Illinois Supreme Court: She's 17; Sex Okay, Pictures Not! - The Chicago Criminal Law Blog

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Illinois Supreme Court: She's 17; Sex Okay, Pictures Not!

It's not often that we, or the Illinois Supreme Court, get to ask the question: when is child porn actually child porn? It's usually pretty obvious. However, there are occasionally borderline cases, and the oft-mocked U.S. Supreme Court obscenity test of "I know it when I see it" doesn't exactly provide a great litmus test for the pervert with a camera.

This week, however, the Illinois Supreme Court answered that question when a case highlighting the incongruities of consent laws versus child pornography laws made its way to the highest court in the state, reports CBS Chicago.

Thirty-five-year-old Marshall Hollins is that proverbial pervert. The registered sex-offender was having sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl. This, apparently, is not a problem in Illinois, as the age of consent is 17.

However, while they were copulating, Hollins took pictures. He also sent those pictures back to his girlfriend. The mother of the barely-legal lass was not amused and reported it to police. Hollins was arrested, and later convicted, of child porn charges.

So, to summarize, under existing law, it is perfectly legal to sleep with 17-year-olds. You just can't take pictures (or video) while doing so.

Some think that the existing state of law is asinine. Hollins appealed his conviction, arguing that if she's old enough for hanky-panky, she should be old enough to memorialize the emotionally significant occasion.

(Others might object to a then-32-year-old man sleeping with a 17-year-old girl. However, the court only addressed Hollins' argument.)

In upholding the status quo of the law, and Hollins' conviction, the court stated, "there are rational, reasonable arguments in support of having a higher age threshold for appearance in pornography than for consent to sexual activity."

The main "rational, reasonable" argument cited by the court was the permanence of digital imaging. You can mostly move-on from a bad relationship or sexual encounter. Conversely, as Scarlet Johansson and Kim Kardashian can attest, it's a lot more difficult to move on from digital nude photos or sex tapes.

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