A Virginia judge has determined that a police officer violated a teenager's Fourth Amendment rights by forcing him to make his penis erect for a photo.
The judge issued the ruling on Dec. 5, reports the Daily Mail.
The complicated case originated in 2014, when 17-year-old Trey Sims received nude photos of his 15-year-old girlfriend, who had texted them to him.
In response, Sims sent her "an explicit video of himself via his cell phone," according to his attorney Victor M. Glasberg.
The girlfriend's mother discovered the video and reported Sims to the police, who charged him with manufacturing and distributing child pornography. The girlfriend was never charged.
Sims was arrested and placed under home confinement in January 2014. He was allowed to leave home only to go to school and back, and was prohibited from using his cellphone or social media.
In May 2016, Sims, now 20, filed a federal civil rights suit alleging that Detective David E Abbott, Jr., had violated his rights by taking pictures of his penis, allegedly to compare with the graphic images on his girlfriend's phone.
According to court documents released on Dec. 5, Fourth Circuit Judge Barbara Keenan wrote that Abbott obtained a search warrant authorizing photographs of Sims' "naked body, including his erect penis."
Abbott also obtained a second search warrant the day after Sims was arraigned on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography.
According to the documents, Abbott told Sims that if he could not achieve an erection, he would be taken "to a hospital to give him an erection-producing injection."
However, the Manassas City Police Department prevented the warrant from being executed, on the grounds that department policy did not allow "invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature."
Abbott was "simply gratifying his own perverse pleasures" by photographing Sims, alleged Glasberg.
After being accused of molesting two young boys in an unrelated case, Abbott committed suicide in 2015, a year before Sims filed suit.
Sims then filed the lawsuit against Kenneth Labowitz, the administrator of Abbott's estate, and Claiborne Richardson II, the assistant attorney who instructed Abbott to get the warrant.
Shortly after Sims filed the suit, a district court dismissed it, determining that Labowitz was entitled to qualified immunity.
Sims, in turn, appealed the decision, and Dec. 5 the U.S. Court of Appeals announced its decision to reverse the district court's decision.
Court documents stated: "Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Sims, a reasonable police officer would have known that attempting to obtain a photograph of a minor child's erect penis, by ordering the child to masturbate in the presence of others, would unlawfully invade the child's right of privacy under the Fourth Amendment."
Labowitz argued that Abbott did not violate Sims' Fourth Amendment rights, on grounds that Sims was not physically harmed, and because the search did not physically invade Sims' body.
But the appeals court disagreed, stating: "We cannot perceive any circumstance that would justify a police search requiring an individual to masturbate in the presence of others."
"A reasonable police officer would have known that attempting to obtain a photograph of a minor child's erect penis, by ordering the child to masturbate in the presence of others, would unlawfully invade the child's right of privacy under the Fourth Amendment," the court declared, reports Inquisitr.