Michigan Man Faces Child Porn Prosecution for Digitally Altering Lewd Music Video

March 14, 2011 by David S. Seltzer

Last week, I wrote a blog post about the different ways federal law and Florida state law handle cases of child pornography created by computers rather than in-person exploitation of children. So as a child porn attorney, I was very interested to see a New York Times article March 7 about a man in Michigan who is being prosecuted for a related offense that some say was not even a crime. According to the article, 21-year-old Evan Emory is charged with manufacturing and distributing child pornography because he digitally altered a video of himself giving a concert to schoolchildren, making it seem as if he was singing graphic sexual lyrics to the children even though in reality, he was singing age-appropriate songs. Emory was expected to plead no contest to a lesser charge March 14, to avoid a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and 25 years of sex offender registration.

No actual sex was depicted in the video and no children heard the dirty song. After Emory finished the clean version of his performance at the school, he and a friend taped the dirty version. He showed the video at a performance in mid-February and also uploaded it to YouTube. Nonetheless, the Times reported that the case has divided neighbors in the town of Muskegon, where complaints from parents triggered Emory’s arrest. Parents are upset that their children are easily identifiable in the sexually themed video. Emory, meanwhile, has been treated like anyone else accused of a child pornography crime: he has been suspended from his job, was jailed, and had his computer and phone seized and searched. (No child pornography was found.) His father has left the state to look for work to pay legal bills, and his mother has avoided leaving the house except to work after she was chased and photographed by angry parents. A few parents have also experienced a backlash from Emory’s supporters.

As a child porn lawyer, I’m not at all surprised that this case has upset so many people in Muskegon. Child pornography charges trigger strong feelings, which means people who are accused typically face personal and social consequences long before they can be convicted or acquitted — often before they’re formally charged. The social backlash against Emory’s mother and the suspension from his job are both unfortunately common. However, I am surprised that prosecutors in Muskegon County felt that a dirty song was strong enough evidence to support a child pornography prosecution. Not only were no children harmed in the making of this video, but it would be difficult to argue that the video is any kind of pornography, as the term is generally understood. It’s understandable that Emory is choosing to plead no contest to a lesser charge, given the life-altering consequences he faces if convicted and the cost of defending himself. But as a child pornography attorney, I believe he’d have a strong case if he chose to fight the charges instead.

If you’re facing steep charges for a child pornography crime, don’t wait to contact the experienced defense lawyers at Seltzer Law, P.A. for help. To set up a free consultation, send us a message online or call 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) today.