Quebec lawyer says teens who are sexting should not be charged under child porn laws

A Valleyfield lawyer whose teenaged client was facing child porn charges says that should never have happened and he wants to challenge the constitutionality of the law that lumps in alleged sex offenders with minors who are sexting, CJAD 800 has learned.

The 14-year-old was charged with child luring for the purpose of obtaining child pornography after allegedly asking for sexually explicit photos of slightly older students. He was also charged with extortion after alleged threats when they refused. 

His lawyer Constantine Kiryakidis said child porn charges were not appropriate in his client's case.

"It would be to disfigure the intention of the law to label an adolescent as a child pornographer," said Kiryakidis in an interview with CJAD 800, concerned about youths being stigmatized in such cases.

"It doesn't make sense to label an adolescent who engages in such conduct and to label him as a child pornographer and to bring him before the courts."

Dr. Laurie Betito, host of Passion on CJAD 800, said using such images to bully or harass is not okay but should be not criminalized under child porn charges. Betito said the law could be amended or the youth could be charged under another section of the criminal code.

Betito said sexting is becoming more common among youth.

"By and large, this becomes a form of sexual expression for many teens," said Betito.

"Call it a normative behaviour, another form of sexual expression in this digital age that we live in."

The crown withdrew the extortion charge and they settled on an absolute discharge meaning no criminal record for the youth.