Recently, 19-year-old Brendan Baia, a former student at Central Michigan University, was accused of ‘sexting’ with a 12-year-old girl. According to reports, Baia and the girl had been exchanging messages and photos via their cell phones that were sexually explicit. Police claim to have discovered more than 122 Snapchat messages between the two during the last two weeks of August on the suspect’s computer and cell phone.
Police were contacted by the girl’s mother after she searched through the 12-year-old’s cell phone because her daughter had been acting depressed. Baia has been charged with three counts of committing a crime with a computer, accosting a minor for immoral purposes, distributing child sexually abusive material, and possessing child sexually abusive material.
Baia told the alleged victim’s mother that her daughter told him she would be turning 16 soon. As of September 15, the investigation into the allegations were ongoing; Baia is out on bond.
In Michigan, anyone who solicits or entices a minor who is younger than 16 years old with intentions of convincing or forcing the minor to engage in sexual relations may be guilty of accosting a minor for immoral purposes. This is a criminal offense that will leave anyone found guilty facing punishment which includes thousands of dollars in fines and a maximum of four years in prison. These penalties apply for a first-time offender; those who are repeat offenders will face consequences that are even more devastating. Additionally, the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender, regardless of whether it is a first offense.
In this case, it makes no difference whether the defendant believed the girl was 12 years old or 15 – she would be underage in either situation and under Michigan law unable to consent to sexual intercourse. However, many young people are not aware of the consequences they may face by engaging in sexual contact or acts with minors, especially when the minor is agreeable to the relationship and may even initiate ‘romantic’ or sexual behavior.
Possessing and/or distributing child sexually abusive material is also extremely serious. All sex crimes are punished severely, often with jail or prison time, fines, and the fact the offender becomes a known sex offender.
Individuals are often wrongly accused of sex crimes they didn’t commit. In this case the evidence appears to be solid, however there are countless cases in which there is weak or even a total lack of evidence. Anyone who is accused of a sex offense should seek legal guidance immediately in order to protect your legal rights and freedom.