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The story of the two teens caught in a terrifying legal morass has also made headlines as far away as Russia.Meanwhile, local officials have begun blaming one another for the bizarre prosecution.Denson, meanwhile, was charged with two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor: one for taking a nude selfie and another for sending it to Copening.The felony charges meant that Copening faced up to 10 years in prison, if convicted; Denson faced up to four.“We’ve got too much big crime in this community to put this kind of effort into wrecking two kids’ lives,” wrote the Fayetteville Observer’s editorial board, recommending the statutes be amended.“This should never happen again to anyone.” Legal scholars lined up to pick apart the prosecution’s case.What they did find, however, were consensually taken nude photos of Copening and his girlfriend, Brianna Denson, also 16 at the time.(The Post is using the teenagers’ names because they have been charged as adults.
That question is one of many conundrums in the recent case of a teenage North Carolina couple charged with making and distributing child pornography.Their alleged crime: snapping and sending nude photos — of themselves.The case has drawn fierce criticism from legal scholars around the country, many of whom see it as an egregious misuse of laws intended to protect — not prosecute — minors.“I don’t think it should be a criminal offense where there is no victim.” “You’re talking about millions of kids being charged with child pornography” if the law were applied nationwide, psychologist Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch told the Fayette Observer. “It’s ludicrous,” Fred Lane, a computer security and privacy expert, told the Guardian. It’s an overreach.” He explained that such laws stem from the 1983 Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on child porn, but that many state laws were woefully outdated in our current era of cellphones and texting.But Mary Anne Franks, the University of Miami law professor, said the issue is simpler still: It’s all about consent.