Miley Cyrus upskirt shot: Child porn?

Blogger Perez Hilton posts a link to an alleged upskirt photo of the 17-year-old -- and could face serious charges

Published June 15, 2010 12:01PM (EDT)


Perez Hilton has built a thriving career out of offensive behavior: He's called countless female celebrities bitches, hos, whores and sluts, and covered their faces in jizz using Microsoft Paint. But these things merely violate good taste -- not federal child porn law that carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years. The same cannot be said for his latest shocker: tweeting a link to an alleged upskirt photo of a pantyless 17-year-old Miley Cyrus.

The facts as we know them: On Sunday, Hilton's Twitter account sent out the following message: "If you are easily offended, do NOT click here Oh, Miley! Warning: truly not for the easily offended!" The photo in question has since been yanked down, but the image is allegedly of Cyrus climbing out of a car wearing a dress and no underwear (according to, this is a censored version of the image in question). Now, Hilton has posted upskirt shots before of Britney Spears -- but Cyrus is roughly five months short of her 18th birthday. She's still a minor and it's legally considered child pornography.

Jeffrey Douglas, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who specializes in child pornography cases, told Salon that Hilton's liability is "extraordinary and intense" and that it was "suicidal for him to do this." He added: "We're not talking about a misdemeanor. You don't have to know what the definition of the law is; all you have to do is knowingly distribute the photograph" -- which Hilton, or someone with access to his Twitter account, most certainly did. It doesn't matter much whether Hilton took the photo, owns the photo or published the photo -- as long as he knowingly distributed the link.

Some are speculating that the image was Photoshopped -- so, what then? "Under the law, that is still a crime and it is punishable just the same," says Douglas. "For instance, if you were to take the face of an 8-year-old and put that picture on the nude body of even an identifiable, fully developed adult porn star, it is child-porn punishable identical to if you took a photo of the actual child." What's more, depending on how the image is presented, there is the potential for the shot to be considered child porn even if Cyrus is actually wearing form-fitting underwear; in fact, Douglas says there has been debate in the past over similar images Hilton has published of Cyrus. All it will take is an enterprising attorney interested in making an example out of him; he could be prosecuted on the state or federal level -- or both -- with a conviction potentially resulting in a 15-year sentence and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Douglas says that "if he's not prosecuted, there is one reason why: his name is Perez Hilton."

As is often the case when you delve into the realm of child porn law, it's rather shocking what you can find -- from sexting teens charged as sex offenders to parents arrested for taking photos of their kids naked in the bathtub. If a 15-year sentence and lifetime registration as a sex offender seems a disproportionate response to what Hilton did, remember that scores of Americans face similarly disproportionate charges but don't have a recognizable, headline-making moniker.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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