Right call made in teen sexting case

Although it will likely cost him something politically, we believe the decision Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese made recently to not authorize criminal warrants in connection to what turned out to be a Marquette County-wide teenage sexting investigation, was the right one.

Wiese disclosed earlier this week that hundreds of high school students from Marquette, Ishpeming, Negaunee, Gwinn and Westwood were involved. For the uninitiated, sexting can be defined as sending sexually explicit materials — typically photos — using computers or mobile devices.

The cases, investigated by the Michigan State Police, started with a handful of students but rapidly spread to dozens, then hundreds of individuals in multiple school districts. Social media was listed as the online vehicle used to exchange the materials.

In a release to local media, Wiese recognized that the activity, while highly inappropriate, isn’t what the Michigan law intended to criminalize.

“Technically (the exchanged material) could be considered child sexually abusive material, and using a computer to commit a crime,” he said in the release. “I am confident that parents and school officials will give this matter the attention it deserves, and impress upon area teenagers that this behavior is inappropriate, and could potentially be considered criminal.”

If you’re Wiese, the easy play here would have been to get the pen out and start signing warrants. That’s what prosecutors all over the country have been doing with these cases for years. Anyone convicted lands on the state’s sex offender registry.

But he didn’t do that, and we applaud him for it.

What people often don’t know about Matt Wiese is that he was earning his bones prosecuting domestic violence cases back when a lot of people thought those were matters that should be handled privately in the home. Veteran cops, even the old-school guys, will tell you he was way out front on that issue, not only locally but for the entire state.

Put another way, he’s earned the discretion that he exercised in this case.

We hope the political fallout from this is minimal and quickly forgotten. Wiese made the right call.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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