Constitutional Law

Fed'l Judge in Pa. Backs ACLU, Bars DA from Charging Teens for 'Sexting'


Siding with the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge in Pennsylvania has barred the Wyoming County District Attorney from pursuing threatened felony charges against teenage girls he has accused of sending explicit photographs over their cell phones.

The controversial case over so-called sexting was filed by the ACLU in federal court in Scranton, along with the parents of three girls. They contend that photographs of the girls are not pornographic and are protected under the First Amendment. Today U.S. District Judge James Munley issued a temporary injunction barring DA George Skumanick Jr. from pursuing criminal charges against the three teens, reports the Times-Tribune in a breaking story.

One of the photos at issue showed girls, from the waist up, wearing bras. The third shows the a teen girl topless, wearing a towel from the waist down, after stepping out of the shower, the Associated Press reported.

Skumanick, who says he is looking out for the teens’ best interests and has done nothing wrong, offered them a chance to participate in an after-school education program on pornography and sexual violence in exchange for dropping potential criminal cases. However, the teens, their parents and the ACLU contend that the teens’ First and Fourth Amendment rights are violated by the threatened prosecution.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “‘Sexting’ Cases Put Pa. Prosecutor on ACLU’s Litigation List”

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