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Virginia Police Drop Demand To Take Explicit Photos Of Minor Defendant In Sexting Case

Police and prosecutors in Prince William County, Virginia have announced they will not attempt to have sexually explicit photos taken of a 17 year-old Defendant in a sexting case currently pending in that county’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court:

Police say that they will no longer be pursuing efforts to take sexually explicit photos of the Virginia teen accused in a sexting case.

Prosecutors in Prince William County had told a judge they needed nude photos of Trey Sims, 17, in an aroused state, to compare against photos he allegedly sent to his then-girlfriend, who was 15 at the time, said lawyers for Sims.

Patty Prince, a spokesperson for the city of Manassas, confirmed Thursday afternoon that the search warrant will not be executed.

“When I found out about it, we determined we would not proceed,” said Manassas City Police Chief Douglas W. Keen.

Earlier Thursday, Manassas police said it’s not their policy to “authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature,” and that no such procedures had been conducted in the case.

However, the teen’s aunt told News4 that police had already taken nude photographs of the teen in an unaroused condition, a claim that Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert disputed.

“The allegations lack credibility,” Ebert said.

As I noted in my post about this matter yesterday, ordinarily we would not know the name of the Defendant in this case since it involves a minor. However, yesterday afternoon, Sims, along with his family and his attorney, decided to go public with the story, no doubt as a means of putting pressure on the prosecution to drop what I can only call an outrageous demand:

This is a good resolution to this particular issue, however the charges against Sims remain, as does the possibility that he could end up being branded a sex offender for life if convicted.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    I just wonder about the brains of someone who sends pictures of his or another person’s genitals anyway…

    He may not be branded as “sexual offender” for life, but “stupid derp” looks pretty likely.

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  2. @grumpy realist:

    Yes, teenagers are doing stupid things with technology. But I don’t think that the criminal justice system is the way to deal with it. most of them time.

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  3. Jim R says:

    @grumpy realist:

    He may not be branded as “sexual offender” for life, but “stupid derp” looks pretty likely.

    I agree…what does that make these cops, though?

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  4. Matt Bernius says:

    The sad issue with sexting is the fact that we now live in a world of digital abundance. And once these pictures get into circulation they are essentially impossible to remove. And whatever their original intent was, the are being circulated as child pornography.

    All of this gets us back to the stakes of that Supreme Court decision from earlier this year:
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/supreme-court-voids-3-4-million-restitution-award-to-child-pornography-victim/

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  5. Kinsey says:

    “Stupid derp” is a pretty good working definition for teenagers, though. Especially when they fancy themselves in lurve. Hormones + still-forming-brain-wiring = crap for judgment.

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  6. @Matt Bernius:

    Obviously, teenagers need to be taught the consequences of actions like this. I’m just not certain that criminal charges like this are the way to do it. The one fortunate thing for this Defendant is that the fact that the case is pending in J&DR Court means that the Judge will have some fairly broad discretion when it comes to what he might be convicted of and what the proper disposition should be. Assuming he has an otherwise clean record, there are a number of options that would essentially expunge his record after the passage of a certain period of time so that it doesn’t follow him around for the rest of his life.

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  7. Ionotter says:

    Anyone have the name of the prosecutor who put this before the judge?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

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  8. Matt Bernius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m just not certain that criminal charges like this are the way to do it.

    Totally agree. I was just noting the real problems that a digital ecosystem creates with these types of digital artifacts. I mean, I remember a friend (underage) who took polaroids of his (underage) girlfriend and himself in compromising positions and would proudly “flash” the (thankfully) out-of-focus and grainy results from time to time. So this isn’t new.

    But those images were easily (and hopefully) destroyed. That isn’t so easy any more.

    And so we have two different (at least) areas of highly charged law coming together.

    The one fortunate thing for this Defendant is that the fact that the case is pending in J&DR Court means that the Judge will have some fairly broad discretion when it comes to what he might be convicted of and what the proper disposition should be.

    Right. So then some of the sex offender requirements (if he was convicted) can go away when he turns 18?

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  9. @Matt Bernius:

    There are a number of alternatives, really. He could be found guilty under a statute that doesn’t require registration with the database, or he could be placed in any number of deferred action programs that would result in his record being completely expunged as long as he complies with certain requirements — typically something like counseling — and does not commit any other crimes during whatever time period the Judge might set.

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  10. @Matt Bernius: If he was transferred to (adult) Circuit Court and convicted for distribution or possession of child pornography, registration would be mandatory.

    Being adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court leaves it up to the judge to consider 7 different factors on whether to order him place on the Sex Offender Registry.

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  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Ionotter: Some warning might be due — Dan Savage Link:

    slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/07/09/claiborne-richardson-wants-pictures-of-a-kids-cock

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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