I think it is a universal truth that teenagers often make foolish or short-sighted decisions. Certainly, creating child pornography of oneself and sending the video to another teen is ill-advised--and technically illegal--but unfortunately it not uncommon in this wired-in generation. However, when Prince William County police take pictures of the boy's flaccid penis "as evidence" not only does it magnify the initial crime by creating further instances of child porn, but also such an act by the state is likely traumatizing to the minor. As if this isn't heavy-handed enough, Prince William County prosecutors further want the teen to be forced to receive an injection so that his erect penis can also be photographed. As a result, he has to flee the state to escape the warrant. All of this is frankly Orwellian. What happened to the boy's right to privacy or his right against self-incrimination? It seems that Big Brother has supplanted Uncle Sam in America.
A 17 year old is legally and biologically a child. When this Manassas youth foolishly sent explicit images of himself to his teenaged girlfriend while it is technically considered child pornography--and therefore illegal--it is a child's mistake and should be treated gently with a judge's stern warning and community service hours. He should not have to submit to the invasive humiliation of police comparison photographs of his genitalia. Indeed, he should not suffer an overzealous persecution by Prince William County prosecutors: their plan to medically-induce the boy's erection to gather "evidence" was finally abandoned only after public outrage. Given the propensities of this technically-savvy generation, this situation is not likely to be in isolated incident. The law needs to be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor for juveniles. This is a simple case of hormones overwhelming common sense. The boy's is understandable; police and prosecutors not so much.
References: Explicit photos won't be used in 'sexting' case (Tom Jackman, Washington Post) & Va. 'sexting' case reignites debate (Rachel Weiner, Washington Post)
‘Police to take graphic photos of teen as evidence’ & 'Police back off on plan to take explicit photo' (Matthew Barakat, The Washington Times)