An 18-year-old Iowa high school senior was charged with a sex crime in Iowa for sending a 17-year-old friend a cell phone video showing the senior fooling around with his teenage girlfriend, according to the Des Moines Register.
The 10-second video showed the senior, then 17, involved in a reported sex act with his then 16-year-old girlfriend. The senior later forwarded it to his friend because he was seeking revenge against his ex, according to his dad. The video of him with his pants down quickly spread through the neighborhood.
It’s illegal to send sexual cell phone pictures or video to anyone under the age of 18, but the charge—telephone dissemination of obscene material to a minor—would have been the first of its kind for an Iowa teen. With increasing cell phone technology, prosecutors said they expect to see more cases in the future.
The teen pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, but the idea that he could have been slapped with a sex crime has raised concerns about Iowa’s sex offender law.
If he would have been convicted of the sex crime, the senior could have been sentenced to up to 2 years in jail. Moreover, he would’ve been required to register as a sex offender—a consequence that could affect him for the rest of his life.
Instead, the senior pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree harassment. The plea-bargain deal states he must spend 20 days in jail, complete 100 hours of community service and pay $300 in fines.
Republican leader of the Iowa House, State Rep. Christopher Rants, said what the senior did was wrong but the punishment in the current law is too harsh on teens.
He told the newspaper that, “We’re not talking about being soft on sexual predators, we’re talking about making sure the law works for real families and real situations.”
The father of the senior has contacted legislators to pressure them to revise the Iowa law on the telephone dissemination charge so it doesn’t force teens who violate it to file as registered sex offenders.