By Nicole Brady
Danny (not his real name) was 17 when he and his girlfriend filmed themselves having sex. He later transferred two still images - depicting his girlfriend sitting on top of him, wearing a bra and filmed from behind so neither was identifiable - to his computer. Danny says the girl, three months older than him, knew about the stills.
She later asked him to delete the video, which he did. But, after they broke up a year or so later, "in a heartbroken rage" he emailed the two stills to three male friends.
"That rage only lasted for an hour and I immediately began to feel guilty and so stupid," says Danny. The next day he deleted the pictures and contacted his friends, asking them to do so as well. But one of the recipients was a friend of Danny's former girlfriend and told her.
"She had a very angelic reputation and image and I had tarnished that. Regardless of what she had put me through she didn't deserve that. It was a very out of character moment for me," Danny says.
He told his parents. "We were furious," says his father, "it was a despicable thing to do."
Danny's parents had worse shocks to come: several months later three plain-clothes police appeared on their doorstep wanting to seize Danny's computer and take him for questioning.
"We told him not to tell them anything," the father says. But Danny, "told them 100 per cent the truth. I thought I'd made the bed so I'd sleep in it. I just had no idea of the consequences."
That was the last he heard of the matter for nearly 12 months. "That year was really hard, I just couldn't concentrate on anything, I was very unmotivated and didn't do a whole lot."
Then the police returned. Danny says that police could not find the images on either his or his friend's computers, but his honest admissions led to him being charged with one count of making child pornography on film, one count of making child pornography as a photograph and one count of transmitting child pornography online.
Melbourne-raised Danny, who had never before been in contact with police, was devastated. His parents feared their son would be jailed. On legal advice he pleaded guilty in the Magistrate's Court and was fined $1000 without conviction.
He says his lawyer assured him he would not be placed on the sex offender register. Danny, who loves kids, left court determined to pursue his dream to open his own teaching business.
But several months later, his dream was scuttled when he was informed that having been found guilty of child pornography offences it was mandatory for him to be placed on the register for eight years.
Danny appears to have slipped through a loophole. When he was charged the Sex Offender Registration Act allowed for judicial discretion in some cases. But the Act was amended in June 2008 - before his case got to court - making it mandatory for those found guilty of child pornography offences such as his to be registered.
Although Danny's father believes his son is erroneously on the register, the family cannot afford the legal fees to mount a Supreme Court challenge.
The effect has been devastating and far-reaching. A young female relative he used to be close to feels rejected because he no longer responds to her emails as he is prohibited from electronic contact with minors.
"My son is not a risk to children," Danny's father says, "this is ridiculous."