Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


The high-tech phenomenon of teen "sexting," which is now garnering mainstream media attention, is pushing and straining traditional legal notions of what constitutes child pornography. As teens take sexually provocative photos of themselves and send them off to other teens via cell phones, some prosecutors are charging them as child pornographers. This article pivots on an exclusive, in-person interview conducted in Florida by the authors in May 2009 with attorney Lawrence Walters and his client Phillip Alpert, who sexted a nude photo of his girlfriend when he was 18 years old. Alpert was charged under child pornography laws and, today, is treated as a registered sex offender. This article uses Alpert's tragic case to lay bare the problems with treating teen sexting as child pornography.