In Fayetteville, North Carolina, a 17-year-old boy struck a plea deal to avoid 10 years in prison and registered sex-offender status. His crime? Possessing nude photos of himself on his cellphone. Cormega Copening “was listed as both the victim and the perpetrator on the sexual exploitation charges.” Some of the photos, taken at age 16, were selfies. Others were taken by his 16-year-old girlfriend.
Copening’s plea deal includes random, warrantless law enforcement searches for a year. Likewise, Copening’s girlfriend was similarly charged and received a year’s probation. This controversial case has met heaps of criticism, as Copening’s photos were uncovered during an unrelated, warrantless search of his phone:
The selfies were deemed child pornography even though the age of consent in North Carolina is 16. Additionally, North Carolina is one of only two states that recognize 16 years old as adulthood in criminal matters, so both Copening and his girlfriend faced being charged as adults even though the crimes the perpetrated against themselves related to sexually exploiting minors.
Until now, there’s no precedent for a charging a teen with possession of their own nude photos. The Guardian quotes Justin Patchin (co-founder at cyberbullying.com), who says, “It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image.” Patchin doesn’t want to encourage teenagers to take these photos, but he also believes the act should not be a criminal offense.
(Via Rolling Stone)