many times, in high profile cases, the united states government intervenes on state criminal prosecutions and pursues matters federally. it has recently been reported in the ahmaud arbery case that the united states department of justice are investigating federal hate crimes charges against 3 georgia men accused in the incident that resulted in mr. arbery’s death.
where is the department of justice on the ee lee matter? i have seen no news accounts as to any press conference from the department of justice that the federal government has any interest that all possible federal crimes relating to the murder, assault and sexual assault of ms. ee lee are pursued.
for those unaware, federal and state laws are different. there are many federal laws which address issues of interstate commerce. some federals laws address matters concerning child pornography.
in the ee lee matter, there was a video taken of the assault. the video’s nature and extent are of interest. the video may have included the sexual assault. in the matter, both of the accused, at the time of the crime, were underage. therefore, the video may include minors engaging in sexual acts.
if this is the case, in a bizarre twist, the video could arguably be considered child pornography. the possession or distribution of the such video would then considered a crime. as noted in the criminal complaint, there are allegations that the video was recorded on a phone and was transmitted to others via the facebook messenger application.
per the justice department website, according to the justice department, there are a variety of code sections which address child pornography, including
“images of child pornography are not protected under first amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law. section 2256 of Title 18, united states code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor. undeveloped film, undeveloped videotape, and electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography are also deemed illegal visual depictions under federal law.
“notably, the legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that an image depict a child engaging in sexual activity. a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive. additionally, the age of consent for sexual activity in a given state is irrelevant; any depiction of a minor under 18 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal. “
“federal law prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography using or affecting any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce (See 18 U.S.C. § 2251; 18 U.S.C. § 2252; 18 U.S.C. § 2252A). specifically, section 2251 makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing visual depictions of that conduct. any individual who attempts or conspires to commit a child pornography offense is also subject to prosecution under federal law. “
“any violation of federal child pornography law is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face severe statutory penalties. for example, a first time offender convicted of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison. a first time offender convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 2252, faces fines and a statutory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison. convicted offenders may face harsher penalties if the offender has prior convictions or if the child pornography offense occurred in aggravated situations defined as (i) the images are violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature, (ii) the minor was sexually abused, or (iii) the offender has prior convictions for child sexual exploitation. In these circumstances, a convicted offender may face up to life imprisonment.
in sum, if the biden administration truly supports the united states’ asian community and their pursuit to be protected, then the president should publicly announce that the justice department is looking into the ee lee matter as to whether federal prosecution is possible. ms. ee lee’s matter is certainly one of the most horrific crimes committed against an asian american in recent memory. therefore, just as the federal government is pursuing the arbery matter, the ee lee matter deserves the attention of the federal government.
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