The Danger of Law Enforcement Puritans

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dickheadThis is the face of the new witch hunter–Jim Plowman, the Loudon County VA Commonwealth’s attorney, who tried to prosecute an educator for possession of child porn when the educator was just trying to do his job.

Rumors had been flying at Freedom High School in South Riding, Virginia that students were distributing nude pictures of each other on their cell phones. It’s a phenomenon, known as “sexting,” that’s become increasingly worrisome to educators across the country, and Ting-Yi Oei, a 60-year-old assistant principal at the school, was tasked with checking it out.

The investigation was inconclusive, but led to a stunning aftermath: Oei himself was charged with possession of child pornography and related crimes — charges that threatened to brand him a sex offender and land him in prison for up to seven years. Transferred from his school and isolated from colleagues, Oei spent $150,000 and a year of his life defending himself in a Kafkaesque legal nightmare triggered by a determined county prosecutor and nurtured by a growing hysteria over technology-enabled child porn at America’s schools.

Unsurprisingly, Plowman defends the prosecution.


Brian Spears is Senior Poetry Editor of The Rumpus and the author of A Witness in Exile (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011). His poem “Upon Reading That Andromeda Will One Day Devour Triangulum and Come For Us Next” was featured in Season 9 of Motion Poems. More from this author →