Two junior hockey players appeared in a Moorhead, Minn., court on Tuesday to face felony charges of using a minor in a sexual performance and possession and distribution of child pornography after being accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, recording the act, and sharing the video with others.
According to a report on twincities.com, Brandon Smith and Thomas Carey of the USHL's Lincoln Stars brought the girl to a team hotel room in Moorhead after a game against the Fargo Force on Feb. 14. The two 19-year-old players claim the girl gave consent to being taped with Carey, but the victim told police that she contacted both Carey and Smith and told them to delete the images from their phones. The girl reported the incident after learning the video was being circulated and had reached some of her friends.
According to the original story, Minnesota state law dictates that neither consent nor a mistaken impression of the victim's age are considered defenses against the crime of using a minor in a sexual performance, but that didn't stop Smith's attorney, Joseph Friedberg, from playing the blame-the-victim card.
"The statute was designed for people who have pictures of sex with little children, something most of us can't look at and sleep," Friedberg said, adding that he didn't consider the 15-year-old in this case to be a child. "Not this 15-year-old."
The Lincoln Stars, which are based in Nebraska, released a statement last month confirming that both players had been suspended for the duration of the investigation.
"The USHL and Lincoln Stars are aware of the incident involving a pair of players that competed during the 2013-14 season, and both the League and organization have been in cooperation with authorities throughout the legal process. The players have been previously suspended indefinitely due to violating the USHL Player Code of Conduct, and that suspension has continued throughout the investigation of the matter. It is a privilege to play in the USHL, and we demand the highest standards both on and off the ice in terms of how players conduct themselves, as they are representing not only themselves, but their organization, community, and the League. We will continue to cooperate with authorities and monitor the legal process and will have a final determination of the players' status in the USHL once that process has concluded."
Neither Smith nor Carey has been drafted by an NHL team or appears to have serious prospects beyond the USHL. Smith, though, had an excellent first season with the Stars, finishing second on the team with 21 goals. Carey played a depth role on the club.