Evan Emory’s cunning attempt at musical comedy turned very serious, very quickly. The 21-year-old Michigan man won’t be laughing as he spends the next two months in the Muskegon County Jail.
The whole nightmare for Emory began when he posted a video of himself on YouTube singing a sexually explicit song to elementary school students. But before you take the side of law enforcement and the county, it’s not as raunchy and inappropriate as it sounds. The video was only edited to make it appear as if young children were in the classroom, even though they weren’t. Emory posted two disclaimers on the video that elementary school students were not exposed to the explicit lyrics.
The footage of the children was recorded in January when Emory performed a clean song for the class. It was only later that Emory returned to the empty classroom to record a vulgar song, which he edited with clips of the children and posted to YouTube in mid-February.
On Tuesday, Judge William C. Marietti of the Muskegon County 14th Circuit Court sentenced Emory under a previously arranged plea deal to 60 days in jail, two years probation, 200 hours of community service, mandatory counseling and fines and costs. And when he emerges from jail, Emory can’t be within 500 feet of children under the age of 17. All for a comedy attempt gone awry.
Emory in March pleaded no contest to the reduced charge of “unlawful posting of an Internet message with aggravating circumstances.” He had been charged with “manufacturing child pornography,” a charge that comes with a potential 20-year prison sentence.
Under the reduced charge, Emory will not have to sign up on the sex offender registry, which would have been the biggest crime committed by anyone involved in this case.
The video was taken off YouTube because of the lawsuit, and we’re unable to find a copy of it online. The judge in the case now considers it “contraband.” But some of the sexual lyrics in the song include: “I like the way you make your body move. C’mon, girl…See how long it takes to make your panties mine…I’ll add some foreplay in just to make it fun. I want to stick my index finger in your anus.”
Parents of the students from Beechnau Elementary featured in the short segment attended the sentencing hearing and applauded the decision. “It was lewd, it was disgusting, it was perverted,” parent Stephan Hellman told WWMT. “You are no longer a child, you are an adult. You should have known better.” Fellow parent Charles Willick said, “An innocence was taken, something we as parents try very hard to keep, something we hold sacred and dear was taken from the kids.”
Willick’s reactionary, inflammatory rhetoric begs the ultimate question: What innocence exactly was taken from the kids here? From their perspective, all they saw was a musician come in and sing them a happy, appropriate song — they were only exposed to the real thing. Emory only edited in the raunchy lyrics after the fact. So unless these first-graders have been surfing the Internet like 4chan pros and can dig up a copy of a video that doesn’t exist on the Internet, how would they have even seen the finished video?
Last month, Emory sat down with ReelSEO‘s Grant Crowell to discuss the plea deal:
ReelSEO also has the handiest primer on the legal issues and school policy surrounding the case.
Emory, as President Obama said about the Cambridge Police, certainly “acted stupidly” for failing to get permission from the kids’ parents (even though, according to ReelSEO’s post, there’s an opt-OUT agreement for parents at the beginning of each school year and Emory technically had permission). He deserves a swift kick in the arse. But two months in jail? For a joke video in which nobody was truly harmed in the making? That’s some harshness right there. What do you think about this? Weigh in below.
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