The Washington Post calls this "a unique approach to collecting evidence," and I guess that's one way to put it. The approach is to forcibly inject a 17-year-old boy with something that would cause an erection so they can take a picture of that to compare with the picture he allegedly texted to his girlfriend.
I'm not at a loss for words very often but just now I sat and stared at this report for a while.
It wasn't too hard to come up with things to say about the New Mexico cops who rummaged through a guy's colon for several hours, with an alleged doctor's help, looking for nonexistent drugs. That cost their employers $1.6 million, but I believe those cops are still on the job. Here, though, we have police and prosecutors insisting on a forced medical procedure involving the genitals of a 17-year-old boy whose "crime" is sending a picture of those to his girlfriend. And apparently oblivious to the irony involved in charging the kid with creating child pornography and then demanding a picture of his boner.
Just to be clear, the police have already taken pictures of his genitals in a (not surprisingly) unaroused state. They did that when they arrested him for his ever-so-heinous crime. But on July 1, when the case was set for trial, the boy's defense attorney said that prosecutors demanded her client plead guilty or else they would go get a warrant for evidence that would be more comparable to the texted photo. What do you mean? she asked. According to the attorney, the prosecutors replied that "we just take him down to the hospital, give him a shot and then take the pictures that we need."
Now sitting and staring at the screen again.
He declined to plead guilty—the charges could lead to incarceration and being listed as a sex offender for the rest of his life—and, incredibly, some judge actually gave them the warrant, according to this report. It hasn't been served yet, and a different judge granted a motion to let the boy leave the state to visit family before the warrant could be executed.
Maybe he shouldn't come back? Maybe he should ask for asylum, actually, because it sounds like law enforcement officials in Manassas and maybe all of Prince William County, Virginia, have gone completely insane.
Update: According to an AP report (thanks, Eric), the Manassas Police Department has decided not to pursue this idea any further and will let the search warrant expire. The report states that the department's spokesman "said he had no information on why the department no longer plans to pursue the photos," but I will go ahead and speculate it's because the department learned that most other human beings who learned of the plan were utterly revolted by it. Prince William County prosecutors and whoever signed this warrant should also be deeply ashamed, of course.
Oh, hey, I just noticed that Prince William County, which is just outside D.C., is considered part of the "National Capital Region" and therefore receives a share of the more than $50 million per year allocated to the NCR for "homeland security" purposes. Presumably that's because the government is concerned about a heightened risk of terrorism there, and that makes me wonder whether prosecuting minors for consensual sexting offenses should really be a priority for Prince William County.
[Okay, "consensual" might not be the right word, since the girl was only 15. Her parents certainly did not consent.]