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15 May 2006 Is Dangerous to Teens

Unwary teens who post personal information on could well find themselves in serious jeopardy - from law enforcement officials. Since terrorism, racketeering, street gangs, car theft rings, embezzlement, and all other dangers to society are apparently now distant memories, police have taken to perusing web pages teens put up on to protect the public from this latest societal menace. The Boston Globe reports on the types of serious crimes being thwarted by these cyberage Joe Fridays:
Seventeen-year-old Ryan Zylstra of Michigan is facing three counts relating to child pornography and up to 20 years in prison based on a prank gone wrong. He allegedly posted a photo of two friends having sex -- a 16-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy...distributing sexually explicit images of minors under 18 is illegal under Michigan's child pornography laws. The prosecutor has offered Zylstra a chance to plead guilty to one of the charges, which carries a possible seven-year term; he has so far rejected the deal, his lawyer said.
Ok, you say, that takes care of dangerous fiends who post nude pictures of other teens, but what about equally dangerous teens who post their own nude pictures? Not to worry, Rhode Island authorities are on the case.
Three people in Rhode Island, two 16-year-old girls and one 19-year-old woman, face child pornography charges for allegedly posting sexually explicit pictures of themselves on MySpace.
Yes, the internet is indeed a fertile feeding ground for online predators looking for easy marks, but it looks like the predators young people should most fear might be police, prosecutors, and school officials. Here again we see the consequences of broadly written criminal statutes. We might think we're using them to lock-up the scum of society, but it's really just as easy - easier, really - to turn those laws right back on the average ordinary citizen who happens to make a mistake that catches the eye of an ambitious lawman.


Blogger C. Van Carter said...

Seven years. Nice. Here's some random googles:

"A city teenager will spend five years in state prison for choking a 15-year-old girl in a wooded area near Oakwood Cemetery last August and smashing her head repeatedly into a tree"

"Dent, 26, of Parkton, Md., was successful, but Monday in York County Common Pleas Court, he reinstated his pleas to two counts of sexual assault, four counts of indecent assault, five counts of corruption of minors and one count each of furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful contact with a minor.

According to court documents, Dent knew the girl he had sex with was 13 years old and that others he gave alcohol to were underage.

Judge Michael J. Brillhart accepted the pleas and sentenced Dent to four to eight years in prison."

May 15, 2006 11:26 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Sounds like the 'anarcho-tyranny' that Jerry Pournelle harps on.

May 15, 2006 11:36 PM  
Blogger Dennis Dale said...

You could see the hysteria brewing when Oprah picked up the issue a few months ago, about the time that annoying kid was enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame disingenuously revealing his "descent into the sordid world of online porn" (phrasing approximate but no doubt near-accurate); he got a NY Times feature and testimony before a congressional committee before he was done. No word yet on a Movie of the Week.
Now we'll have parents, apparently incapable of monitoring their kids online activity in their own homes, going to Washington demanding that the government do something about it.
Carter might be familiar with the case of an ambitious small town sheriff here in Yakima Wa. who seemed intent on jailing half his town for child molestation before it was revealed it all started with bogus charges, back when the panic was that satanic child porno rings were everywhere.

May 16, 2006 6:04 AM  
Blogger C. Van Carter said...

I remember that sad case, Dennis. A number of the falsely accused who were coerced into confessing were morons (literally, they had low IQs).

May 16, 2006 4:52 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

We generally rely on the police to coerce morons into confessing because this is how ~90% of crimes are solved. Unfortunately this method doesn't really work right when you get outside of street crimes with networks of low-level criminals who can snitch each other or have many other crimes they can be baited with. When they get outside this purview they are often incapable of solving the crime or they end up getting false confessions through what effectively amounts to torture.

May 17, 2006 8:35 AM  
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