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14-year-old sends her crush an explicit snap – and now faces child porn charges

The 14-year-old could wind up having to register as a sex offender, the ACLU says.

Teenagers sext. 

That's generally whatresearchhasdetermined – it happens, it's not uncommon.

One study found more than half of its respondents sent explicit messages while under 18 years old; and 28 percent included a photo.

But a Minnesota 14-year-old who Snapped an explicit selfie to a boy at her school could be forced to register as a sex offender because of criminal charges filed against her, the ACLU of Minnesota said.

What happened

The girl (not identified because she's a minor) goes to school in Rice County. She had a crush on a classmate, sent him an explicit snap – and he shared it with others.

According to the ACLU, the girl has now been charged with distributing child porn based on these state statutes.

“I’m not a criminal for taking a selfie,” the teen said in the ACLU's news release. “Sexting is common among teens at my school, and we shouldn’t face charges for doing it. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’m going through."

It's a felony that carries a punishment of up to seven years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, and potentially having to register as a sex offender for 10 years after the case is over – even if she pleads to a lesser criminal charge.

If the case goes forward and she's found guilty, it could have a crippling effect on "her entire future — her housing, college, employment, and more," the ACLU argued.

It's an 'absurd interpretation' of the law

The advocacy group filed a brief on her behalf, saying the charges should be dropped because it's an "absurd interpretation" of state law. 

The ACLU points out the statute is specifically meant to protect minors from the possible damage caused by child porn – and in this case, the teenager sent it voluntarily. It was her choice to send an image of her body to one person.

“To suggest that a juvenile who sends a sexually explicit selfie is a victim of her own act of child pornography is illogical,” Teresa Nelson, legal director of the ACLU of Minnesota, said in a statement. “Child pornography laws are supposed to protect minors from predators, and Jane Doe is not a predator.”

Rice County Attorney John Fossum confirmed the existence of the case to MPR, but couldn't comment because the case involves a minor.

According to the ACLU, the case could go to trial this winter if the charges aren't dropped.

Said the girl's father in the ACLU's release: “What my daughter went through at school with the other students was really rough, and when we found out she was also facing criminal charges my first thought was, ‘Why are we victimizing the victim?’"

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