The father of a Florida teen is in a tough position after turning over the phone of his son in what he thought was an investigation into disturbing images of guns on Instagram and Snapchat. Police however arrested Sean Mesa, 18, a student at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High, not only for the improper display of a firearm but for the more serious change of possession of child pornography based on an examination of the phone.
Mesa’s case was reported to the U.S Homeland Security Investigations’ Violent Gang Task Force for his Instagram and Snapchat photos “recklessly displaying firearms and pointing them at the camera.” Notably, a girl is also shown displaying a weapon but there is no report of charges against her. He also had an image with a pistol on his lap with the caption: “now they watching so I ain’t stopping.”
When confronted over the images, Mesa insisted that he did nothing wrong in the photos but the father agreed to hand over the phone. The U.S. Secret Service examined the phones and found a video of what appeared to be a child under the age of 10 being sexually abused. They also found that the video was sent to two other people in the group chat, who could also be charged.
The charges on the display of the weapons might have been challenged as based on an ambiguous criminal provision. There is no allegation that Mesa threatened anyone or had violent intentions.
The question however is how the prosecutors will handle the very serious child porn charges in light of the father’s cooperation. Mesa is an adult and the police could likely have received a warrant for the phone.
What do you think is the appropriate punishment in such a case? Should the other teens be charged for the photos or the receipt of the video?