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Sexting Contributed to Court’s Sentencing a Man to a 52-Year Prison Term

Decision carries implications for how youth leaders communicate with teens.

Key point 4-11.1. Clergy who engage in sexual contact with an adult or minor are subject to civil liability on the basis of several legal theories. They also are subject to criminal liability.

A Tennessee court affirmed a 52-year prison sentence for a defendant who engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with a minor, including sexting.

An adult male (the “defendant”) sexually abused his minor stepdaughter from 2012 to 2016 when the victim was between 11 years old and 15 years old. The defendant was charged with several felony counts. Evidence introduced at his trial included more than 1,000 sexually explicit text messages and images on a cellphone and computer tablet.

What this means for churches

The defendant’s criminal offenses were based, in part, on his sexually oriented text messages with the victim. In many states, the transmission of sexually explicit text messages ...

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