Evan Emory: sex offender?

Ashley Goetz

The definition of a pedophile or sex offender is pretty self-explanatory but since people are complex and diverse, opinions differ. Someone who takes naked pictures of kids is most likely going to be labeled as a sex offender. Someone who inappropriately touches a child — also a sex offender. Bob Saget—Well, he’s just a creep. And for Evan Emory — you can be the judge.

Evan Emory, was a 21-year-old aspiring musician. However, he made a life-changing mistake when he went to a Ravenna, Michigan elementary school and made a video, which he later posted on YouTube and showed to a nightclub. In his video, he made it look like he was singing a sexual song to a first grade class.

I couldn’t help but think he sounded like a pretty cool guy. Good singing voice, wears plaid shirts, and likes Daniel Tosh — hey, I might hang out with him if given the chance. I would have to worry about some people claiming he’s a sex offender, though.

The March 7 New York Times article reports how Emory went to the school and was allowed to sing age-appropriate songs to the kids but when they left for recess, he recorded himself singing the other song and edited the two videos together and volia! He made it look like kids were watching and enjoying Emory sing sexual lyrics.

Immature, yes, but he faced a sentence of 20-25 years in prison for the “distribution of child pornography” and would forever be labeled as a sex offender—a heavy sentence for a small YouTube video. What a mess.

The New York Times interviewed Charles Willick, whose 6 year-old daughter is easily identifiable in the video. He’s quoted as saying, “It is a serious, a huge violation. He crossed the line when he used children.” What if it was high school students Charles, and what if it wasn’t your kid in the video? How big of a deal would it be then?

I wanted to judge the video myself but unfortunately, the video was taken off of YouTube—no surprise there. Apparently Emory wrote the song when he was 16 and thought singing the song to an “inappropriate audience” would be more entertaining for the variety show he was participating in.

It wasn’t long before deputies knocked on Emory’s door ready to search his room diligently for child pornography. During the night he was in jail the New York Times quotes Emory admitting, “I just thought about how much I regretted this and how funny it wasn’t anymore.”

In a more recent report from Fox17, Emory pleaded no contest in the “unlawful posting of an internet message with aggravated circumstances.” He will have to serve sixty days in jail, do 200 hours of community service, and have 24 months of probation where he will not be allowed contact with minors or be able to perform music.  If he obliges with these demands for his sentencing on April 12, his felony plea will downgrade to a misdemeanor. In that case, he would aviod being a labled a sex offender.

What I want to know is how people around Evan’s age feel about this—meaning any student who reads this blog. I thought his sentence was a fair trade off. Kid makes dumb mistake, gets punished, kid gets second chance. Emory said how he regretted what he did and his intentions were to make people laugh, not humiliate first graders and their parents. In the end, he humiliated himself and his family.

Still, some parents feel he deserves to be a labeled sex offender and should go to jail for 20 years. The New York Times closes its article with a quote from one of the parents, Dan Peebles saying, “Does 20 years fit the crime? No, Would I care if he got 20 years? No.” This just shows people’s lack of knowledge about the justice system. People think prison is the only way to “cure” someone. If it was his son, I question how Peebles would react to the situation.

In the end, no child was physically harmed and we don’t even know if any children were bothered by the video because none of the initial reports tell us how the children reacted. Just like any 21-year-old, he’s entitled to make mistakes. He made the wrong mistake, but he obviously learned from it. A simple “kids will be kids” won’t suffice. It more like “just because a young man posts a video where it appears kids are enjoying a sexual song, he shouldn’t be labeled as a sex offender.” Wordy, but yeah, that sounds about right.

-Katie Wielgos

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