On Dec. 5, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia Police Detective David Edward Abbott Jr. (pictured above) violated a 17-year-old boy’s constitutional rights in 2014. Abbott demanded that the teen, named Trey Sims, “manipulate his penis to achieve an erection” in front of police officers during an investigation of a felony child pornography charge. The boy filed a lawsuit against Abbott, suing his estate for damages following the 2014 investigation.
Sims, who is now 20-years-old, was under investigation as a 17-year-old for “possessing child pornography” after sending a video of his genitals to his then 15-year-old girlfriend. The girl’s parents claim to have “repeatedly” asked the 17-year-old to stop and later pressed charges against him.
Abbott obtained a search warrant for the teen’s genital photos and then brought Sims to a juvenile detention center where Abbott ordered Sims to masturbate in front of police officers so Abbott could take pictures and compare it to the video.
Sims reportedly could not get erect (understandably), but Abbott took photos anyway. The following day, Abbott got a second warrant to take Sims to a hospital so that medical professionals could give Sims an “erection-producing injection” for Abbott to take more photos of the teen’s genitals. The police refused to serve the warrant after a massive public outcry against the invasive and abusive measure.
In a 2-1 decision on a three-judge panel, Judge Barbara Keenan wrote:
Both the outrageous scope of the sexually intrusive search and the intimidating manner in which the search was conducted weigh strongly against any finding that the search was reasonable. We cannot perceive any circumstance that would justify a police search requiring an individual to masturbate in the presence of others.
If you’re as shocked as we are over Abbott’s overzealous attempts to photograph a teenage boy’s erection, perhaps it helps to know that in 2015 Abbott killed himself rather than surrender to police over pedophilia charges of him sexting with two boys aged 11 and 13.
And while it’s extra screwed up that a 17-year-old can be given felony charges, serve prison time and become a lifelong registered sex offender for sending sexts to his teenage girlfriend, this year the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill looking to make that a crime nationwide, effectively making criminals out of the 18% to 22% of teens that sext — that’s roughly 7.5 to 9.1 million teens, more than the entire population of New York City.
Trey Sims was given one year probation for his offense.