CLIFTON, N.J. – An unidentified 14-year-old girl, arrested on March 25 for posting nearly 30 nude pictures of herself on her MySpace page, has now been sentenced to a term of probation, and as a condition of that probation, must undergo six months of counseling and avoid any other run-ins with law enforcement.
The girl, who reportedly posted the photos to attract the attention of her boyfriend, was originally charged with several counts of possession and distribution of child pornography, even though the photos were of herself and no one else.
The photos were originally discovered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which tipped off a New Jersey state task force, which in turn alerted the Passaic County Sheriff's Office, who arrested the girl.
According to press reports at the time, the American Civil Liberties Union had asked a federal judge to block the state from filing the child porn charges.
"Teenagers need to know that there are serious consequences for sharing risqué or compromising pictures of themselves," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey ACLU, "but trying to teach that lesson with heavy artillery like child-pornography charges — which can have lifelong consequences — is uncalled for. Who does it protect?"
The girl, if convicted of the offenses, would have been required to register with law enforcement as a sex offender. However, the mother of the little girl whose death inspired "Megan's Law," which requires sex offenders to register and governments to inform neighbors of the presence of a sex offender living in their area, had opposed charging the girl with any crime.
Maureen Kanka told the Associated Press that authorities should "be ashamed of themselves" for charging the Clifton teen with any offense.
Constitutional law professor Seth Kreimer agreed.
"To deploy the nuclear weapon of child pornography charges shows almost as bad judgment as posting the nude photos themselves," Kreimer assessed.
But state Attorney General Anne Milgram, whose office agreed to the term of probation, warned parents to be aware of what their children were posting on social networking sites – if they can.
"Unfortunately, youth don't have the same judgment as adults," Milgram told The Trentonian, "and often, adults don't have the same technical savvy as the youth."