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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Shutterstock/Elena Rostunova
# North Carolina
An American teenager has barely escaped prosecution for sexually exploiting... himself
The 17-year-old and his girlfriend have been caught in an anti-’sexting’ crossfire.

A 17-YEAR-OLD American male is being prosecuted by his state for possessing naked photos on his phone – of himself.

The boy in question, Cormega Copening, is being named as both the accused and victim in the highly unusual case – as he was only 16 at the time the photos were taken. In effect he stood accused of committing a sexual offence against himself.

The case first came to light as a result of a clampdown on the sharing of sexual images without the subject’s consent in the boy’s high school in Fayetteville, North Carolina, according to a report in the Fayetteville Observer.

His phone was investigated by police as a part of that clampdown, and though he was found blameless as part of that inquiry, he has ended up being prosecuted separately with four counts of quite literally exploiting himself.

Both Copening and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Brianna Denson, with whom he had been exchanging the selfies, have taken plea deals to prevent themselves going to prison and having to register as sex offenders.

shutterstock_270477590 Shutterstock / Thomas Zsebok Shutterstock / Thomas Zsebok / Thomas Zsebok

“You’re talking about millions of kids being charged with child pornography,” Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch told the Fayetteville Observer with regard to these standards being applied across the US.

Our resources should be more on education and not on punishment with this type of sexting, more education with respect to actual sexual behavior, and more importantly – I can’t say this enough – is more information on healthy relationships and what healthy relationships look like with adolescents.

Ironically, if the couple had been found actually having sex they would have committed no crime, as consensual sex between 16-year-olds in North Carolina is not an offence, but possessing sexual images of a minor is.

The plea bargains Copening and Denson took are also quite draconian, with both teens surrendering their phones for one year and having to take courses on good decision-making as well as performing community service.

The couple may also be subject to warrantless searches for the next year.

Assuming they stay out of trouble for that year their records will be wiped clean.

Copening was the starting quarter back for his school’s American Football team, a position he lost in the aftermath of criminal charges being made against him.

He has since been re-instated in the team.

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