Call made to review state sex laws
Ohio prosecutors and others are pressing lawmakers to update pornography and domestic violence laws to better apply to teens.
The move comes as prosecutors debate what to do about teens who send racy images on cell phones. Law enforcement officials want to deter teens, but believe penalties under Ohio's child pornography laws are too harsh.
Two high school students in Mason were charged Wednesday, March 4, with misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor after nude photos of two classmates were found on a cell phone. Under state law, they could have been charged with a felony and risked being labeled sex offenders.
"Kids do not realize the seriousness of what they are doing," said Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel, whose office is handling the case.
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said he agrees the law needs to be updated. He suggested the state Legislature address the issue while debating separate bills that deal with teen dating violence.
One would allow juvenile courts to issue protection orders for minors who fear abusive partners. The other would require schools to teach students about abusive relationships.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck Jr. said Thursday, March 5, he doesn't think changing the law is the answer.
On Wednesday, he announced a diversion program in which juveniles accused of sexting could enter a program. They would give up their phones for a time, perform community service and attend educational courses on the dangers of sexting. Charges would be dropped if they complete the program.