ACLU Wants Child Porn Charges Against 14-Year-Old Who Sent Selfie Dropped

December 21, 2017 10:13 PM

The Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is petitioning a Rice County juvenile court to drop felony child pornography charges against a teen.

The 14-year-old girl, whom KSTP is not identifying, was charged after prosecutors said she sent an sexually-explicit selfie to a boy at her school through the social media app, Snapchat.

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Court documents explain the photo was captured and further disseminated.

After speaking with the teen's defense attorney, ACLU's legal director Teresa Nelson drafted a brief to the court, arguing charges should be dropped.

The family's upset," Nelson said. "This could have a devastating effect on her life."

In the brief, Nelson argues the 14-year-old "cannot criminally use or victimize herself..." by sending the selfie. She also argues that what happened in this case is sexting, not distribution of child porn. But that Minnesota law doesn't make a distinction between the two.

"The purpose of the law is to protect people who are victimized, to protect children who are victimized," Nelson said. "We don't have a victim in this case. She was not coerced. She was not creating child pornography of someone else."

The brief argues that if there's no victim, there should be no charges. But Nelson said something does need to be done to illustrate the seriousness of the problem.

"I think this is a teachable moment for educators, for parents, to talk to her about the consequences," Nelson said. "It's a cautionary tale, and probably a call to action for the legislature to update our law to make it clear that, in this situation, kids shouldn't be charged with felonies for creating material of themselves that they share."

Rice County Attorney John Fossum declined to comment on the case, saying juvenile proceedings are confidential.
 

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Kirsten Swanson

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