Evan Emory’s charges don’t fit the crime

Kevin VanAntwerpen

I don’t know Evan Emory. But gathering from his YouTube channel and his interviews with local news outlets, I’d say he is a lot of things – he’s a musician, a joker and a risk taker. He’s also vulgar and a little reckless. But, despite what Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague says, I don’t believe Emory is a sex criminal.

Almost two weeks ago, Emory was arrested for creating YouTube video of himself playing a sexually explicit song (and by explicit, I mean you know exactly where the narrator wants to put his fingers and other extremities) for an audience of elementary school children. While Emory didn’t actually expose the children to the song, he used video from a volunteer performance at Ravenna’s Beechnau Elementary without permission from the school faculty or parents. On Feb. 16, he was officially charged with creating “child sexually abusive material” – a felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and if convicted, his name would be placed on the Sex Offender Registry for life.

Now, I can see why some people are so convinced that Emory is some sort of sex criminal. He’s got pale skin, greasy hair and some slanty eyebrows that could give Jack Nicholson a run for his money. If he had a thin mustache and drove a conversion van, the look would be complete.

But aside from the lyrics of the song being more sexual than Charlie Sheen on a weekend binge, nothing about the situation is sexual in nature. Emory didn’t expose the children to any crass material, nor did he physically violate them in any way. Not even his motivations were sexual.

The truth is, Emory was creative. He hoped to add comedic value to the video in order to gain exposure via YouTube – something that’s essential to the career of any musician. It’s not the first time he’s done something out of the ordinary for attention – currently hosted on YouTube is a clip of Emory charging into one of the computer labs in Henry Hall at Grand Valley State University and playing an impromptu song for a room full of students.

These children were not victims sexual assault any more than an implied victim of molestation on episode of Law and Order: SVU. They were, however, victims of copyright and privacy infringement.

Yes, it was stupid to use images of children without the permission of their parents. Yes, the parents are entitled to some sort of settlement. But Emory did not sexually violate any of those children. I’d even go as far as to say Emory’s video did little to no damage to those kids – is it really worth stealing up to 20 years of his life and smattering his name in response? I’m not saying Emory should go without punishment, I’m just saying the punishment should fit the crime.

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