Virginia Teen Who Sexted Girlfriend Faces Child Pornography Charges (Updated)


UPDATE, July 11, 8:55 a.m.: Manassas City police will not be taking a photograph of the 17-year-old’s penis, which would have been used as evidence in the case, according to news reports. The Associated Press reported that the police department will allow the search warrant it obtained to take the photograph to expire.

A young man in Virginia who sent a sexually explicit video to his girlfriend is facing child pornography charges, while his lawyer argues that a plan by prosecutors to have his penis photographed as part of the case constitutes child abuse.

The 17 year old from Manassas City has been charged with possession of child pornography and manufacturing of child pornography after sending a sexually explicit video of himself to his 15-year-old girlfriend. Law enforcement officials were alerted to the video by the girl’s mother. The young man says he sent the video in response to sexual photos his girlfriend sent to him; no charges have been filed against the girl. If found guilty, the young man could be incarcerated until his 21st birthday and his name could go on the state’s sexual offenders list, possibly for the rest of his life.

Child pornography laws were put in place to protect children and prevent them from being exploited by having sexual pictures of them taken and distributed. In this case, the picture in question is of the young man’s own genitals, which would make him both the perpetrator and the victim.

The young man has also allegedly been treated poorly by county prosecutors. The original charges had to be dismissed, apparently because the state failed to certify that the defendant was a juvenile. New charges were filed immediately. The young man was arrested, his home was searched, and he was brought to juvenile jail, where his lawyers say officials took pictures of his genitals without his permission.

Then, according to Jessica Harbeson Foster, the young man’s lawyer, prosecutors told the teen that he had to plead guilty to the charges or they would obtain a search warrant to take pictures of his erect penis so they could compare them to the video in question. When Foster asked about the process for doing this, she was told that the defendant would be taken to a local hospital and given an injection that would induce an erection and allow them to take the pictures they said they needed.

The teen refused to plead guilty, and a search warrant for the pictures is reported to have been granted by a juvenile judge. However, the warrant has not yet been served, and as such it has not been made public. In a statement, a spokesperson from the Manassas City Police Department said, “It is not the policy of the Manassas City Police or the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature and no such procedures have been conducted in this case. Beyond that, neither the Police Department nor the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office discusses evidentiary matters prior to court hearings.”

The teen is set to be back in court on July 15; until then we will not know if prosecutors will follow through with the plan to take pictures of his penis.

Foster told the Washington Post, “I don’t want him to go through that. Taking him down to the hospital so he can get an erection in front of all those cops, that’s traumatizing.”

His court-appointed guardian ad litem, Carlos Flores Laboy, told the Post, “They’re using a statute that was designed to protect children from being exploited in a sexual manner to take a picture of this young man in a sexually explicit manner. The irony is incredible. As a parent myself, I was floored. It’s child abuse.”

Both Foster and Laboy have other issues with the case as well. “We’re wasting thousands of dollars and resources and man hours on a sexting case,” Laboy said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Foster added, “The prosecutor’s job is to seek justice. What is just about this? How does this advance the interest of the Commonwealth? This is a 17-year-old who goes to school every day, plays football, has never been in trouble with the law before. Now he’s saddled with two felonies and the implication that he’s a sexual predator.”

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  • Arachne646

    OH MY GOD! There are some weird stories from the US about teens getting made into sex offenders by their partner’s parents, but it’s usually some irrational statutory rape law. There’s a tendency in Canada to think that you’re all nuts down South, there, and stories like this (and Hobby Lobby decisions) are the reason. Poor kid.

  • BelligerentBruncher

    No charges have been filed against the girl?

    Why not?

    • A. T.

      No charges should be filed against anyone. This is incredibly idiotic on all levels.

  • Shan

    God, it’s like a weird episode of SVU.