Criminal Justice

8th Circuit rejects argument to dismiss federal child pornography indictment involving morphed image

A child pornography distribution indictment stands for a Nebraska man who digitally edited a photo of a naked adult woman having sex, replaced her face with that of an 11-year-old girl and sent the girl the photo.

Jeffrey Anderson, who entered a conditional guilty plea for one count of distributing child pornography, received a 10-year sentence, the Associated Press reports. According to the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion (PDF), the girl is Anderson’s half-sister.

Published July 17, the opinion rejected Anderson’s motion to dismiss, which argued that his action amounted to private distribution of a morphed image and that federal child pornography laws are unconstitutionally overbroad as applied to his case.

The “harm a child suffers from appearing as the purported subject of pornography in a digital image that is distributed via the Internet can implicate a compelling government interest regardless of the image’s verisimilitude or the initial size of its audience,” Judge Steven M. Colloton wrote for the panel.

According to the opinion, Anderson sent his half-sister “unsolicited, sexually explicit” messages and images on Facebook, from an account he registered under the name Bob Shepherd. The girl’s mother contacted police. An investigator using the girl’s Facebook account received another image from Anderson, which featured the digitally edited photo with her face.

“Anderson transmitted the image to M.A.’s account with a caption that said in substance: ‘This is what we will do,’ “ the opinion notes. During an interview with law enforcement officers, Anderson admitted to creating and sending the image to the girl’s Facebook account, the opinion states.

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