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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Can a girl sexually abuse herself?

That's the question asked by Tracy Clark-Flory in column for salon.com (at http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2008/10/11/child_porn/index.html) She writes:

This is unbelievable: A 15-year-old Ohio girl currently faces juvenile child pornography charges for allegedly taking and distributing nude photos of herself.

After Licking Valley High School officials discovered the photos on the girl's phone and tipped off police last Friday, she was arrested, held in jail over the weekend and charged with possession of criminal tools and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, ABC reports. If convicted, she could spend several years in juvenile detention and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next 20 years of her life (although, since she is a first-time offender and a minor, the judge could decide against making her register).

What's more, charges might still be filed against the students who received the photos, regardless of whether they received them unwillingly. State law holds that "anyone possessing material that shows a minor in a state of nudity is guilty of a fifth-degree felony," according to the Newark Advocate. If convicted, they could face registration as a sex offender for 10 years....

[C]alling this girl a sex offender for distributing pornographic images of herself is crazy-talk. We have to acknowledge that, however unprepared she was to make the decision, she does have ownership over her own body; her sexual choice is not the same as an adult making a sexual choice for her.

I'm as outraged as Clark-Flory is, and I've written the prosecutor. His name is Kenneth Oswalt and he can be contacted at:

Licking County Prosecutor's Office
20 S. Second St, Newark, Ohio 43055
Hours of Operation (M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
General Telephone number: (740) 670-5255 - Fax 740-670-5241

Eric Hamell

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