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Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child – The Punishment Does not Fit the Crime

| Jun 25, 2014 | Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child |


Parts of this felony sexual crime sound nearly identical to Indecent Exposure, C.R.S. 18-7-302, a class one misdemeanor. Under Indecent Exposure law, the knowing exposure of one’s genitals to another (including to children), is prohibited. In the class four felony charge of Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child, C.R.S. 18-3-405.4, one subsection criminalizes any invitation to a child to view the actor’s intimate parts via a phone or computer network. Here, police will charge you with this felony if you send a picture of your intimate parts to a child under fifteen.

What Does this Crime Prohibit?

In a practical sense, this crime prohibits sending nude images or making an invitation for a child to send you a picture of their intimate parts by computer or cell phones. Many people feel they are totally anonymous when chatting on-line, so they violate societal boundaries by sending nude images of themselves, or ask for the same from others.

Less Serious Conduct, Worse Penalty

Our blog readers should see the ridiculous nature of the felony classification of Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child compared to Indecent Exposure. With Internet Sexual Exploitation, you will be charged with a class four felony (2-8 years prison) if you send a nude picture of yourself to a child under fifteen. However, if you walk up to that same child in-person, and show them your genitals, you will be charged with a class one misdemeanor (up to 24 months in the county jail). Lawmakers really missed the point this time. In an effort to appease sexual assault victim’s advocates, they have taken the less serious conduct of sending a nude picture over the internet, and made the crime much more serious than IN-PERSON exposure of one’s genitals. In-person sexual exposure presents a much greater risk of harm to children, in my opinion.

While committing Indecent Exposure, if a sex offender wanted to touch or force sexual contact upon a child, the easiest way to do this is to reach out and touch the child – who is in their presence. If the actor already has their clothes off, or genitals exposed, it is a short path to the completion of a sexual assault on a child. The person committing Indecent Exposure could win over the child with persuasive words, physically intimidate them by their size difference, or pressure them into sexual touch. Compare these risks to Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child, where an actor is not in the physical presence of a child and cannot touch a child under any circumstances. The actor might be across the country or in another part of the world. All the actor can do is to send a naked picture of themselves. The child must decide to open and view it. They cannot be touched or carried away. The potential harm to a child with Internet Sexual Exploitation is not nearly as great as with Indecent Exposure.

Penalties Should Match the Risk of Harm, Not Political Agendas

All across our country, men and women are facing tremendous felony consequences for minimally harmful conduct. Criminal penalties should match the crime as we endeavor to do in the rest of our Colorado criminal code. It makes no sense to classify the sending of a nude photograph to a child, without out more, a felony. In our sex crazed culture, all a child needs to do is type a short phrase into Google to see nude images. They are everywhere.

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Image courtesy of adamr /