Original post date: 03.07.2008
Two teen atheletes shared 10 second videos on cellphones – For that, one now faces having to leave home, go to jail, and be placed on the internet sex offender registry for at least 10 years….
My son is in the backyard right now, sitting around a campfire with some friends. The thought of him being restricted from our house sickens me….
My son has been charged with “Telephonic Dissemination of Obscene Material to a Minor”. He was an 18 year old high school senior when the charges were filed. The charges stem from a ten second cell phone video that was sent to another male high school senior who was 17 at the time (he sent the video on to others). Unfortunately, this type of behavior among high school students has become too common. My son was a well known athlete in town, and law enforcement has decided to make an example out of him in an attempt to curb such behavior. The local media coverage, propagated by local law enforcement, was incredible. The story was the lead story on all three local television stations, morning, noon, and night, for two days straight. It was devastating, and we literally put my son on a suicide watch.
Now, the county attorney has proposed a deal where my son pleads guilty to the aforementioned charge, and receives a deferred judgment. My son has never had as much as a speeding ticket, and has been a good citizen. In discussions with our attorney and the judge, the county attorney has indicated that my son is not really a sex offender and the judge has indicated that he would be inclined to go along with a deferred judgment.
Here’s where the Iowa sex offender laws come into play. Although my son would have no criminal record, he would be forced to register as a sex offender for the next ten years. The county attorney thought that my son would come off of the sex offender list once he had completed the terms of the deferred judgment. He is wrong.
This is a boy who has grown up in a day care (which my wife runs), who umpires youth baseball and softball, and who is very well liked in our very small hometown. He will be forced to move out of our house, and will not be allowed to visit. His college plans will be in serious jeopardy, and he will be branded and lumped in with truly dangerous criminals. Basically, his life will be destroyed, although no one in law enforcement believes that he is a threat at all.
I do not believe that the intent of this law was to punish high school kids that exchange inappropriate cell phone material, but rather to protect young children from adult criminals. However, the Iowa sex offender laws are such that there is zero flexibility or room for common sense.
My son’s court date is coming up. Given the extreme impact that the plea would have on his life, we have decided to try and fight the case in court.
Until my son’s ordeal, I too was naive to the injustices being caused by these ridiculous and wide ranging laws. They do not necessarily target the truly repulsive and dangerous criminals, and will result in many good people’s lives being ruined.
I have two younger children, one girl and one boy. Hence, protecting children from dangerous people is a concern that I share with all parents. However, these laws are being used for entirely different reasons, with devastating consequences.