Phillip Alpert, found out the hard way. He got pissed at his 16 year old former girlfriend. He took out his anger by e-mailing naked photos of her to more than 70 people, including her parents, grandparents and teachers. She had taken the photos voluntarily. Alpert, then 18, was charged with transmitting child pornography. He plead “nolo contendere” to the charges. Today Alpert is serving five years of probation for the crime. He is also registered as a sex offender. He must stay registered until he is 43 years old. He recently appeared on Fox News and blamed his attorney for not making clear to him what his plea would mean with regards to being required to register as a sex offender. What Phillip does not say in the interview that if he tried the case the jury probably would have had no choice but to convict. This may have resulted in mandatory prison time.
If you do not think this can happen head on down to Georgia and speak with Genarlow Wilson. In his case teen sex at a party turned into a statutory rape conviction with a sex offender tag and mandatory 10 year prison sentence. He was 17 and the girl was 15. His conviction was eventually overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court but not before he spent two years of the 10 behind bars. A young life changed forever after what was really nothing more than poor teen judgment. Genarlow also faced a similar choice. He was offered a much lighter sentence but would have still had to register as a sex offender. A conviction meant a mandatory 10 year sentence. He chose to try the case. He lost in the short term but is now free of the sex offender tag and moving on with his life.
Alpert is not an isolated case.” Sexting” is becoming the “mainstream norm” It has apparently lost all context among teens as to what it really means to “hit send. It has become so ingrained within the “play zone” between generations Y and Z that an almost complete disconnect has evolved between act of hitting send and content being transmitted and stored on the other end when it comes to our cell phones. In the teen mind if it is transmitted by cell phone it “isn’t real” and not covered by any definition of moral responsibility or man made law much the same way a dollar bill in Las Vegas loses all context when converted into a gaming chip. Much the same way two consenting teens hook up for a quickie at a high school house party. Judgment that is flawed as a pure matter of age becomes even more so with consequences never envisioned until an indictment is handed down and a jury says guilty.
You may cry foul and exclaim that the images were not obscene. You may argue that this was not the intent of child pornography laws. You may go on Bill O”Reilly and rant that the laws your child is being prosecuted under laws meant to deter pedophiles and perverts and instead are being used “in loco parentis” when punishment for such indiscretions should be left to the parents. You may very well be doing all these things as the process takes on a life of its own. You may be doing these things as your child is indicted, convicted and his/her appeal winds its way slowly through the justice system while he serves his mandatory minimum sentence at the nearest state or federal penitentiary with real perverts and child molesters or at some “gladiator” juvenile facility.
Moral of story? Have the talk…
©2009 Brian Cuban
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