A Missouri cop will be spending the next seven years in prison, for taking nude pictures of a 17-year-old he was sleeping with.
Justin Watson was a highway patrol trooper in south-central Missouri. He met the 17-year-old at a baseball game where he was an umpire.
The two did engage in a consensual sexual relationship. However, at some point Watson took several x-rated photos of the teen, using the teen’s cellphone then sending the images to his phone. By sending the images he violated federal child porn laws.
The legal age of consent in Missouri is 17, but taking pictures the age is 18.
Watson faced a possible 20-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors recommended a 12-year sentence for “grave abuse of the defendant’s position of power”. Meanwhile, Watson’s attorney, Brian Risley, asked for something closer to the federal minimum, which is five years.
Risley argued that the relationship between Watson and the 17-year-old was consensual and that Watson immediately took responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty.
But Judge Doug Harpool was unmoved, calling the case “complex and peculiar” and voicing his disapproval of a 40-something man sleeping with a 17-year-old boy.
This week, Harpool sentenced Watson to seven years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release.
“Photographing sexual activity by people who are minors under federal law is not something that can be tolerated,” the judge said.