By Alex P. Vidal
“I think there should be regulations on social media to the degree that it negatively affects the public good.”—Elon Musk
IF someone commits a crime or public scandal and is charged in court after being identified by witnesses or CCTV, his photo posted in the social media can now be used by any news outlet when they report the story without his permission.
I learned this recently when the New York Post used in their story the Facebook photos of a young couple caught having sex in a courtroom in June in Australia after charges have been formally filed against the couple.
This can only be possible, I think, if our Facebook posts are public.
If we edit the “privacy” of our posts, including the photos, to “friends only”, any news outlet “not on our friends list” may not be able to have access on them.
The Post reported on July 22, 2022 that Shamela Julie Leeding, 19, and Jake James Quinn, 20, who had public sex three times in a courtroom foyer have been sentenced for their “outrageous behavior” after a court heard it was simply a matter of “exuberance of youth.”
The separate photos, taken from their respective Facebook accounts as shown in the caption, appeared on the news.
Quoting a story from The Chronicle, the Post reported that Leeding was due to appear in Toowoomba Magistrates Court in Toowoomba City, Australia on June 28, 2022 for an unrelated matter, supported by her partner Quinn.
At about 9.40 a.m., the couple was captured on CCTV moving to seating in the eastern end of the courthouse public waiting area where Leeding straddled Quinn and the pair began to kiss “vigorously,” police prosecutor Cameron Francis said.
The story continued that: the pair then began to have sexual intercourse, with Leeding caught on camera lifting her skirt, sitting on her partner and moving up and down on Quinn’s lap.”
Leeding’s solicitor Ryan McCullough said the only explanation for the couple’s behavior was they had been overcome with the “exuberance of youth”.
Mr. McCullough said the couple’s “stupid and inappropriate mistake” was a hard learnt lesson in what was appropriate behavior.
Magistrate Clare Kelly said she had never heard of such an incident happening at a courthouse, describing the offending as “outrageous behavior”.
“In a disrespectful manner you’ve taken into the public arena a very private act,” Ms. Kelly said to the pair, according to the news.
The court was told the couple stopped what they were doing after they were approached by security, and Leeding got off Quinn who attempted to cover himself, added the story.
“The security officer left the area, and Quinn then exposed his penis again and Leeding adjusted his penis under her skirt, she then sat on his lap, facing away and again started moving up and down on his lap, appearing to again engage in sexual intercourse,” Mr. Francis said.
The pair continued until they were again interrupted by a volunteer court staff member but continued once the staff member left the area.
“For a third time the couple were approached, again by security, and Leeding quickly stood up and held her arms out in an attempt to block the view of the security guard while Quinn attempted to cover himself up,” Mr. Francis said.
The couple left the waiting area, which was full ahead of a busy court day, with members of the public less than 16 feet away.
The court was told they were easily identified by CCTV cameras, and on June 30 the couple was issued with notices to appear by police. On Friday the pair pleaded guilty to indecent act in any place to which the public are permitted access.
Solicitor Nathan Bouchier said Quinn’s actions “weren’t planned” and that the unemployed laborer simply “wasn’t thinking” of how inappropriate their actions were.
Mr. Bouchier said his client was looking for full-time employment, after previously completing a construction traineeship, and had two job interviews next week.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)