Police seek graphic photos of teen for use as evidence in sexting case
Virginia state police want to take photographs of 17-year-old male in a sexually aroused state as part of case against him over sexting his ex-girlfriend who was 15 years old at the time
A US teenager is fighting efforts by police who want to take photos of him in a sexually aroused state to try to prove a sexting case against him.
Prosecutors in Virginia told a judge they need photos of the 17-year-old’s erect penis to compare against photos he is accused of sending to his 15-year-old girlfriend at the time. The teenager has been charged in juvenile court with possessing and manufacturing child pornography related to images of himself he’s accused of creating.
The teen’s lawyers are fighting a search warrant allowing the photographs in court. A hearing is scheduled for next week.
Defence lawyer Jessica Foster said she is unaware of any cases where police have pursued similar photographs, particularly of a minor.
“This is crazy,” she said. “Nobody’s even heard of something like this. ... The charges are excessive, and the means by which they are seeking evidence are outrageous.”
The teen’s appointed advocate, Carlos Flores Laboy, said his understanding is that police plan to do some sort of computer analysis of the photos to try and prove a similarity to the explicit photo found on the girl’s phone. He said the search warrant vividly demonstrates the importance of defending individuals’ constitutional rights against invasions of privacy.
“Doing this to an adult would be traumatic. We’re talking about a 17-year-old child,” he said.
The lawyers said police have told them they plan to obtain the photo by taking the teen to a hospital and injecting him with a chemical that would cause an erection.
The teen’s aunt and legal guardian has sent the teen out of the state for now so the warrant can’t be executed.
“He’s overwhelmed. He’s scared. He doesn’t want to be in Virginia” because police could theoretically show up at any time to try to take the photographs, she said.
The Associated Press isn’t naming the teen or his aunt in accordance with a policy of not identifying juvenile suspects.
Police have been pursuing the case since January, the aunt said, when the girlfriend’s mother discovered the explicit content.
Police and prosecutors did not return calls on Wednesday afternoon seeking comment.
The Manassas City Police later posted a statement on its website saying that it is not their policy “to authorise invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature and no such procedures have been conducted in this case.”
The statement added that police were contacted by the mother of the 15-year-old girl “who was sent pornographic videos” by the 17-year-old “after repeatedly being told to stop”.