The Press Herald is reporting a story about a 26 year-old man from England, Nicolas Cheese, who was arrested for producing child pornography with a 13 year-old girl from Maine.
The case came about after the girl's parents reported that she was sexually assaulted to the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office. After speaking with the girl and the suspect, it was revealed that the two met over a year earlier in an online chat room. The young girl reportedly sent Cheese sexually explicit videos and photos and the two engaged in sexual intercourse at a hotel when he came to Bangor in June. When police went to question him before Cheese checked out of the hotel, they found a sexually explicit photo of the girl taken at the hotel.
The child pornography charge is a federal case, and Cheese is also facing state charges of gross sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor. Altogether, he may face several decades in prison. The sentencing for the federal crimes alone is 15-to-30 years of incarceration.
There are no details given in this case that states whether Cheese was aware of the girl's age or not. If he was, he will likely be guilty. If he was under the assumption that she was older than 13, he could have a case. In Maine, under criminal code §284, being in possession of any sexually explicit material that involves a minor less than 16 years of age is a crime. If he is able to argue that it was reasonable for him to think she was 16 or over, he may have a case.
Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible and unfortunate crime. In the age of the internet, it can be easy for people, both young and old, to misrepresent themselves. In this case, the consequences are very serious.