This particular case isn’t taking place here in Michigan, but it is so similar to a number of other cases that are happening right here in our state, that we felt it was worth discussing. After all, child pornography is a very serious crime. But the criminals in question here are four teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16.
According to Chief Brian Benton of the Joliet Police Department, what happened was this….
Teenagers Post Video of Consensual Sex Act On Social Media
Four teenagers from Joliet Township High School, three boys and one girl, engaged in a consensual sex act. They also all agreed to film it. But it’s what they did afterwards that brought the police knocking on their doors.
They posted it on Twitter.
And everybody knows what happens to controversial pictures and movies that get posted on social media sites. They go viral. Instantly. And because the subject matter was a handful of underaged teens engaged in group sex, even if it was entirely consensual sex, it was a highly illegal video. According to the law, pictures and videos of minors under the age of consent engaging in sex is child porn.
Which is why these four Joliet teens are now facing very serious felony charges. Chief Benton explained the decision to press charges as follows. Teenagers having group sex is considered to be risky behavior. Posting a video of that act online where others can view it, share it and save it is a criminal offense.
Authorities have decided that by charging the five teens, the horror of their situation will serve as a warning to other teenagers in the area and around the country about the risks. Under Illinois law, what the five teens did counts as creating and distributing child pornography, which is considered to be a Class X felony.
Michigan law does not classify felonies in the same way that the state of Illinois does, however, regardless of where this took place, the consequences would be severe. Under Michigan law, the creation and distribution of child pornography are 20 and 7 year felonies, respectively. Under Illinois statutes possible punishments for this particular crime, when committed by juveniles, ranges from probation to being held in juvenile detention until the age of 21.
We would recommend, as attorneys who are also parents, that you discuss this incident with your teenaged children as tactfully as possible. Find out what their opinions are of the decisions made here. And talk to them about the consequences. This scenario is a tragic but critical example of the way impulsive choices can have lasting, and very awful, consequences.