A Tale of Double Standards

A North Carolina teen faces felony charges for sending nude photos of himself:

Unfortunately, that’s the Kafka-esque nightmare in which Fayetteville-area high schooler Cormega Copening finds himself after exchanging private nude photos with his girlfriend—with whom he is legally allowed to have sex, but not to sext. […] But first, to recap: Copening and his girlfriend—now identified as Brianna Denson—are like other teenagers in that they have more than a passing interest in sex. Indeed, when they were 16, they exchanged racy sexy photos via text message. Denson sent pictures to Copening, and Copening sent pictures to Denson. It appears that no one else saw the pictures until local authorities searched Copening’s phone and discovered them.

The article notes that it is unclear how or why police searched Copening’s phone. There is no record of a search warrant for the boy’s phone.

As the article notes, both Denson and Copening were charged with sexual exploitation, but Denson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received 12 months of probation. Copening still faces two counts of second-degree exploitation and three counts of third-degree exploitation. The latter charges stem from the photos that Copening had of himself.

It is an absurd notion that Copening exploited himself by taking nude pictures of himself. This would be akin of charging him with felony child sexual assault because he masturbated. As the author of the article posits:

The implication is clear: Copening does not own himself, from the standpoint of the law, and is not free to keep sexually-provocative pictures, even if they depict his own body.

If that were not bad enough, prosecutors charged Copening as an adult. He faces up to 10 years in adult prison for possessing nude photos of himself.

In contrast, a 19-year-woman who specifically sought out “images of child abuse” received a suspended sentence:

Chloe Dunn received ‘sick and perverted’ indecent moving images involving youngsters aged under five after she messaged an older man and said that she wanted to see images of child abuse.

The 19-year-old went on to engage in explicit online exchanges with Sheldon Bateson, 29, from Nelson, Lancashire, in which they referred to wanting to have sex with children.

Bateson was jailed for three years and four months after he pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to distributing and possessing indecent images.

But Dunn, who admitted receiving some of the images, was handed a suspended sentence after Judge Beverley Lunt ruled it was ‘not appropriate’ to send her to immediate custody.

The judge went on to site Dunn’s “previous good character and her immaturity” as factors in the decision, as well as stating that Dunn did not know the age of the children in the video, presumably because that knowledge somehow mitigates a person deliberately seeking out child porn.

The judge issued the following punishment:

Judge Lunt told a tearful Dunn: ‘You would be extremely vulnerable in a custodial setting, even for a relatively short period. I am entirely satisfied it is not appropriate to send you to prison today.’

Dunn, of Eastern Road, received an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register. She was also told to attend a Women’s Programme, described by the Ministry of Justice as a ‘cognitive and motivational programme’.

To be clear, Dunn specifically asked for the images:

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said the pair exchanged messages via the WhatsApp service in April 2014 in which Dunn asked Bateson: ‘Have you got any videos?’

Bateson replied: ‘What?’, the court heard.

Dunn went on: ‘You know what.’

Bateson said: ‘Tell me.’

Dunn said: ‘Kids.’

The male defendant sent her six moving images, classed in the most serious category of indecent images, of young children being raped by adults.

Mr Parker said the pair went on to chat online about their desire to meet in person and have sex with children.

This is not an instance of someone receiving random images. Again, Dunn not only asked for them, she proceeded to engage in explicit conversations about having sex with children. How no one found these exchanges symptomatic of pedophilia is astounding.Yet how a judge could hear this and decide the best course of action was to allow this woman to walk without any real punishment makes no sense.

So let us observe the contrast: a 16-year-old boy takes nude pictures of himself and now faces 10 years in prison, while a 19-year-woman purposefully seeks out child pornography and discusses wanting to rape children and receives a suspended sentence.

Nothing better illustrates society’s double standard when it comes to sex crimes.

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