A sexting case in Virginia has a 17-year-old boy up on felony child pornography charges for allegedly receiving a sexually-oriented picture from his 15-year-old girlfriend then sending her a video of his own in return. If he’s convicted in the sexting case, the boy — whose name is not made public because he is still a minor — could go to prison and be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
But that’s not even the worst part of this sexting case currently underway in Manassas, Virginia. Police are demanding a piece of evidence from the teen boy that raises alarming questions for anyone who doesn’t understand why the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures were included in the U.S. Constitution.
According to a report in The Washington Post, Manassas Police and Prince William County prosecutors are demanding that the 17-year-old boy submit to a photograph of his penis. And that’s not all. They want the photo of his penis in an erect state.
And that’s still not all the authorities want.
They’re saying that the teen must come with them to a local hospital and allow doctors to inject a substance into his penis, a drug that produces an instant erection, while they all watch and take pictures.
The 15-year-old girl who initially sent a sext to her boyfriend, is not being charged. But the boy is charged with possessing child porn for receiving the message from his girlfriend, and with producing child porn for sending his own video message back.
The case came to the attention of police when the girl’s mother saw the video of her daughter’s boyfriend and called the cops.
The teenage boy was arrested and at that time, police photographed his penis without his consent, his attorney says.
“The prosecutor’s job is to seek justice,” said attorney Jessica Foster. “What is just about this? How does this advance the interest of the Commonwealth? This is a 17-year-old who goes to school every day, plays football, has never been in trouble with the law before. Now he’s saddled with two felonies and the implication that he’s a sexual predator. My goal is to stop the search warrant. I don’t want him to go through that. Taking him down to the hospital so he can get an erection in front of all those cops, that’s traumatizing.”
David Rudovsky, a University of Pennsylvania legal scholar who specializes in privacy issues, doesn’t think the police will be allowed to go through with the forced erection photos.
“The courts have said in a number of situations is that even if there’s some cause to believe that the procedure might lead them to evidence, where it involves a serious intrusion of personal dignity and privacy, you have to balance that with the nature of the intrusion,” Rudovsky told the ThinkProgress site, adding that the forced erection photos would be, “too invasive in terms of his personal dignity. The police need to have good reason, it needs to be a serious case and they need to have need for this evidence. I don’t think they have either.”
Neither the Manassas Police Department nor the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney would comment on the Virginia sexting case. Since 2009, 20 states have introduced legislation targeted at teen sexting, to avoid teens being saddled with serious child pornography charges. Virginia has no such law.