Law allows sex with 16-year-olds, but bans sending them explicit photos, Indiana’s top court says

Criminal Justice

An adult can legally have sex with a 16-year-old youth in Indiana, but it is against the law for an adult to send a sexually explicit photo to a youth under the age of 18, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled.

The court’s decision on Monday reinstated the charge against Sameer Girish Thakar, who was prosecuted for allegedly sending a photo of his erect penis in 2014 to a 16-year-old girl in Oregon. He was charged under a state law barring dissemination of matter harmful to minors. How Appealing notes the decision (PDF) and coverage by the Indianapolis Star and Indiana Lawyer also has a story.

Thakar had argued that since the girl could legally view his penis in person as part of consensual sexual activity, state law should allow him to send a photo of it.

The state’s high court cited the plain language of the statutes and rejected Thakar’s argument of an apparent conflict.

“To baldly assert that for a 16-year-old girl consensual sex is equivalent to the abrupt appearance of an erect penis on her computer is nothing more than a policy determination, and it is not the place of our court to usurp that role from our General Assembly,” the court said.

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