I have previously been critical of the blind application laws on sending sexually explicit photos and other laws to teenagers. While purpose of these laws is laudable, we have seen various cases of teenagers facing ruinous charges over consensual exchanges. A case in point is Cormega Copening, 17, and his girlfriend, Brianna Denson, who were charged as adults in February for sending “sexually explicit” photos of minors. However, they are the minors. They were 16. However, in some twisted logic, prosecutors have charged them as adults . . . for sending minors these photos . . . when the minors are themselves and they are being charged as a adults.
Copening is a North Carolina high school quarterback but in North Carolina a 16 year old is treated as an adult, even though the crime is sending images to a minor. So he is legally an adult for the purposes of the charges but he is accused of a crime for sending such pictures as a non-adult (of someone under 18).
All of this makes sense to North Carolina police and prosecutors. Benson reached a plea agreement to avoid felony charges while Copening still faces two counts of second degree sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of third degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Each count is a felony charge and a felony carries at least two years in jail.
Opening may also have to register as a sex offender.
What is also striking is that police and prosecutors threw the book at him after he and his mother cooperated with their request to examine his cellphone. He was not even a suspect in the investigation, which dealt with statutory rape. On the phone, they found five pictures of Cormega and his girlfriend. They were not sent to anyone else. They were consensual photos between two romantically involved teenagers.