ILNews

COA rules minors must be active participants to meet statute’s definition of ‘child exploitation’

Marilyn Odendahl
January 25, 2013
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A man who secretly photographed minor girls in their underwear is not guilty of child exploitation because those girls were not intentionally exhibiting themselves, a divided Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

David Delagrange was convicted of four counts of Class C felony attempted child exploitation after he was caught surreptitiously photographing underneath the skirts of several females, including four minors. Delagrange had outfitted his shoe with a video camera and went to Castleton Square Mall to take pictures of panties, boots, and high heels of adult women.

Delagrange appealed on the grounds the trial court erred when it denied his motion for directed verdict. He argued the charging information does not constitute crimes of attempted child exploitation.  

The COA reversed the four counts of child exploitation and remanded to the trial court for proceedings.

For its ruling in David Delagrange v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1203-CR-144, the COA turned its attention to Ind. Code 35-42-4-4(b)(1). The court focused on the definitions of “sexual conduct” and the phrase “by a child.”

The majority found “the phrasing of the statute demands the child be performing the sexual conduct, which herein required the child be exhibiting her uncovered genitals with the intent to satisfy someone’s sexual desires.” Because the state did not present any evidence that the victims intentionally exhibited themselves, the trial court should have directed a not guilty verdict.

Judge Edward Najam Jr. dissented, arguing that the phrase, “sexual conduct by a child,” does not mandate any active participation by the minor.

“...the child exploitation statute cannot be interpreted to require that a child be an active participant in the exhibition of her genitals or that the child have the intent to satisfy sexual desires,” Najam wrote. “Such an interpretation improperly focuses the elements of the crime on the actions of the child and undermines the very foundation of the statute, which was designed to protect children.”


 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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