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Do photos of children playing naked constitute child pornography?

Perhaps because of the press coverage about child molestation convictions of Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, another story about a college football coach has made national headlines. In his case, however, the charge is possession of child pornography, and it raises the question of what, exactly, constitutes a sexual or exploitative image of a child.

A 46-year-old father and football coach is currently facing charges of possession of child pornography and of using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work. The father apparently took videos of his own children, who are all under the age of 10.

He and his wife say that the videos are simply crazy, memorable moments of their children, that the children love to act silly and be recorded, and that the children are not shy about being in the nude. However, the authorities have twisted the motives behind taking the videos into a crime.

Lingering questions that will have to be answered in this investigation include:

  • What is the children's perception
  • Do the family's computers and other electronic equipment contain any other evidence
  • Were the videos kept secret or did other adults know of them
  • Are there other pictures or videos of naked children
  • Are the children acting naturally for their age
  • Do these videos evoke a sexual response
  • Was the father directing the children to act in the videos

Now, it will be up for investigators to collect any other evidence, aside from the children dancing in the nude, to present to a jury who may end up deciding whether these videos constitute child pornography.

Most Pennsylvania residents may think that they know what child pornography looks like if they saw it, however this story is far black and white.

This story is also disturbing, not so much because of the facts surrounding the children, but because of the lack of facts, and the quick action of law enforcement officials to arrest a father and coach on evidence that appears at this point to be debatable.

Source: NBC, "Minn. coach's child porn case tests investigators," Steve Karnowski, Aug. 27, 2012

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