UC Irvine Police Dispatcher Scott Cornelius and Allen Rockwell, who collaborated with Cornelius, will not face prosecution for posting photos of unsuspecting high-school water polo players on several gay pornographic Web sites.
The Orange County district attorney’s office stated last week that charges would not be brought against Cornelius and Rockwell because they did not commit any crimes when their photos of high-school athletes were placed on explicit Web sites.
Cornelius, however, is still on paid leave, and a UCI investigation on whether he violated any university policies will continue.
The four-month investigation began in January, following a series of stories by the Orange County Register detailing how photos of water-polo players from various high schools across Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties were appearing on gay-oriented Web sites.
These sites showed photos of the athletes, some as young as 14 years of age, juxtaposed next to images that were sexually graphic in nature. Cornelius allegedly posted the pictures under the alias of Scott Stanford.
The case has raised questions about First Amendment rights as well as Internet privacy and law. But the OCDA’s office has put the matter to rest regarding prosecution in this particular investigation.
“Legally there were no criminal charges we could file,” said Farrah Emani, an OCDA spokesperson. “Unless new evidence emerges, as the case stands, our review of everything found that it didn’t rise to the level of the crime.” However, that is subject to change if a current bill in the California legislature is passed, although the outcome would not affect the current water polo case.
In response to the OC Register’s investigation, the state assembly public safety committee unanimously voted to pass a bill that would make preparing, posting or publishing a photograph or image of a minor on adult Web sites a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine to be passed on to the appropriations committee.