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WTF: YouTube Musician Evan Emory Faces 20 Years in Prison for Clever Editing

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By HVculture on February 17, 2011


Evan Emory, a musician who posts his material on YouTube, recently uploaded a video that might earn him 20 years in prison. Yes, you read that correctly. One totally harmless video. Twenty years in prison.

Attorneys, however, told WoodTV8 that the felony charge may be unconstitutional. Curt Benson, professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, said the trial could pose “a constitutional question” because it violates Emory’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

So let’s back up. What’s this all about? The 21-year-old Emory posted a video of himself on YouTube singing a sexually explicit song to elementary school students. Before you take the side of law enforcement, 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.

If Emory is charged with the count of manufacturing child sexual abusive material he is facing, he could spend 20 years in prison for what he says was just a joke. Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague said Michigan law ‘provides penalty’ for those who actually manufacture child sexual abusive material ‘but also has a provision for those who make it appear that the children were actually abused.’

The footage of the children was recorded a month ago when Emory performed a clean song for the class, said Ravenna schools’ Superintendent John B. VanLoon (is that seriously his name? Amazing!). It was only later that Emory returned to the empty classroom to record a vulgar song, which he cleverly edited with clips of the children and posted to YouTube on Monday.

The video has been taken off YouTube because of the suit, and we were unable to find a copy of it online. 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.” Below is a newscast from News 8 that contains clips of the original video. You cannot hear what Emory is singing, however, and the students faces have been blurred:

If the charges are deemed unconstitutional, however, the video may be put back up.

Devin Schindler, associate professor at Cooley Law School, said it appears the charges against Emory “might violate his First Amendment right because it is overly broad.” He added the charges “appear to run afoul of the First Amendment.”

“I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I just wanted to make everyone laugh,” Emory said.

Parents are too outraged to worry whether Emory’s rights may be being infringed upon. One parent interviewed said, “He humiliated my child. He’s humiliated all the parents that are involved in it and something definitely needs to be done.”

Prior to his arrest, Emory said he owed the school “a huge apology for being deceptive and taking advantage of the fact they trusted me.”, according to WoodTV8.

However, when later asked if he regretted his decision he seemed a bit more cavalier: “I guess we’ll see how many views it gets on the Internet,” he said.

Emory’s attorney, Terry Nolan, and VanLoon appeared on HLN on Thursday night. Here’s the segment:

So what do you think? Are Emory’s right being violated? Is this much ado about Internetnothingness?


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