UNION — A 16-year-old juvenile pleaded guilty to one of two charges filed against him in connection with the theft of personal photographs from his teacher’s cell phone.
In a statement released Friday morning, Sixteenth Circuit Assistant Solicitor John C. Anthony announced that the juvenile had pleaded guilty before Family Court Judge Rochelle Condit in the Main Courtroom of the Union County Courthouse on Thursday. He said that the juvenile pleaded guilty to Second Degree Computer Crime, which he said “involves taking possession of a computer device, including a cell phone, belonging to another person.”
Anthony said the juvenile also pleaded guilty to Injury to Real Property in connection with a prior event. He said the juvenile was ordered to undergo a community evaluation by the SC Department of Juvenile Justice “after which he will return to Family Court for the imposition of his sentence.”
The juvenile was arrested March 4 by the Union Public Safety Department and charged in connection with a Feb. 18 incident involving a cell phone belonging to Leigh Ann Arthur who at the time was a teacher at the Union County Career Center. Shortly before the juvenile was arrested, Arthur said she inadvertently left her cell phone on her desk for a few minutes while she went out to monitor students in the halls between classes. In the few minutes she was out of the room, the student got her cell phone and began getting pictures off of it.
Arthur described the pictures as being personal in nature that she took of herself which she intended for her husband for Valentine’s Day. She said that between the time she took the pictures and the Feb. 18 incident she forgot the pictures were still on her phone.
In addition to the Computer Crimes charge, the juvenile was also charged with Aggravated Voyeurism but this was dropped by the Solicitor’s Office.
Anthony explained that “to constitute Voyeurism, acts must be committed for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire. While the nature of the pictures taken by the juvenile from Ms. Arthur’s phone would provide some evidence of lewd intent on the part of the Juvenile, the statements he made to Ms. Arthur on the day the photos were taken and the statements of other witnesses indicate the juvenile’s actions were motivated by a desire to embarrass Ms. Arthur rather than the lewd intent required Aggravated Voyeurism.”
Furthermore, Anthony explained that “other than the offenses to which he admitted guilt today, the juvenile has no criminal history. An Aggravated Voyeurism conviction, even as a juvenile, requires mandatory sex offender registration for life. Although the juvenile’s conduct in this case was a serious violation of Ms. Arthur’s privacy, the Solicitor’s Office believes that the juvenile does not pose a sufficient risk of harm to the community to justify compelling him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Given this concern, the evidentiary issues we would anticipate in proving the necessary intent for Voyeurism, and the juvenile’s admission to the Computer Crime charge, we have dismissed the Aggravated Voyeurism charge.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.