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Cops Force Teen To Masturbate
Quote:I cannot imagine what it must be like as an appellate court judge to have to write these words (h/t Brad Heath):

Quote:Construing the facts in the light most favorable to [Trey] 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.

I don't know which is sadder: the fact that this case -- the absolute nadir (so far!) of stupid teen sexting prosecutions -- even exists or that the lower court somehow found in favor of the officer (now deceased) being sued.

A cop engaged in the act of producing child pornography by attempting to force a teen to arouse himself while surrounded by police officers supposedly for the purpose of matching the teen's erect penis to photos the cop already had in his possession as part of a sexting "investigation." The officer was told by prosecutors to do this, which shows the twisted logic of this abhorrent request didn't spring entirely from the mind of Detective David Abbott. He, however, did not turn down the prosecution's request. The prosecutor who ordered this "production" of evidence was Claiborne Richardson. Unfortunately, he has the sort of immunity cops like Abbott can only wish they had: absolute immunity. Richardson walks away from this with little more than reputational damage.

There's a judge out there somewhere with their name scrawled across a granted warrant request ordering a teenager to produce an erection for cops. Actually, there's two of them, though both go unnamed in the decision [PDF]. (Oral arguments are embedded at the bottom of the post.) From the dissent's[!] footnote:

Quote:On this record, search warrants were issued on June 3, 2014, and again on July 1, 2014, by two different magistrates. See Supp. J.A. 72, 76. The June warrant was the only one executed. In executing the June warrant, Abbott was unable to obtain some of the photos being sought. Because the prosecutor and the detective agreed that additional photos were necessary, Abbott was directed to seek the July warrant. That warrant was never executed and was voided.

And there's the judge who heard the prosecution's request to get this warrant and said that was fine. That judge's name is Jan Roltsch-Anoll. All of these justice system components worked together to put a teen in a room full of cops with the instructions to masturbate so a detective could take photos.

Abbott's representation was willing to take a chance on seeing the lower court's awful immunity decision upheld, despite there being nothing remotely sane -- much less Fourth Amendment-compliant -- about law enforcement's actions. Detective Abbott's survivors continue his fight for him as Abbott killed himself in late 2015 as police tried to arrest him for allegedly molesting two teens he met coaching youth hockey. (Make of that what you will.)

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals finds nothing at all to like about Abbott's pleas for qualified immunity.

Quote:Abbott’s search directed at forcing Sims to achieve an erection intruded “upon an area in which our society recognizes a significantly heightened privacy interest.” See Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753, 767 (1985). Requiring Sims to masturbate in the presence of others, like searches involving physical penetration of genitalia, constituted “the ultimate invasion of personal dignity.” Amaechi, 237 F.3d at 363-64; see also King, 825 F.3d at 215.

Moreover, we observe that this sexually intrusive search was rendered more egregious by being conducted in a manner that would instill fear in Sims. See Edwards, 666 F.3d at 884-85. Here, Sims alleged that he was “surrounded” by three armed officers as he questioned whether he was required to submit to Abbott’s orders. Upon Abbott’s insistence, Sims ultimately attempted to comply. Sims further alleged that the search caused him to suffer emotional harm. Winston, 470 U.S. at 761-63 (explaining that intrusions without risk of physical harm nonetheless damage the individual’s sense of personal privacy and security). Accordingly, both the outrageous scope of the sexually intrusive search and the intimidating manner in which the search was conducted weigh strongly against any finding that the search was reasonable.


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