Two North Carolina teens (not pictured) facing multiple felony charges for sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography have accepted plea deals from prosecutors this summer to avoid jail time and a lifetime of registration as sex offenders.
Fayetteville, North Carolina high school student Brianna Denson, 16, has been ordered to pay $200 in court fees, attend a class on good decisions, is barred from owning a cell phone for one year and must submit to warrantless searches for the duration of her one year probation, according to Fayobserver.
Her crime? Brianna Denson’s phone contained naked photos of herself.
Denson was listed as both the victim and perpetrator of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor for taking her own photo and for having said photo in her possession. Denson was originally facing a year in prison and upon release would have been required to register as a sex offender. For taking a photo…of her own body.
A second teen was also charged, Denson’s boyfriend Cormega Zyon Copening, 17, has been charged with five counts of sexual exploitation. Four counts for pictures of himself, and one for possessing a picture that Denson made for him.
Copening’s has accepted a similar plea deal.
The interesting thing about this case is although the pictures the teens took of themselves are illegal, sex between 16 year olds is totally legal in North Carolina.
Normally these laws are applied in an attempt to protect against cyber-bullying and the spread of pictures that are taken and then shared to a group. The Sheriff’s office said that when a case like this comes up they do allow the kids to take a similar plea deal to avoid prosecution.
“It’s dysfunctional to be charged with possession of your own image,” said Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin and co-founder of the research website cyberbullying.org.
Psychologist Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch who has studied teen sexting behavior said his research has found that 28 percent of teens use their cellphones to send naked photos of themselves to other teens. If these standards were applied nationally “you’re talking about millions of kids being charged with child pornography,” said Temple
Once Denson and Copening complete their ridiculous yearlong probation their records will be wiped clean.
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