On Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand a 30-year prison sentence of a former high-school hockey coach who was convicted of trying to induce a 17-year old female player to take a picture of herself in the nude with her cell phone and send it to him.
According to case documents, the former coach Todd Broxmeyer took pictures of his penis and transmitted them electronically to female hockey players in the high school. Todd was arrested in December 2007 and for engaging in both consensual and non-consensual sexual activity with several girls aged 15 to 17 between 2005 and 2007. In April 2009, he was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.
However, Broxmeyer won an appeal in the 2nd Circuit, had three charges thrown out, and the case was sent back for resentencing on one count of attempted production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Both the charges stemmed from a single incident where Broxmeyer attempted to induce a 17-year old to take a lewd picture of herself and send it to him.
He was resentenced to 30 years, and went on appeal. However, the 2nd Circuit majority held with the lower court. In it’s opinion the appeals court said the lower court was right in considering the entire trial record when Broxmeyer was resentenced. Circuit Judge Reena Raggi, writing for the majority, wrote that Broxmeyer “was a predator who abused his position of trust as a coach to encourage teenage athletes to produce child pornography for him and to engage teenagers in sexual relations that were always exploitative and frequently criminal.”
However, the Chief Judge, Dennis Jacobs dissented in a 20-page opinion. He held that the long prison term was inappropriate and the graphic accounts of Broxmeyer’s conduct had nothing to do with the convictions for which he was sentenced.
Judge Jacobs wrote in dissent, “My objection is this: the offense of federal conviction has become just a peg on which to hang a comprehensive moral accounting” and “in imposing a sentence that can be upheld as reasonable, a court should not lose sight of the offense of conviction.”
Even agreeing with the fact that as a coach and having exploited a position of trust, Jacobs is facing 30 years to become an utilitarian example and deterrent to others – one fact is difficult to ignore: under New York Law, where the incident happened, 17 is the age of consensual sex – the only thing that put Jacobs in for 30 years is that under federal law, a 17-year old is a minor, and it is that photograph that got him 30 years, but he would have been free if he just had consensual sex with the same girl.
So, the Chief Judge dissented.