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Texas court rules sexting as free speech

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Amarillo, TX - Sexting is now under the protection of the First Amendment, which could put more children at risk.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled a state law concerning the online solicitation of a minor violates First Amendment rights and is too broad. The broadness of the law left sexting up for reinterpretation. The court decided it is an act of free speech and is protected under the First Amendment. This means even an adult can sext a minor.

This week, prosecutors dropped a case against a Fort Worth area teacher accused of sexting a 13-year-old student because of this ruling. Despite the ruling, children are still protected from listed sex offenders in our area. "It's not like we're going to be allowing sex offenders now to be having contact with children through sexting," said Community Supervision and Corrections Department Director Terry Easterling.

"Our sex offenders have a term and condition of their probation that says they can have no contact with any child under the age of 17. And our view on that is it's the offender's responsibility to make sure anyone they're having contact with is an adult." Easterling said his department will continue monitoring social media sites to make sure offenders are not contacting minors. "We really work hard at limiting sex offenders' contact with children through the internet and through Facebook. We do polygraph offenders on a regular basis to make sure that they're not on Facebook and that they're not on social websites and things like that."

Easterling said he doesn't expect sexting in Texas to be allowed for long. "I can't imagine that this will stand through another legislative session. If they said the legislation was too broad, then I have a feeling the legislature will meet and tighten that up."

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10

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