Bizarre Virginia Teenage Sexting Case Raises Questions about Police Behavior

July 16, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

Florida residents who face unfounded child pornography charges may sympathize with the case of a Virginia teenager whose recent arrest raised significant questions about the lengths to which law enforcement officials may go to obtain a conviction.

The story involves a young couple – a 15-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy – living in Virginia. The girl sent a “sext” to her boyfriend, to which he allegedly responded with an explicit video. When the girl’s mother discovered the video, she went to the police.

Manassas County police arrested the boy and took pictures of his genitals for evidence. His lawyer, Jessica Harben Foster, says Commonwealth Prince William County assistant attorney also pressured the boy to plead guilty. If he did not do so, Foster claims, police would have issued a warrant requiring the boy to provide a photo of his erect penis.

How would authorities accomplish such a task? According to Foster, the police would take the boy to the hospital, “give him a shot” to produce an erection, and obtain the photographs. The boy refused to plead guilty, and the court issued the search warrant.

Carlos Flores Laboy, the guardian of the accused, expressed outrage at the seeming hypocrisy of the Manassas County police. In their attempt to enforce a statute that protects children from sexual exploitation, Laboy asserts, law enforcement officials are engaging in exploitative behavior themselves.

The Commonwealth’s attorney, Paul Ebert, disputes the defense’s claims regarding how the police handled the case. Ongoing investigations and an upcoming court date will likely provide additional insight.

In our next post, we will discuss the precedent that exists for cases such as these, as well as their implications for individuals in consenting relationships.

Sexting, video messages, and other seemingly innocuous activities can spell trouble, regardless of whether the recipient is willing to receive them. If you are facing cybercrime charges in Florida, call Seltzer Law today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to begin your legal defense.