Sunday, February 10, 2013

SC - Boyfriend gets lifetime sex offender status for cellphone video, even though sex was legal

Original Article


COLUMBIA - [name withheld] will spend the next 18 months in a federal prison for 15 minutes worth of sex videos he made with his teenage girlfriend.

The girlfriend, who knew [name withheld] was videoing at the time, was 16– which made her a minor under a federal sex offender law meant to apply to serious sex crimes. Having the video on his cellphone meant [name withheld] violated federal law by possessing child pornography.

[name withheld]’ prison sentence, handed down Thursday, is the type of nightmare scenario that law enforcement has been warning parents and high school students about: Intimate videos and photos of young people on electronic devices can send someone to prison.

[name withheld], who was 20 at the time, had no criminal record and whose attorney said comes from a “very good family,” now will be listed on South Carolina’s sex offender registry. The registry mostly includes sex predators, stalkers, pedophiles, child pornographers and rapists. That will sharply limit his future career choices and even where he can live.

This is the most perplexing case I’ve had in a long time,” U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson told [name withheld], of Eastover, during the sentencing hearing at the federal courthouse in Columbia.

Anderson also gave [name withheld] 18 months in prison for making a bomb threat to Eau Claire High School in north Columbia on Nov. 2, 2011. He made the threat so he and his girlfriend, an Eau Claire student, could spend the day together without her having to skip school. The two 18-month sentences will be served concurrently.

[name withheld] used a blocking technology to disguise his cellphone number when he called Eau Claire to make the threat. But FBI investigators easily got records from Verizon that they used to identify his HTC smart phone. Once they tracked [name withheld] down, he confessed. In examining his phone, the FBI discovered the videos and charged him with making a bomb threat and child pornography.

What made the case so different from the normal child pornography case, prosecution and defense lawyers said, was that [name withheld] didn’t download the video to a computer or try to sell it or even share it with anyone. And the 16-year-old’s mother knew about [name withheld] and often let him spend the night at her house. Moreover, when [name withheld] had met the girl, she had told him she was 18.

Another complicating factor: At 16, the girl was legally able to have consensual sex under South Carolina law. But under federal law, it isn’t legal to videotape minors under 18 having sex.

I just have a problem with a sentence that long with the facts of this case,” Anderson said, noting it would cost taxpayers $192,000 to keep [name withheld] in prison for nine years.

Ironically, the maximum sentence for [name withheld]’  bomb threat charge by itself would have only brought six months’ probation for someone with no criminal record. What allowed prosecutors to seek prison is that his two crimes were linked together – the bomb threat had been made on the cell phone with the videos.

[name withheld]’ lawyer, federal assistant public defender Katherine Evatt, had argued for a prison sentence of a year and a day, something that would be a punishment but would also take into account the peculiar facts of this case. She also told the judge that [name withheld]' left leg had been amputated – as a result of an earlier ATV accident – and “a term in prison would be harder for him. He will need special care.”

In a brief court statement, [name withheld] apologized to his family and told Anderson, “I’m sorry about everything. If I could take it back I would. This ain’t my lifestyle.”

Anderson told [name withheld] his crimes were just stupid. After the hearing, [name withheld] walked over and shook hands with Holliday and the FBI agent who handled the case. “Good luck to you,” Holliday told him.


Anon said...

This country has completely taken leave of its senses.... I am just speechless.

shiners said...

Really? Does nobody think anymore?

6 months probation and his record should be eligible for expungement after a year if no further crimes are committed is what the punishment should have been.

This is just ridiculous.

I find it amazing that the prosecutors would actually think that a year in jail is valid.

This boy is not a criminal; but he might turn out to be one in a matter of years because of the level of punishment and continued punishment he will face while being on the registry.

I doubt he would have EVER called in another bomb threat.

However, if I was 20 and dated a 16 year old, my friends would all laugh at me.

Loneranger said...

wow is all I can say to this. Nine years at a cost of 190 thousand dollars. One has to wonder if this DA is really worth keeping around as he did nothing to protect society and in the long run has done much to damage it. The financial damage to society caused by him winning this case goes much farther and will last this persons lifetime. In effect this will make him a burden on society for the rest of his life. Jobs will be either non existent or will be under paid to the point he contributes nothing. Just so a DA can win. I guess that is all that is important here as there is no justice in the system only notches on the DA's gun.

Bill Barney said...

Why don't they just put every one on the registry and get it over with? I mean that is what the government wants. The end goal is to paint every citizen in this country as a criminal and a why drag it out? We are all sexual beings. Our sexuality is as normal to us as eating and breathing air. It is what we do. So just make sex illegal for any one of any age then put us all on the registry and take away our constitutional government grant privileges also known as God granted irrevocable rights..

nathan rabalais said...

What he did was stupid and wrong and should not have to register when, he gets out of prison

Macintosh said...

No, Americans have not taken leave of their senses. It's the leaders that have taken that leave. Most Americans are indifferent. That leaves the vocal minority to have such a powerful say in things. An average politician can solve problems, but the most powerful politicians will first "create" the problem and then propose measures to solve it.

This kid should be punished for calling in a bomb threat, but prison time for legal sex with his girlfriend ... Wtf? If the Federal government wants to get serious about stoping 18 and under sex then just shop the maternity wards at every hospital. Any girl giving birth who's under 18 should result in an arrest. The Feds would be solving two problems (1) teen pregnancy (2) under age sex.

Does anyone remember the movie "Ferris Buller's Day Off?" How many federal and state laws would he have broken? Of course many of those laws didn't exist at that time, but it shows how much America had changed since then.

deathklok said...

I can understand the FBI had a warrant to search the kid's phone and verify it was used to call in the bomb threat. I thought that would be the only thing their warrant was good for. Or do they not need a warrant anymore for "homegrown terrorist" acts. Was the girlfriend charged for being a co-conspirator. I suppose he's lucky they didn't find any pirated music or apps on his phone.

Dare2bme said...

Once again, another sad instance of justice gone wrong. These damn laws they claim protect the children, now make them offenders. Go figure.