Maryland’s Underage Sexting Case: Punishing Revenge Porn Victims?

AuthorJaideep Singh Lalli
Published date01 April 2021
Date01 April 2021
Subject MatterCommentary
Maryland’s Underage
Sexting Case: Punishing
Revenge Porn Victims?
Case Analysis of In Re:
S.K., 215 A.3d 300
(Md. 2019)
Jaideep Singh Lalli1
In 2019, the US State of Maryland’s highest court upheld the conviction of a
16-year-old minor for distributing her own ‘child pornography’ when she privately
sent a clip of her performing a (completely legal) sexual act to a social media
group of which only she and her two best friends were members. Considering
that the child porn statute was never meant to prosecute legal and consensual
sexting, this criminalization appears to be contra legem in light of the fact that the
Court would not have regarded it as an offence if the girl was two years older
(which does not make any difference to the legality of the sexual act since the age
of sexual consent in Maryland is 16). The Court’s penalization of this act of sexting
seems inappositely puritanical especially when it is noted that the convict was a
victim of ‘revenge porn’ since one of the two friends leaked the clip in her school
in an apparent act of revenge after their friendship ended. This paper analyses
both the majority and dissenting opinions of this 2019 judgment to come to the
conclusion that the majority ignores the true purport of the US Supreme Court
decisions and wrongly invokes the doctrines for interpreting legislative intent
to buttress its stance. As Maryland has criminalized acts of ‘revenge porn’, this
article’s focus extends to examining how the Court’s failure of factoring in the
effect of Maryland’s ‘revenge porn’ statute in discerning the legislative intent of
the ‘child porn’ statute has produced an aberration of a statutory interpretation.
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
4(1) 88–95, 2021
2021 Rajiv Gandhi National
University of Law
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/25166069211033212
1.University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.
Corresponding author:
Jaideep Singh Lalli, University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh 160014, India.

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