The dangers of social media sites

Posted on April 14, 2011

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As my siblings grow up and begin creating their first facebook profiles. I often find myself giving advice to them on creating their first profile and utilizing what security facebook offers. When reading the Chronicle I came across a subtitle, “ what if you really did think she was 17?” If this isn’t an attention getting headline, I don’t know what is.

Last week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard arguments in a case that could possibly change the way some sexual offenses are prosecuted in Texas. The current issue is whether a state statute pertaining to sexual assault of a child is unconstitutional because it does not require the state to prove a defendant’s culpable mental state. By mental state, I am referring to the defendant’s knowledge of whether or not he/she knew the alleged victim was a minor. Twenty four year old, Mark Fleming, began a relationship with what he believed was a twenty two year old girl named Kari Minesinger. The relationship began when Minesinger contacted Fleming in a text. Fleming checked her facebook and MySpace profiles which also stated that she was 22 years of age.

After a few dates, Fleming was arrested by surprise and charged with sexual assault of a minor. As it turns out, Kari Minesinger was only 14 years of age and denied in court that she had ever misled anyone. Needless to say, Fleming challenged the charges and argued he should be able to provide evidence that Minesinger deceived him. Cases such as this can ruin the name of a person. Sexual crimes are not looked upon lightly by society and with the benefits of social media sites being utilized in such a manner it’s dissapointing. Once registered as a sex offender, you may face a life of ridicule and discrimination as your name is stored online. Although I am a supporter of the sex offender registry, I feel as if some innocent people are not able to properly defend their case because they are immediately stigmatized.

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