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Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

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Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Old 04-08-09, 10:17 AM
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Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

(CNN) -- When Vanessa Hudgens' naked photos hit the Internet, the "High School Musical" star quickly apologized. But sending nude or seminude pictures, a phenomenon known as sexting, is a fast-growing trend among teens.

Phillip Alpert found out the hard way. He had just turned 18 when he sent a naked photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend, a photo she had taken and sent him, to dozens of her friends and family after an argument. The high school sweethearts had been dating for almost 2 years. "It was a stupid thing I did because I was upset and tired and it was the middle of the night and I was an immature kid," says Alpert.

Orlando, USA, police didn't see it that way. Alpert was arrested and charged with sending child pornography, a felony to which he pleaded no contest but was later convicted. He was sentenced to five years probation and required by Florida law to register as a sex offender.


"You will find me on the registered sex offender list next to people who have raped children, molested kids, things like that, because I sent child pornography," says Alpert in disbelief, explaining, "You think child pornography, you think 6-year-old, 3-year-old little kids who can't think for themselves, who are taken advantage of. That really wasn't the case."

Alpert's attorney Larry Walters agrees and he's fighting to get Alpert removed from USA's sex offender registry. The law lags behind the technology, he says. "Sexting is treated as child pornography in almost every state and it catches teens completely offguard because this is a fairly natural and normal thing for them to do. It is surprising to us as parents, but for teens it's part of their culture."

In many states, like those in the southern United States, if a person is convicted of a crime against children, it automatically triggers registration to the sex offender registry. Thirty-eight states include juvenile sex offenders in their sex offender registries. Alaska, Florida and Maine will register juveniles only if they are tried as adults. Indiana registers juveniles age 14 and older. South Dakota registers juveniles age 15 and older. Most states allow public access to sex offender registries via the Internet and anyone with a computer can locate registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods.

A number of states have elected not to provide Internet access to registries; Florida is not one of them. There is no hiding for Alpert, whose neighbors, he says, all know. "I am a sex offender. If you type my name into the search engine online, you will find me."

As sexting incidents pop up around the country, prosecutors are trying to come to terms with how these cases should be handled. George Skumanick Jr., a district attorney from Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, took a novel approach when 20 students from Tunkhannock High School were caught allegedly sexting.

He gave them a choice: probation and re-education classes or be charged with sexual abuse of a minor. "An adult would go to prison for this," says Skumanick, adding, "If you take the photo, you've committed a crime. If you send the photo, you've committed a different crime, but essentially the same crime."

Critics, however, say child pornography laws on the possession or dissemination of graphic images were never meant to apply to teen sexting and that these teenagers usually have no criminal intent when they send pictures to each other.

Fifteen-year-old Marissa Miller of northeastern Pennsylvania was 12 when she and a friend snapped themselves wearing training bras. "I wasn't trying to be sexual," she says, "I was having fun with my friends at a sleepover, taking pictures, dancing to music." The picture recently surfaced on a student's cell phone and Marissa's mom, MaryJo Miller, was contacted by Skumanick. "He told me that he had a full nude photo of my daughter," says MaryJo Miller, who calls the picture innocent.

Rather than force her daughter to take the classes, which would have required she write a report explaining why what she did was wrong, Miller and two other families *-- with the help of the ACLU -- are suing the district attorney to stop him from filing charges. "We believe she was the victim and that she did nothing wrong," says Miller. "How can I ask her to compromise her values and write this essay, when she didn't do anything?"

Although the district attorney maintains the program is voluntary, the letter he sent to parents notes, "Charges will be filed against those who do not participate." Seventeen of the 20 students caught in the sexting incidents have completed the 14 hours of classes.

Skumanick won't comment on the Miller case, but says, "You can't call committing a crime fun or a prank. If you do that, you can rob a bank because you think it's fun." In the majority of sexting cases, it's usually girls sending pictures to boys, who then send them to their friends. Though teens may think it's funny and a way to flirt or even seek revenge after a breakup, there can be dangerous consequences.

Last year, Jessica Logan, a Cincinnati, Ohio, teen, hanged herself after her nude photo, meant for her boyfriend, was sent to teenagers at several high schools. For months after, her father says, she was the subject of ridicule and taunts. "Everyone knew about that photo," Bert Logan says. "She could not live it down." On July 3, his wife found her. "She had been getting dressed to go out. The curling iron was still warm. It was so unexpected," Logan says. "I heard my wife scream, I ran up to Jessie's room, but it was too late."

No charges had been filed against Jessica's 19-year-old boyfriend, who disseminated the photo, nor had the school taken any action, Logan says. He says he and his wife want to warn parents and students of the dangers of sexting. The Logans are fighting to raise awareness nationally and to advocate for laws that address sexting and cyber-bullying.
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As for Alpert, life is not easy as a registered sex offender, a label he will carry until the age of 43. He's been kicked out of college, he cannot travel out of the county without making prior arrangements with his probation officer, he has lost many friends and is having trouble finding a job because of his status as a convicted felon. He says he feels terrible about sending the photo of his ex-girlfriend, especially since they were once so close.

At the same time, Alpert says, "I'm being punished for the rest of my life for something that took two minutes or less to do." Says attorney Walters, "Some judges have the good sense and reasonableness to treat this as a social problem and others are more zealous in their efforts to put everybody away and I think it's time as a society that we step back a little bit and avoid this temptation to lock up our children."
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Old 04-08-09, 10:36 AM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Great, get him out of college and put him on welfare to protect us from these terrible people. Society is safer that way.

I really hope they figure out some common sense to this stuff soon.
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Old 04-08-09, 10:37 AM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

The guy's trying to paint himself as a victim of an unjust law like the other kids who've been prosecuted in these cases, but it doesn't fly here. For one thing, he's not a kid. He's a grown man who distributed nude pictures of an underage girl. Yeah, that is a crime, and even if child porn laws were enforced reasonably he'd still be prosecuted.

And sending the pics to her family ... what a douche.
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Old 04-08-09, 11:03 AM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
The guy's trying to paint himself as a victim of an unjust law like the other kids who've been prosecuted in these cases, but it doesn't fly here. For one thing, he's not a kid. He's a grown man who distributed nude pictures of an underage girl. Yeah, that is a crime, and even if child porn laws were enforced reasonably he'd still be prosecuted.

And sending the pics to her family ... what a douche.
He is certainly not a victim, but he also isn't a sexual predator. The punishment should fit the crime. Mostly he just needs his ass kicked.
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Old 04-08-09, 11:30 AM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
The guy's trying to paint himself as a victim of an unjust law like the other kids who've been prosecuted in these cases, but it doesn't fly here. For one thing, he's not a kid. He's a grown man who distributed nude pictures of an underage girl. Yeah, that is a crime, and even if child porn laws were enforced reasonably he'd still be prosecuted.

And sending the pics to her family ... what a douche.
He's a douche, but it is silly to think that he was a kid a month ago, but now he's a man equal to a 40 year old sending nude pictures of a 16 year old. It's the same 16 year old that he has dated for 2.5 years. He is the victim of a stupid law. He is a douche.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:01 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by cpgator View Post
He is certainly not a victim, but he also isn't a sexual predator. The punishment should fit the crime. Mostly he just needs his ass kicked.
20 years ago when we gave judges more discretion, we would get stories about people raping and killing kids while out on parole and everyone thought those judges were idiots


Megan's Law was passed because someone who was out on parole who had hurt a child killed another one
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Old 04-08-09, 12:07 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

You have to be really careful with these cell phone cameras. Technology makes our lives easier, but it also makes it easier to get in trouble.

Yes it's ridiculous that an 18 year old should be convicted of child porn for this, but he was pretty stupid to send that stuff around.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:09 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

at some point the law has to have a cut off where you are considered a full adult and need to be careful with anyone who is not an adult yet. otherwise anyone who is arrested will argue they are a special case and shouldn't go to jail
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Old 04-08-09, 12:14 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
And sending the pics to her family ... what a douche.
QFT. What a piece of shit. "I was tired." Wow. That's like the ultimate douche move.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:14 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I really hope they figure out some common sense to this stuff soon.
As opposed to expecting individuals to have common sense? Just because someone can use technology does not mean that they should
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Old 04-08-09, 12:32 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Brian Shannon View Post
As opposed to expecting individuals to have common sense? Just because someone can use technology does not mean that they should

You should probably also tell that to the girl who took nude photo of herself and sent it to him.

I'm with kvrdave on this. I have no problem with punishing the douche for what he did in some fashion, but this is not what sex offender registries should be used for (if they should even be used at all).
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Old 04-08-09, 12:33 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Brian Shannon View Post
As opposed to expecting individuals to have common sense? Just because someone can use technology does not mean that they should
I agree that technology brings out the extra stupid in the masses. However, I think the issue at hand is the intent. Do you hold sexting between teens in the same light as an older adult child predator who stalks naive children to rape and murder them? The law makes no distinction in this case. And maybe it's not possible to make that distinction. I guess the lawyers here should chime in.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:33 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

If they got this kid for transmitting child pornography, then they should get the friends and family of the girl for possession of child pron after receiving the text message regardless it's unsolicited. The whole child porn law has to do with possession regardless, so if they want to go crazy with it, they should go crazy with prosecuting the receivers as well.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:36 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
... but this is not what sex offender registries should be used for (if they should even be used at all).
Despite many many articles & research coming out to say SO registration doesn't do shit.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:38 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by chuckd21 View Post
(CNN) --. But sending nude or seminude pictures, a phenomenon known as sexting, is a fast-growing trend among teens.
It is surprising to us as parents, but for teens it's part of their culture."
I think it's time as a society that we step back a little bit and avoid this temptation to lock up our children."[/b]
These " adorable " teens who do this have to know what can happen to them by now. It's all over the news, how can they not know.
Every week there is a new story about this topic.
If these idiots want to do this then they should suffer the consequences. They know what they're doing and what can happen.
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Old 04-08-09, 12:41 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

The problem I have with stuff like this is it is to the point where being on the sex offender registry has no real meaning anymore -- people have to discern between truly dangerous sex offenders and those who just did stupid things like this -- and thus it defeats the whole point of having the list.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:17 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

I am in possession of this child porn.

Spoiler:


I expect to be arrested any day now.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:26 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by DRG View Post
The problem I have with stuff like this is it is to the point where being on the sex offender registry has no real meaning anymore -- people have to discern between truly dangerous sex offenders and those who just did stupid things like this -- and thus it defeats the whole point of having the list.
Exactly. Calling everyone a Nazi dilutes the horrors of the Nazis. Calling everyone a sex offender will do nothing but make the label and the registry meaningless, and eventually something teens will try to get on because it is the cool thing to do.

Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
As opposed to expecting individuals to have common sense? Just because someone can use technology does not mean that they should
I'm not saying there should be no punishment and that what he did was okay, but this is akin to charging a kid with assualt with a deadly weapon when he points a plastic knife at someone. The punishment does not fit the crime. If the punishment was the electric chair, I would also be against that. Not because I am against the death penalty, but because this should not be in the death penalty category.

Originally Posted by al_bundy
at some point the law has to have a cut off where you are considered a full adult and need to be careful with anyone who is not an adult yet. otherwise anyone who is arrested will argue they are a special case and shouldn't go to jail
I think the law needs to make a distinction between prepubescent porn and porn with people who look like they could be of legal age to a reasonable person. I think hard and fast rules for age in something like this don't make sense if you can have a stunted 18 year old who looks 12 and have it perfectly legal, but you can have Traci Lords at age 16 appearing nude in national publications, but later decide it was illegal child porn.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:29 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by edstein View Post
I am in possession of this child porn.

Spoiler:


I expect to be arrested any day now.
Once again, child porn is not simply a nude child. It must be sexually suggestive or explicit.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:30 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by DRG View Post
The problem I have with stuff like this is it is to the point where being on the sex offender registry has no real meaning anymore -- people have to discern between truly dangerous sex offenders and those who just did stupid things like this -- and thus it defeats the whole point of having the list.
Exactly. I also say the prosecutors in these cases are jerks when they know full well they will be ruining the lives of the people they prosecute.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:30 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Numanoid View Post
Once again, child porn is not simply a nude child. It must be sexually suggestive or explicit.

Once again, you can try to convince everyone that the picture does nothing for you, but we all know you protest too much.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:32 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

I don't know. What do you suppose the proper punishment is for the douchebag move of sending a nudey (and most probably sexually suggestive) pic of a 16 year-old to friends and family? Seems like the karma train pulled into this kid's station.

Now, when kids are busted for simply taking their OWN pic and sending it to their girl/boyfriends, that's completely different and should never be considered under these laws, IMO.
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Old 04-08-09, 01:35 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post
20 years ago when we gave judges more discretion, we would get stories about people raping and killing kids while out on parole and everyone thought those judges were idiots


Megan's Law was passed because someone who was out on parole who had hurt a child killed another one
And if it continued to be about people who had hurt children, I don't think there would be a huge argument (well, maybe about ex post facto punishment). Instead you dilute it with idiocy like this, and it becomes like the boy who cried wolf. Megan's Law does nothing to protect kids... for that matter, it does nothing except to (i) encourage vigilante justice, and (ii) further ostracize people to the point where it's easier for them to commit another crime and go to jail than it is to be rehabilitated (look at the sex offenders living under the bridge in Miami as examples).
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Old 04-08-09, 01:36 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Originally Posted by Numanoid View Post
I don't know. What do you suppose the proper punishment is for the douchebag move of sending a nudey (and most probably sexually suggestive) pic of a 16 year-old to friends and family? Seems like the karma train pulled into this kid's station.

Now, when kids are busted for simply taking their OWN pic and sending it to their girl/boyfriends, that's completely different and should never be considered under these laws, IMO.
You want to send him to jail for a little while or give him probation, I don't think anyone's arguing. But how is society made more safe by putting him on the sex offender registry?
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Old 04-08-09, 01:37 PM
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Re: Another round of sexting lands 18 year old on sex offenders registry

Why is the girl not charged for the same crime? If it were not for her sending the pic first no other crime would have been committed.
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