Sex Crimes

A Brief Overview of Child Pornography Laws and Key Problems

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

The government has many reasons for criminalizing the production and distribution of child pornography. First, there is a compelling governmental interest in safeguarding the physical and psychological well being of minors. Second, the distribution of child pornography is intrinsically connected to the sexual abuse of children. Third, distribution of child pornography provides integral economic incentive for its production. Finally, there is little social value of reproductions of lewd sexual conduct of children. These were all reasons outlined in the landmark case of New York v. Ferber in which the Supreme Court established a constitutional foundation for criminalizing child pornography. 458 U.S. 747 (1982).

In addition to government interest in criminalizing child pornography, there is also a public interest. Tragedies involving children are usually gruesome and highly publicized. This commonly leads to greater public outrage and swifter government action. Congress has had little trouble passing legislation against child pornography due to the high levels of public support.


The Seventh Circuit’s Interpretation of “Sexual Activity”

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Due to recent case law developments, whether or not a person will face a minimum 10-year sentence for attempted sexual enticement of a minor depends on how his jurisdiction chooses to define two words: sexual activity. As of now, at least two circuits have chosen vastly different definitions. With the increase of internet related crimes, this question is becoming more and more common. It is likely that until the Supreme Court or Congress sets the record straight, circuits will continue to struggle with how to define this term. This article focuses the Seventh Circuit, which has defined “sexual activity” as requiring physical contact.

Under federal law, child enticement is codified under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). This statute prohibits using interstate commerce to coerce a person under the age of eighteen to engage in any illegal “sexual activity” or to attempt to arrange such an encounter. Those found in violation of §2422(b) “shall be fined . . . and imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life.” In order to charge someone under § 2422(b), federal prosecutors must also bring a charge under a state or federal statute that criminalizes “sexual activity” in order to establish the federal offense. This, however, has become difficult for prosecutors to navigate, as it has come to light that Congress has not
defined “sexual activity” within the meaning of § 2422(b).


The Court of Public Opinion: the Defense of Sexual Misconduct charges against Women

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Recently Sarah Jones has been in the spotlight because of accusations of sexual misconduct. Jones was a teacher in Kentucky while also a professional football cheerleader for the Bengals. She was accused of sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old student while in a position of authority over him. She had been in the media before, when a website ( slandered her name, saying she had had sex with all members of the Bengals Football team. Eventually Jones’ plead to a lesser charge, giving up her fight prematurely, likely in part because of the mainstream view of her as a sex kitten. In looking only at the public facts of the case, it can be called into question whether or not Jones’ was in a direct position of authority over the victim at the time the alleged crime was committed.

The public is always quick to judge the accused, but the case seems more severe for a teacher. The public has easy access to photos of Jones dressed in a provocative way: in her Bengal’s cheerleader uniform which emphasizes her cleavage and her toned mid-section. When the public sees a woman dressed in such a way who is in a position of authority over children, they immediately assume guilt without asking for any more information. In Sarah Jones’ case, it has even led to jokes that she is the “female Sandusky,” which she vehemently denies. When public opinion is stacked so hard against you, it can make a case seem impossible to win. In Sarah Jones’ case, it meant pleading to a lesser charge because both the victim and the victim’s family denied she had done anything wrong. When the media takes control of the story, it never allows for the accused to speak out in their own defense. If this has happened to you, understand that you are not alone and your case can be won. Look for a lawyer who is not afraid to take your case to trial and who will stand up for your side of the story.



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