Legal Eagle : The eye-popping world of 'sexting'

May 22, 2017

Modern life and improved technology have produced wonderful innovations.

Take for instance the word 'sext'. It is believed that it is a blend between sex and text. The meaning of sexting, according to an online dictionary, is the sending or exchange of personal nude pictures, videos or sexual chats by digital means, and particularly cellular phones, by way of applications such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram, just to name a few.

It seems that there is no legal problem or breach of the law when consenting adults sext each other, but if a minor is involved it could be big trouble.

Research shows that millions of people around the world have found this new online world of sexting irresistible. It only requires two phones. The parties can be on different continents.

There are no limits as to what is exchanged by the parties. In addition, it is easy as I-2-3. Notwithstanding the above, the law has imposed some limits such as no children should be involved in sexting and the genitals of children must not be photographed and circulated.

In this regard, the poster boy is the infamous Anthony Weiner.

Weiner, 52, the former Democratic congressman from New York, pleaded guilty in a Federal Court in New York, last Friday, to transferring obscene material to a minor.

His first trouble began when he used Twitter to send links to sexually suggestive pictures of himself to a 21-year-old woman.

The FBI also investigated Weiner for sexting with a 15-year-old. These are just but two of the litany of sexting expeditions carried out by Weiner over several years.

Weiner's appetite for sexting with minors has brought shame and disgrace to him and his family. His personal problems were further compounded when his wife separated from him.

He also had to resign from Congress. Very soon, Weiner will be a registered sex offender. Under normal circumstances, Weiner would be faced with a 10-year prison time but with the plea deal, he is likely to face between 21 to 27 months in prison.

In Jamaica, any adult who did some of the things Weiner did in New York would be liable to be charged under the Sexual Offences Act for sexual grooming of a child.

The offence is committed when an adult, having met a child in any part of the world and communicated with the said child on two earlier occasions, he or she intentionally meets the child or travels with the intention to meet the child.




Obviously, a skilful prosecutor would take steps to have the sexting chats, pictures or videos admitted into evidence. Anyone found guilty of sexual grooming is liable for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years.

It is also likely that anyone who commits any of the offences done by Weiner could be prosecuted in Jamaica under the Child Pornography (Prevention) Act, which prohibits the production, distribution, importation, exportation or possession of child pornography and the use of children for child pornography, which means any visual representation of a child engaged or depicted to engage in sexual activity or depicts, for the purpose of sex, the genitals, breast, pubic area, anal region of any child or any depiction of torture, cruelty or sexual abuse in a sexual context.

For the Weiner-type offences, prosecutors in Jamaica may also look for help from the Cybercrimes Act, 2010 and the Obscene Publications Act.

To those who are unable to resist the temptation of sexting with minors, let it be known that the law is watching you online and if that is not enough, just remember that Weiner, despite his connections, has now fallen from grace.

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