An Indiana man is facing up to three years in prison for sending nude photos to a 16-year-old girl. But if he’d had sex with her instead, he would get off scot-free, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Monday.
High school teacher Sameer Thakar began chatting with a then-16-year-old girl sometime in January 2014, reported the Indy Star. At some point, after about an hour of discussing the girl’s age online, in which she told him she was not yet 18 and wished she was, he sent her lewd images of himself.
Thakar, who was in his first year of teaching, was charged with one count of felony dissemination of matter harmful to minors, the Indy Star reported.
But he argued in court that the law didn’t make any sense. That’s because in Indiana, it is legal for 16 and 17-year-olds to have consensual sex with adults. At the same time, it’s not legal for adults to send those same minors nude photos.
The court originally agreed with him and tossed the charges, calling it “patently illogical” that an adult man could legally expose himself in person but could face jail for doing it digitally, according to the ruling.
But the case was appealed all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court, which vacated the lower court’s ruling and upheld the charges. Even though the law was “inconsistent,” the court said in a 5-0 decision, that was a matter for the state’s lawmakers to sort out, not the courts.
The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel derided the ruling as “incoherent” and called for the state to just raise the age of consent to 18 and avoid all confusion.
“Forgive us for sounding quaintly old-fashioned, but we'd like the discussion about the issue to at least consider raising the age of sexual consent to 18 rather than eliminating or weakening the dissemination law,” the editorial board wrote.