicated as a delinquent child for these offenses. This may seem rather harsh. However, the prospect of this occurring was specifically covered in the presentation that the girl attended. Simply put, she knew this could occur. With that said, however, the charges against this girl were fashioned so as to give the judge discretion on this issue. That is to say that the judge may elect not to require 20 years of registration, depending, I suspect in part, on the judge’s view of this girl’s likelihood of re-offending. I can hazard no opinion on whether a judge will ultimately decide to require 20 years of registration.

If it is proven at trial that this girl committed these offense, it will be unfortunate indeed that this girl did not take heed of all the warnings given to her …. warnings, incidentally, the law did not require her to be given. Hopefully others will learn a lesson from her situation.

Kenneth W. Oswalt
Licking County Prosecutor
October 8, 2008


This girl needs an "attitude" adjustment? But, as Phoenix noted, maybe her "attitude" is the result of an emotional problem and she needs help--not punishment.


OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:16 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:
reduce the prevalence of the behavior

You can't reduce sex out of teens, dude.
Sure you can. What you can't do is eliminate it. Education affects people of all ages.

However, that was neither my point nor my concern. The trafficking of underage nudies is... and that is a legitimate concern. I've seen awareness campaigns to help kids realize that any picture they post on the internet will be there forevermore, even if they change their minds at a later date. This awareness campaign should be expanded to include all forms of digital media and there is every reason to believe it would have some affect.

Say, for instance, Agrote or Hawkeye got a hold of one or more such pictures and was sending them to his friends with his phone. Would anyone not want it to be treated as a crime then? Would a 15 year old’s consent matter to anyone?
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:24 pm
@Debra Law,
Debra Law wrote:
This girl needs an "attitude" adjustment? But, as Phoenix noted, maybe her "attitude" is the result of an emotional problem and she needs help--not punishment.
And maybe that's exactly what she'll get as a condition of probation attached to a guilty plea on a lesser charge. Whatever emotional issues the girl may have need not be mutually exclusive from law enforcement. This prosecutor is doing an excellent job and deserves to be recognized for it.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:25 pm
@Debra Law,
Well, I thought that was a very well-written piece by the County Prosecutor and it doesn't sound to me that the charges were thoughtlessly or uncaringly made or unduly harsh. His point was that this is a serious problem there and he spent quite a bit of time and effort warning the students of consequences of this type of behaviour. In addition, she was sought out and warned personally.

Regardless of the reasons for her behaving this way (and I don't believe we can automatically assume she has emotional issues - she may just be a precocious tramp), she was warned and now has to accept the consequences.

And if she does have emotional issues, she should still be charged, but also could receive counselling. Emotional problems should not be a reason to let anyone off the hook. Everyone has some.

It may be the making of her, who knows?

JMO.
Debra Law
 
  2  
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:48 pm
@Mame,
To me, it sounded much more like the prosecutor was PUBLICIZING this CONFIDENTIAL juvenile court matter, in violation of the rules of professional conduct, as his cause celeb--after all, he is running for re-election--and this defiant girl who is currently living in foster care--who needs an "attitude" adjustment--was ripe for the picking....

http://www.oswaltforprosecutor.com/

The more I dig and read, the more troubling this becomes.
 

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