The Daily Nonpareil reports that the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that offensive text photos aren’t to be considered or punishable as indecent exposure.
On Friday, the state’s high court ruled that texts containing photos of someone’s genitals do not qualify as indecent exposure under state laws. Specifically, although “one can be offended by a sexually explicit image transmitted via text message, it is much easier to ‘look away’ from that image than it is to avoid an offensive in-person exposure.”
However, someone who sends offensive photos to another adult may face harassment charges, which are misdemeanor-level crimes in Iowa.
This ruling follows an indecent exposure case against a man who stalked a woman for four months after he met her in 2014 where she worked. Jose Willfredo Lopez, 55, kept pursuing the woman even though she resisted, but she eventually agreed to meet for food and drinks multiple times. However, she asked him to stop contacted her after he asked her to meet him at hotels.
A no-contact order was obtained by the woman in 2015 after Lopez entered her home twice without her permission and kept calling and texting her. Two months after the order was issued, he texted her a picture of his erect penis with the message “me in my glory,” and told her he would visit her at home. She call the sheriff’s office and Lopez was arrested while peering through one of her windows.
Official charges against Lopez included stalking and indecent exposure, due to the texted photo. He was convicted and sentenced to up to five years for the stalking and a year in jail and 10 years of parole for the indecent exposure charge.
Lopez filed an appeal claiming his attorney did not adequately represent him because the indecent exposure conviction was not challenged. The court agreed, as this charge has never been applied to electronic communication.
The court further specified that this ruling only applies to the transmission of still images and does not address videos sent through FaceTime or Skype.
*Photo credit Daily Nonpareil