Remember the teenagers getting charged with child pornography for taking revealing pictures of themselves with cell phones?
They're fighting back.
According to an article in the New York Times by Sean Hamill, 17 students -- 13 girls and 4 boys -- accepted a plea bargain requiring them to attend 10-hour class on pornography and sexual violence, and accept random drug testing.
Only the students in the pictures -- not the people distributing them -- were threatened with legal action.
But three girls, who refused to attend the class even after they were threatened with a charge of sexual abuse of a minor (themselves), have instead filed suit in federal court against District Attorney George P. Skumanick of Wyoming County. His threat to do so was “retaliation” for the families asserting their First and Fourth Amendment rights to oppose his deal, the Times reported.
The girls and their families are getting some heavy-powered legal aid, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The ACLU's focus is on the girls' right to take such pictures of themselves. According to the Times, the EFF's interest is whether the pictures were found during an illegal search, though that is not, as yet, part of the lawsuit.
Skumanick told a group of parents and students that he has the authority to prosecute girls photographed in underwear, like the three girls, or even in a bikini on the beach, because the photos are "provocative," according to the ACLU.
"Kids should be taught that sharing digitized images of themselves in embarrassing or compromised positions can have bad consequences, but prosecutors should not be using heavy artillery like child-pornography charges to teach them that lesson," said Witold Walczak, Legal Director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, in a written statement. "These are just kids being irresponsible and careless; they are not criminals and they certainly haven't committed child pornography."