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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Virginia ACLU Questions Validity of Massive Child Pornography Investigation in Louisa

 
Personally, I’m not surprised a questionable sex crime investigation/seizure of property from this county has caught the attention of the ACLU-VA. 

Louisa County Commonwealths Attorney is Rusty McGuire .   

Mr. McGuire, for those of you who aren’t familiar with him is connected with (might have founded) the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), demanded the Virginia anti-sodomy law be upheld otherwise along with former A.G. Cuccinelli because all of Mr. McGuire’s past convictions would possibly fall apart, plus his yearly lobbying partnership with Camille Cooper of PROTECT for more ICAC funding, victim restitution (both state and federal), eliminating the statute of limitations both civil and criminal, increasing court fees for defendants to fund more sexual crime task forces and sting operations plus lowering the bar for evidence, burden of proof  and guilt in sexual cases while raising the penalty. They also both attend speaking engagements across the state on child pornography. Every biography and article you find references Mr. McGuire's personal mission to lock up "sexual predators" and "sex offenders" for as long as possible.

In was just a matter of time before Louisa Co. swept up minor aged teenagers as child pornographers who are now being considered for prosecution.  

Juveniles across the Commonwealth take, send and receive sexual images of friends, classmates and teammates daily, it’s what teens do today, unfortunately. But it should not be a criminal offense with a mandatory minimum prison term and a lifetime as a registered sex offender. Such a fate is not productive for the state or for the juvenile and neither is the looming threat of prosecution while the Commonwealth Attorney mulls over filing charges or not filing charges for this behavior. While they wait to learn their fate one of them might give up waiting on the Prosecutor to make a decision while others released information to the media like Christian Adamek of Alabama did back in October 2013 hanging himself out of fear of being a registered sex offender. 

Louisa may think this is a “teachable moment” for the Louisa, Hanover and Goochland teens but having this investigation/seizure in the news is much, much more. 

This is where a conflict of interest that should never be allowed shows how state employees/department are allowed to double-dip in Virginia. They control the laws being written, they apply the laws as they see fit or not and they get the laws amended and funded when they decide. Do we wind up with a fair, balanced or just playing field? Not at all and that’s how they want it.

We have a Prosecutor (Commonwealth’s Attorney) who has the ability to file charges or not, who prosecutes defendants in a court of law, who has the authority to withhold discovery, who has a large hand in the Southern ICAC which operates “stings” to entrap people, who lobbies for more ICAC funding, for mandatory minimums (giving Prosecutors the upper hand), for the elimination of statutes of limitations (Prosecutors can take a case 20, 30 or 40 years after the fact), for harsher punishments (more plea bargaining for the Prosecutors) and for lowering the burden of proof (guaranteeing a conviction for the Prosecution) all alongside of a national child abuse organization PROTECT so it doesn’t look like he’s lobbying to benefit his office, his employees and to maintain not only a high conviction rate but a yearly increase of perpetrators, all under the guise of protecting the children. Who is going to argue?
How about the 100 children currently being considered child pornographers?  
 
Mary

ACLU questions validity of massive child pornography investigation in Louisa, April 4, 2014

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - The American Civil Liberties Union is speaking out, saying it's concerned with how police are handling a massive child porn investigation in Central Virginia. 

NBC12 was the first to tell you that authorities are looking into more than one thousand inappropriate pictures and videos posted online involving teens in Louisa, Hanover and Goochland. 

The ACLU goes as far to say that minors have the constitutional right to take nude photos of themselves and send it to most whomever they chose. While, according to investigators, they're trying to save these teens from committing crimes that will forever mar their record. 

More than one hundred children and teens are allegedly involved in the scandal spanning at least three jurisdictions.
 
As part of their investigation, Louisa investigators say more than a dozen cell phones were confiscated. 
 

 
"Do they have probable cause for each one of those seizures?" Asked Claire Gastanaga, Executive Director of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU. "A cell phone is a piece of property just like your house or your car. The police don't get to search it unless you give them permission and you're not required to give them permission unless they get warrant."

Gastanaga says, she saw NBC12's report and questions the validity of the police investigation. She believes minors have a constitutional right to take a picture of themselves however they want and send it to most whomever they want. 

"We think that's protected by the First Amendment as an expressive activity," she said. 

Louisa police are investigating an Instagram account that directs teens to a third party site they can only access if they submit nude photos of themselves. 

Under federal and state law, if a minor takes a "naked selfie," it's considered manufacturing child pornography. If the minor sends it, that's distribution. 

The recipient of that photo could be charged with possession of child pornography, even if they're underage. 

Louisa police say, they're enforcing the law and trying to protect these children from themselves. 

To that Gastanaga says, "We want to protect children but protecting children at the expense of their constitutional rights that's not protecting children." 

Louisa police tell NBC12 it's doubtful any charges will come from this investigation and that no adults are involved. Still, investigators say, they want to teach these teens what they've allegedly done is serious business and illegal.