Minnesota Teen Charged With Child Pornography For Sending Nude Selfie To Schoolmate


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A 14-year-old Minnesota girl was charged with felony child pornography by a Minnesota juvenile court for sending a nude selfie to a boy at her school through Snapchat, an image messaging and multimedia mobile application.

Prosecutors say the girl, reportedly both the victim and the felon of child pornography, violated Minnesota’s child pornography statute, which is designed for adults and bans distributing sexually-explicit pictures of underaged subjects.

Apparently, the boy saved her Snapchat selfie and shared it with other schoolmates without the consent of the girl, yet she is facing charges for ‘sexual crimes’ that could lead to her being placed on a sex offender registry for at least the next decade.

The girl, who is being referred to as Jane Doe, was charged with the “felony sex offense of knowingly disseminating pornographic work involving a minor to another person”; an adult convicted of this crime can face up to seven years in prison.

While Jane isn’t facing a criminal prosecution in adult court, if convicted, the ‘crime’ could seriously limit her adult life before it’s begun — because of consensual encounters she had with another teen. 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.

Thankfully, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN), concerned over prosecutions for the widespread sharing of photos by teenagers, has come to Jane’s rescue claiming the charge filed by Rice County Attorney John Fossum is “ridiculous”, “absurd”, and “bucking the national trend” on how teens are treated legally in these circumstances.

Teresa Nelson, ACLU’s legal director argues the charges should be dropped:

“This could have a devastating effect on her life. The 14-year-old cannot criminally use or victimize herself by sending the selfie. What happened in this case is sexting, not distribution of child porn. But the Minnesota law doesn’t make a distinction between the two.

“The purpose of the law is to protect people who are victimized, to protect children who are victimized. We don’t have a victim in this case. She was not coerced. She was not creating child pornography of someone else. If there’s no victim, there should be no charges.

“I think this is a teachable moment for educators, for parents, to talk to her about the consequences. It’s a cautionary tale, and probably a call to action for the legislature to update our law to make it clear that, in this situation, kids shouldn’t be charged with felonies for creating material of themselves that they share.”

According to the legal brief from ACLU, sexting is protected by the First Amendment because virtual child pornography was allowed while exploitation of actual children was prohibited by law, which means charging a teen for explicit selfies is,  in itself, a violation of the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, Jane Doe claims she is being victimized by the state:

“I’m not a criminal for taking a selfie. Sexting is common among teens at my school, and we shouldn’t face charges for doing it. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’m going through.”

As per the Minnesota statute 617,247, the purpose of child pornography law is to “protect minors from the physical and psychological damage caused by their being used in pornographic work depicting sexual conduct which involves minors.”

But, in this case, the state is applying the law in a wrong manner since the image in question was sent by the girl with consent to a boy she liked.



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