What began as playful correspondence with his girlfriend could land a 17-year-old student prison time and registry as a sex offender. North Carolina police arrested two teenaged Fayetteville residents, a boy and his girlfriend when they discovered explicit pictures of each other on their phones.
The boy, a high school football player entering his senior year, could potentially have his life ruined for engaging in the growing trend of teenage sexting.
He is being tried as an adult for possessing pictures of a minor — he and his girlfriend, when they were 16 years old, less than a year ago. His girlfriend is on a yearlong probation after accepting a plea deal.
The offending pictures were taken October 2014 while the young man was attending Douglas Byrd High School.
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It is unclear how and why police came to search the teenagers’ phones. There had never been a search warrant issued, reports the Fayetteville Observer.
North Carolina has some of the strictest laws in the country when it comes to teen sexting, ABC11 reports. While the age of consent in North Carolina is 16, sharing sexually explicit photos through a cellphone is illegal for anyone under 18.
“Simple possession having it on your cellphone is a charge itself,” says Sgt. Sean Swain of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. “And if you should send it out to another person, that is another charge.”
The boy and his girlfriend were 16 when the investigation into their photos began.
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Detective Fiona Miranda of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office made the arrest. She put in a good word for the teenaged boy. In her documents, she describes him as a “good student and athlete with a supportive family,” and recommends that he be released. Clearly, the courts ignored her recommendation.
The boy and his girlfriend are hardly the only teenagers flirting through sexually explicit photos. Teens 17 and younger lead the nation in swapping nude photos with 28 percent, reports the Fayette Observer.
At his new school, Jack Britt High, the boy played as starting quarterback at the first game of the season on Aug. 21. He has since been suspended from the team after school officials were made aware of his ongoing legal situation. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 30.