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Juveniles Charged With Rape After Posting Sex Video Online

Two 13-year-old boys have been charged with Rape and Indecent Assault after they allegedly coerced an 11-year-old girl to perform sex acts on them by threatening to post a previously recorded sexual video of the girl online. The boys recorded the sex act and then posted it online. Some people that viewed  the video then contacted the principal of the school, and the principal contacted the police.

Rape Does not Require Force

While no one would support the boys' actions in coercing the young girl to perform sexual acts to avoid public humiliation by having a sexual video posted online, I expect that some people are questioning how the boys could be charged with rape if they did not physically force her to have sex. In Pennsylvania, the Rape statute at 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3121 does prohibit a person from forcibly compelling another person to have sexual intercourse, which is the classic rape of a person physically violating another person by force. The Rape law uses the phrase "forcible compulsion," and Pennsylvania cases have interpreted that phrase to include "not only physical force or violence, but also moral, psychological or intellectual force used to compel a person to engage in sexual intercourse against that person's will." See Commonwealth v. Eckrote, 12 A.3d 383, 387 (Pa. Super. 2010).

In another case involving an appeal of a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, the Pennsylvania Superior Court considered a case in which a wife had obtained the PFA against her husband, and the husband challenged the PFA by arguing that he had not forcefully compelled his wife to have sex with him. The husband claimed that when his wife didn't want sex, she pushed him away and complied. However, the husband did not dispute that he told his wife that he would not support her or their child if she withheld sex. The Superior Court held that the threats to withhold financial support unless sex was given constituted sufficient intellectual and psychological force to amount to compulsion and thereby established the elements of forcible rape. Because the Court felt that there was sufficient evidence to prove a rape allegation, the Court affirmed the lower court's issuance of the PFA. To read the court's analysis on the issue, check out the case of Boykai v. Young, 83 A.3d 1043 (Pa. Super. 2014).

Transmission of Child Pornography

While the online article on Philly.com regarding this incident did not mention any charges related to the creation or transmission of child pornography, I do believe that the boys could be charged with such offenses. The law is actually called Sexual Abuse of Children under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6312, and it prohibits a person from causing a child under 18 to engage in a prohibited sexual act and the person has reason to know or intend to photograph or videotape the activity. By then sharing the video online, the boys committed another violation of the  child pornography law. The offenses would be graded as felonies.

In some situations in which the defendants are minors, they may be charged with Transmission of Sexually Explicit Images by Minor under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6321. The purpose of this law is to treat defendants that are minors and are sexting or sending naked images of other minors slightly less severe than a person that is normally punished for possession of kiddie porn. The more lenient treatment under this law does not apply in situations in which the videos depict other minors engaged in sexual intercourse. Because the boys in this case are alleged to have videoed and then shared a minor having sexual intercourse, they would be charged with the more severe offense of Sexual Abuse of Children. While the boys may be treated more leniently because they are juveniles, they are still facing very severe offenses related to rape and possession of child pornography. As a parent, this is a very sad story that such young children are involved in such adult activity.

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