Child Porn Charge for MySpace Revenge Pics

Wisconsin 17-year-old could face jail for posting pics of underage girlfriend.

ByABC News
May 22, 2008, 3:08 PM

May 23, 2008 — -- Alex Phillips, a "wise guy" who wanted to get revenge on his 16-year-old girlfriend by posting photos of her most private parts on MySpace, now faces felony child pornography charges in Wisconsin.

Phillips is 17 and considered an adult under the law, and his former girlfriend is a minor. He told La Crosse County Sheriff's Department he was just "venting" after she jilted him last week.

The girlfriend had taken the naked photos of herself in her home, then sent them to Phillips on her cell phone, according to Sgt. Mark Yehle. One was "front body nudity" and a second was her "vaginal and anal area," he said.

"I can only surmise she thought that would impress him somehow," said Yehle. "She's not an innocent victim. Kids don't realize that once a photo is in a digital format and you send it to someone, you better trust that person."

When the girl discovered the photos had been posted on the Internet with explicit captions, she contacted police, who asked Phillips to take them down or face jail time. Police said the boy refused, saying, "F*** that, I am keeping them up."

Phillips eventually told police he would take down the photos, but they were still there the next day, according to Yehle, so they contacted MySpace, which immediately had them removed.

Yehle said Phillips has been living with his grandparents, who are his guardians, and not attending school. He also had been previously charged with drug violations.

Phillips, who is one year older than his ex-girlfriend, has been charged with possession of child pornography, sexual exploitation of a child by a person under 18 and defamation. The exploitation charges alone carry a 12-year sentence, according to circuit court papers.

The charges may seem harsh for two teens so close in age, but one Internet safety expert said they are a stern warning. Phillips turns 18 in June, and could have been charged under federal law with even tougher penalties.

Attempts by ABC News to reach Phillips for comment were unsuccessful.

"Generally, law enforcement doesn't want to do it unless it's trafficking," said Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy and security lawyer and volunteer for WiredSafety. "The problem was he was a wise guy."