One North Carolina teen is facing 10 years in prison for having nude pictures of himself on his own cell phone, ABC11 reports. Cormega Copening, 17, of Fayetteville, is being charged as an adult with second-degree and third-degree sexual exploitation after police found images sent between he and his girlfriend last fall.
Authorities say it is illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to possess nude images or to send them with a cell phone.
"If you are under the age of 18 and disseminate pictures of yourself or receive pictures of someone under that age, it falls under the sexual exploitation of minors' statute," North Carolina's Cumberland County Sergeant Sean Swain told The Independent.
Officers took Copening's phone last fall while investigating an incident at his high school, which is still unclear, according to various news reports. Although he was not charged, he and his 16-year-old girlfriend were both brought up on felony charges when the images were found. Her charges were lowered to misdemeanors after she took a plea deal. As a result, she must complete a year-long probation.
Copening will appear in court on Sept. 30. If he is convicted, he will have to register as a sex offender. Copening has already been dropped from his high school football team.
Some are questioning whether these teens are being treated too harshly since the messages were sent privately between two minors.
Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege_.
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