Minnesota Teen Charged With Child Pornography For Sending Selfie

225px-Instagram_logoIn Minnesota, there is a troubling  case brought by Rice County Attorney John Fossum who has confirmed that he has charged a 14-year-old girl with felony child pornography for sending a fellow teen a selfie of herself.  In such a twisted logic, the child is both the victim and the felon of child pornography.

The prosecution of the “Jane Doe” for her selfie highlights the rising concern over prosecutions for the widespread sharing of photos by teenagers.  The ACLU has entered the case to support the girl.

The Minnesota law does not have an exception for teen to teen transmissions:

Subd. 3.Dissemination prohibited.

(a) A person who disseminates pornographic work to an adult or a minor, knowing or with reason to know its content and character, is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than seven years and a fine of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and for not more than 15 years and a fine of not more than $20,000 for a second or subsequent offense.

(b) A person who violates paragraph (a) is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 15 years if the violation occurs when the person is a registered predatory offender under section 243.166.


What do you think?


60 thoughts on “Minnesota Teen Charged With Child Pornography For Sending Selfie”

    1. While the state might not always be one’s “friend” it is not always one’s enemy. The state is a necessity unless you believe you can survive in anarchy.

  1. One of the problems with victimless crime laws is that they create a chasm between law enforcement, who legally are required to enforce the laws, and the public, who wish said law enforcement could simply mind their own business. A major component of anger against the police is that their job necessarily entails snooping into people’s private affairs in order to enforce such laws.

  2. If only all laws were so explicit and didn’t differentiate on the basis of age, then perhaps we wouldn’t have so many children committing crimes with impunity. However, the law states: A person who disseminates pornographic work to an adult or a minor,…. What is the definition of pornographic work? What is going to happen to museums whose paintings of naked individuals are displayed on its walls?

    1. Excellent observation. Extrapolating the current pseudo-puritan trend, feminists can be expected to storm the museums and paint fig leaves on many works of the high renaissance. The Sistine Chapel will be burned to the ground, and Michelangelo will be branded a misogynist whose name shall be subtracted from all references in art history as he is thrown into the democrat dustbin with Robert E. Lee and Christopher Columbus.

  3. Girls and boys play show and tell. In this technological era one means is the selfie.
    Ye Gods! A lifetime penalty for show and tell? Get real.

  4. I think Rice County Attorney John Fossum should be strung up in the public square by his balls.

    1. Good comment I was scrolling down the comments with the intent to say the same thing when I read this.

  5. CP laws effectuate the criminalization of images, and all the paradoxical consequences that come about from that.
    Not the least of which is what defines an “image”, and what happens when such an image is encrypted or otherwise scrambled — is it still an image?

    Here we have another example of where the victim of child pornography is also the perpetrator of it.
    Simply by taking a photograph of themselves, they commit a felony. The image is more illegal than thing it depicts.

  6. There was a case in Washington state (lack of time restricts me finding the citation) where a passenger in a car collision where the driver’s reckless driving was a proximate cause. The state charged one of the passengers with reckless driving via aiding and abetting. The court ruled that the defendant passenger could not be held criminally liable due to the fact that he was a victim of the crime.

    In this case the girl was also a victim of the crime. While the above was traffic and this is general criminal for me that should be sufficient to dismiss the case, at least here. Minnesota is likely different.

  7. What an abuse of the law. Shame on the prosecutor.

    If the law allows for prosecution of a teenager for sexting, then the law needs to change. It would be patently absurd for this young woman to have to register as a sex offender over this.

    1. I agree. This is a bad case of prosecutorial discretion. There are some cases that are best dismissed simply on a cost benefit basis.

  8. I believe the underlying legal issue here — which I’m surprised Professor Turley didn’t address — is “parens patriae” — legal Latin concerning instances when the state assumes the responsibility for protecting citizens that are viewed as being unable to protect themselves.

    1. Must protect people from themselves. So goes the climate change agenda, state religion, and any other facade imposed on humanity for centuries.

      1. imposed on humanity for centuries…. to control the population. Sorry I left that part out the first time.

      2. I believe parens partriae usually comes into play when the state seeks to commit someone to a psychiatric facility if they pose a danger to themselves or others (which is generally a requirement for a finding of mental illness). People are often accused of being the victims of their own conduct when civil commitment concerning mental illness is the issue — so to that extent, it’s not unheard of that the law can view a person of being both the perpetrator AND the victim — but I’ve never heard of someone being accused of being both the perpetrator and the victim of their own criminal conduct.

        In this case it seems that the prosecutor’s bizarre determination that the girl is a victim of her own crime is along the same lines as are usually used in civil commitment proceedings.

        I’m not condoning the prosecutor’s conduct, but merely pointing out what the prosecutor’s underlying theory must be. I don’t think this case has enough legal merit to withstand a motion to dismiss the charge.

        Legality aside, the case is just plain absurd.

        1. William Bayer – just as an aside to this discussion, why are they not charging the boy for receiving pornographic materials. In fact, he may have published them by showing the picture to others. I am sure the girl did not turn herself in.

  9. This is nothing more than a prosecutor making his or her bones for bigger political gain. Showboating for a base. And donor money.

    1. Better learn human psychology, I think is the issue. We are at the point where some people (such as this prosecutor) are trying to criminalize human behavior in people that are still in their formative years. People don’t just pop out of the womb knowing what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior, and sometimes norms change faster than laws.
      This case is one where the state has no business interfering with what should result in a child’s parents sitting her down and explaining a few things to her so that she can avoid making some MISTAKES in the future.

      1. I won’t disagree Bill, but psychology involves a lot of interpretation of what is right and what is wrong. Humans have a wide range of biological responses along with a wide range of environments. Mix the two together and we have an infinite span of actions that are reasonable but can be judged wrong or criminal by one of a different temperament or brought up in a different environment.

        1. Yes — and everything you wrote is why I think it’s more an issue of psychology. The basis of psychology is essentially a judgment as to what is “normal” behavior. In some respects, it’s merely a statistical judgment whereby if one’s behavior isn’t encompassed within a statistical majority, or at least a very large minority, the behavior is viewed as being abnormal to some degree — a “disorder” of one kind or another. It’s essentially the same process by which crimes get designated a crimes.

          Prohibition is a good example. Alcohol was criminalized in the early 20th Century. The only problem there was that the law criminalized behavior that wasn’t statistically that far outside the norm. If it wasn’t a majority of people that drank, it was certainly a significant minority. As a result (and only after criminalization did little to prevent drinking but did LOTS to promote organized crime), alcohol was eventually re-legalized — and now we live in a society that not only accepts alcohol but vigorously promotes it.

          In one way, it’s all biological — or perhaps physiological is the proper term — because it involves biological reaction to alcohol, which simultaneously involves mood-alteration and cognitive function, which propels it into the realm of psychology. The biological/physiological result of alcohol consumption is relatively fixed, but the societal acceptance of alcohol consumption is purely a matter of making behavioral judgments — aka psychology.

          1. William Bayer – Prohibition only forbade the selling of alcohol not the drinking of it. It brought us cocktails, jazz as a white music as well as black and it brought women into bars to drink. Women were not allowed in saloons. It was a sexual revolution for women, The Jazz Age. And they could vote. People made extra money making bathtub gin, it was a cottage industry. Doctors made a fortune selling prescriptions for medicinal alcohol, which was very drinkable. Pharmacies made a fortune selling it. Good times were had by many. 🙂

            1. Well, the 18th Amendment forbade not just the selling of alcohol, but the manufacture and transportation as well. I suppose that technically didn’t criminalize possession or consumption, but the effect was the same.

              Also, as you’ve noted the positive effects of alcohol — jazz being one I particularly enjoy these many years after I stopped getting a kick out of drinking (if you never listened to Duke Ellington’s Back Room Romp album, I highly recommend it) — I expect you could say the same thing for pot and LSD, without which we’d never heard of either Sgt. Pepper OR his Lonely Hearts Club Band.

              And don’t get me started on the Pink Floyd Animals concert I attended at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1977. I could write a hundred pages about it.

              1. William Bayer – I was into folk, jazz and classical. I was not into drugs except alcohol, which was my drug of choice for a long time. However, it has been over 40 years since I have had any alcohol in any form. However, giving up smoking was harder. 🙂

          2. “The basis of psychology is essentially a judgment as to what is “normal” behavior.”

            Based upon whose judgment is being used, when, where, why…

            1. Psychological judgments concerning what is “normal” are the same sort of judgments as are used when conduct is being criminalized — it all boils down to “Based upon whose judgment is being used, when, where, why …”
              That’s why I thought the comparison with Prohibition is apt. It’s essentially one segment of society casting judgment upon another segment of society. And it’s the same sort of judgment by which pot was criminalized and by which it is slowly being decriminalized.
              Designating behavior criminal is every bit as subjective as designating conduct as a psychological “disorder.” The process frequently involves very poor judgment exercised by people with limited intelligence, less honesty, and often an ulterior motive.
              Maybe I’ve not been clear. I think the practice of psychology is a sham. It’s a worthy field of study for the purposes of one’s own self-improvement, but when it comes to judging others, it bears a striking resemblance to the Salem Witch Trials.

              1. I would say yes and no to your opinion on psychology.

                Think. Incentives are part of psychology and our entire economic system functions based on incentives. Psychology exists in medicine and the use of drugs to make one’s life better. Etc. I think context is an important element when discussing psychology.

                1. I don’t believe psychology is strictly considered “medicine.” I believe you’re thinking of psychiatry. And they are the ones that most often prescribe medication, because the general “medical” theory is that behavior is either the result of proper or improper chemical balance. That’s really a different issue than the study of behavior.
                  If you want to understand the practice of psychology, a good place to start is examination of the MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). It’s probably the most common tool used in psychology today, and I believe you can review it online. Depending on how serious one is about semantics and proper use of the English language, it’s pretty easy to locate absurdities in the test.
                  Then, if you ever talk to a licensed psychologist, you can also note deficiencies in the analytical process. For instance, if you are asked what your favorite color is (notwithstanding the possibility that you have no favorite color but consider colors “in context”) and you answer “yellow,” that has a tendency to put you in a group of the population that leans toward schizophrenia, merely because schizophrenics have a higher statistical probability of answering “yellow.”
                  The tools of psychology in use today lend themselves to WILD misuse, especially by a psychologist that isn’t particularly bright, or one that works for the state and has an “incentive” to find a problem even if a problem doesn’t exist.

                  1. Trust me, William, I know the difference between psychiatry and psychology and I know where they are similar. Suffice it to say clinical psychologists are an integral part of healthcare. I think you are creating black and white scenarios and that is not the way the world works. I don’t think you even realize how vast a field psychology is both academically and in the workplace.

  10. Laws like this one began more than a generation ago, perpetrated by feminists specifically targeting men, poorly disguised misandry finally coming full circle to bite as many women in the butt as men.

    Actually, one can easily make a good argument blaming feminists for infesting the Democratic Party with dishonesty, fraud and failed policy, not even mentioning promotion of open borders, illegal voting, DACA, runaway handouts, division of the country, and gender affirmative action that has too many times displaced competence in favor of the incompetent (e.g. HP, IRS, NASA). Then there is the dual standard where women who flirt get promoted, while men who flirt get fired.

    Feminists are too inbred now to conclude that the Trump they blame, they created.

    Thank you, feminists, for being too witless to move from the spot where you launched your poisonous boomerang.

    No doubt the prosecutor in this case is male, his decision thinly-disguised obsequious behavior serving no other purpose but to maintain favor with liberal women who otherwise would not let him in bed, conservative women actually preferring men without fake balls.

  11. Are all teenagers that have had sexual relations (not necessarily just intercourse, but everything short of intercourse as well) guilty of statutory rape? Better build prisons enough to hold half the population — or, in the alternative, GET REAL and knock off the prosecutorial nonsense.

  12. My understanding is that MN has nice facilities for juvenile offenders. And then when she is 18 they will probably send her to a minimum level security facility for women. She will do 8 years tops (assuming good behavior) however she will forever be branded as a child pornographer and have to register as a sex offender, etc.

    I think it is time teens stopped sending naked selfies to their bf and gf. I stand behind this prosecution. She is no victim unless you consider that she victimized herself. Go for it Rice Co.

    1. Or the opposite.
      All teens should send selfies of themselves naked to themselves, and then let the police know about it.
      Let us see what kind of political/legal changes will come about when half of all our children are branded felonious child pornographers on the sex registry for life.

  13. Child pornography can have long term negative impact on the victim and this 14 yo does not seem to understand that. The only way for her to learn is to convict her, which itself has a long term negative impact that may be worse then the original victimization. This philosophy is quite normal in our criminal justice system.

    1. Molly, you make a good point, of course. What about this?…By technically correctly prosecuting this one person, fewer teens will create child porn in the future. Do you think that is a legitimate basis to consistently prosecute all offenders under this law, regardless of who they are?

      1. Ideally, yes, because only then will the public fully realize how much we have criminalized. But that will never happen. Cops are still going to get away with crimes, white kids will still get leniency when caught with drugs, rich people will get special treatment, and this list will go on forever. As to the specifics of your questions, is destroying a teen’s life the correct price to pay for stopping teens from sending lewd pics of themselves? I say in this case the cure is worse then the disease.

  14. This is the same lack of sense that leads schools to charge 5- year old’s with gun-offenses for biting the corner off a pop-tart. As always, the refrain ” It’s the statute, I have no choice” will be trotted out.

    Unfortunately, this will be ‘tried’ in the back offices, and the prosecutor won’t be exposed as the idiot he is.

    1. Prosecutors have what is known as “prosecutorial discretion”, meaning that they, and only they, can decide whether someone should be charged with a crime, and if so, what crime. They also have the discretion whether to offer a plea deal, and what kind of plea deal. No one can legally compel a prosecutor to bring any charges against anyone, regardless of the facts. So, the prosecutor, and only the prosecutor, is responsible for this travesty.

  15. I think that this reflects very poorly on the prosecutor’s office. Makes me wish that misuse of prosecutorial discretion was itself a crime. (At least he’s not asking the 14 year old out on dates.)

    1. Well, not that we have heard of…

      I knew a guy who joined a group of exclusively adult men, professionally trained to befriend male child arsonists. Such children come almost exclusively from fatherless families. Sociologists and Juvenile Justice say such friendship minimize the child’s tendency to commit arson.

      One reason some men joined the above group was to socialize with the mothers, most of whom lack male companionship.

      1. Most children “coming from fatherless families”, are fatherless because the domestic courts extract the fathers custody and rights of fatherhood over their children.
        Fathers are not present because the state makes it impossible for them to be their children’s’ fathers.
        Without a father’s guidance the statistics overwhelmingly show that such children suffer in numerous emotional, social and criminal aspects.
        And of course all of society then suffers the fallout of that.

  16. Gov’t lackeys like this example who apply their power in ridiculous ways are why citizens don’t like government.

    1. Yeah, doesn’t this post need the tag of “government tyranny” or something? What about a real punishment that helps teach a lesson and provide a positive alteration of behavior. Like cleaning all the bathrooms in the school or something. I’m old school like that.

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