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SJC says child porn law covers videochat

The state’s highest court ruled that a state child pornography law banned an obscene videochat that a 34-year-old man had with a 10-year-old boy in cyberspace.

Jeffery Bundy was convicted of violating the state law that bars people from posing or exhibiting a child in a state of sexual conduct, specifically under the law’s provision that bans using children in “live performances.” He had encouraged the boy to commit a sexual act with him over the Web.

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Bundy’s defense argued, among other things, that there was no performance because the act did not take place “before one or more persons.”

The Supreme Judicial Court said in a unanimous ruling by Chief Justice Roderick Ireland that the law did not require an audience to be physically present.

“We add that a performance does not expressly or implicitly require the physical presence of ‘one or more persons,’” the court said. “. . . The Legislature’s interest in protecting minors from sexual exploitation should not turn on the medium used (or not used in the case of actual presence). To hold otherwise would allow persons who sexually exploit children to evade prosecution so long as they do so with the use of technology.

“We cannot interpret statutory language in a vacuum, ignoring the Legislature’s purpose in enacting the statute,” the court said.

Bundy was indicted in December 2008 and convicted in November 2010 in Bristol Superior Court.

Martin Finucane can be reached at mfinucane@
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