She actually believes parents should prohibit kids from dating until
Benda didn’t question his 17-year-old girlfriend when she took a naked picture of herself in the mirror on his cellphone. “I didn’t think.” Now, her former boyfriend is facing serious consequences.
The photo is a reflection of her and Benda, his hands covering her body. The girl later told a Dakota County judge that she had forgotten about the picture until police came to her house and asked about it. Benda was convicted of felony child-pornography possession and is awaiting sentencing.
Other states have changed their laws to differentiate consensual sex from predatory crimes.
Florida adopted a “Romeo and Juliet” law in 2007, allowing some people to petition the court to forgo registering as a sex offender.
He was banned from Simley and from having contact with girls younger than age 16.
He was ordered to 30 hours of community work service and three days in jail.
A college already rejected his son because of his conviction, he said.
It means a defendant won’t be adjudicated as guilty, as long as he or she complies with the court’s conditions.
Attempts to reach Knowlton for comment were unsuccessful. Yang, 19, who is pursuing a law degree at Briar Cliff University in Iowa, said it wasn’t fair for his former friend to be charged with a felony for a consensual, long-term relationship.
“The punishment didn’t really fit the crime,” Yang said.
Michigan has adopted similar legislation, and Illinois and California groups are pushing for those laws, too.
Benda’s father, James Benda, said teens convicted of these crimes face an uphill battle when looking for jobs and going to college because of the social taboos of sex offenders.
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“It just doesn’t seem fathomable to me.” CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Weeks after George Knowlton started his senior year last fall at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, the 18-year-old athlete and honor-roll student was charged with felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having consensual sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend.