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Teen May Be Labeled as Sex Offender For Sending Nude Photos to Girlfriend

What appears to be a common exchange between a young couple has had life-changing results for a 17-year-old boy in North Carolina who was caught sending nude pictures to his girlfriend, both of whom were 16 at the time. According to the Daily Mail, the teen now faces being placed on the sexual offenders registry.

Police officials in North Carolina have charged Cormega Copening with sexual exploitation of a minor because he and his girlfriend exchanged nude photos of themselves during their relationship.

Police found the photos while searching Copening's phone for an unrelated reason. The teen, the starting quarterback of his high school, claims the photos were never sent to anyone else. He now faces decades on the sex offender registry and up to ten years in prison if convicted.

Copening's girlfriend also faces similar charges, according to ABC11.

This isn't the first time a teen was charged with child pornography for sending nude photos. In Florida, 18-year-old Phillip Alpert was charged with distributing child pornography and put on the sex offenders registry because he sent a nude photograph of his 16-year-old girlfriend by email to dozens of people, including her parents.

North Carolina and New York both consider 16 to be the age of adulthood for criminal purposes, which may have led to reduced charges for Copening because he could only be charged with exploiting himself.

Nebraska, Utah and Vermont have changed their laws to decrease penalties for teenagers who engage in activities such as sexting. The National Council on State Legislatures reports that 14 more states are considering legislation that would treat young people who engage in sexting differently from adult pornographers and sexual predators—but as of today, a child can be punished for decades to come with one simple text message.

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