In the WPXI story, which included contributions from the Associated Press, Saranko indicated that authorities decided to file the child pornography charges to send a strong message to other minors who might consider sending such photos to friends.
"It's very dangerous," he said. "Once it's on a cell phone, that cell phone can be put on the Internet where everyone in the world can get access to that juvenile picture. You don't realize what you are doing until it's already done." (Seranko could not be reached for comment on Thursday, and a woman who answered the phone at the Greensburg Police Department said, “Our department is not doing any more interviews on the case.”)
But Patrick Artur, a Philadelphia defense attorney who by his reckoning has handled at least 80 child pornography cases, said the prosecution of minors for photos they took themselves runs counter to the purpose of both state and federal child pornography laws: Preventing the sexual abuse of children by “dirty old men in raincoats.”
“It’s clearly overkill,” he said. “… The letter of the law seems to have been violated, but this is not the type of defendant that the legislature envisioned” in passing the statute.
Artur said that because there is no mandatory minimum sentence under Pennsylvania’s child pornography law, unlike the federal statute, the students would not necessarily be incarcerated if they are found guilty. But he noted that convictions would have "serious, serious implications," including forcing them having to register as sexual offenders for at least 10 years.
If there is a case that cries out for jury nullification this is it. That said, the chances of jury nullification occurring are slim, given that most people don't understand what it is (and what it is for), and prosecutors and judges tend to despise it. A better outcome would be a serious rethink at the legislative level of all of the sex laws and how they impact on teenagers -- that age when most sane people experiment with sex. The fact that there are people in jail and on sex offender lists for consensual sex with someone 1-2 years younger than themselves shows that something is out of whack.