I'm struggling mightily with this, for a couple of reasons (although more might occur to me as I ramble along). First, the issue itself: 17 year old (legally not yet an adult) in a relationship with a 15 year old. I doubt very much that this is a particularly unusual turn of events. Reading between the lines a little, it seems that both parties have been exchanging racy/naughty pictures of themselves. Again (and feel free to call me open-minded here!), I would guess that this is not a particularly unique event. Young people are highly sexualized these days, all of which is sanctioned by existing laws and let's be honest here - social norms around personal freedom, fashion and available media, whether it be web or TV in particular. I wonder whether, in the grand scheme of things, a 17 year old (still legally a minor himself) exchanging in such activity with a 15 year old really requires this kind of action by the authorities. It seems - to put it mildly - very much like using a steam hammer to break open a ripe tomato.
Don't get me wrong here; if my daughter (almost 16 herself) was engaging in this kind of thing I would of course be challenged by it, but much less so if her boyfriend were 17 than if he were, for example, 27. I don't know how intimate she and her boyfriend (he's the same age as her) have become, but I know that she is bright, intelligent, and has chosen a young man who respects her and is a considerate and affectionate kid. As a result, I don't have many qualms around that subject. I am placing my trust in them both to behave responsibly.
I remember being a teenager, being filled with hormones and desires and urges and unrequited feelings. In the late 70s and early 80s we had - by comparison - precious little freedom or even means of communication. Since we have (well, most of us, I'm guessing) handed our teenagers the means to communicate by voice, text and image, I don't find it very surprising that one of our species' most fundamental drives is being demonstrated and developed in this way. Like teenage sex, it's simply going to happen. Personally I've always followed the line of educating my kids, not making sex a taboo subject, and always being available to answer questions or offer advice. They have of course self-educated to a large degree (again; it's going to happen!) but they have grown up with a sensible - if age-appropriate - approach to the subject.
My second - and perhaps surprisingly, more fundamental - issue is with the proposal to enforce the gathering of evidence; i.e. obtaining photographs of the young mans erect penis. I suspect that this breaks new ground for evidence gathering in such a case. I've never heard of this being done either willingly or otherwise. I can't help but wonder how the prosecution hopes to encourage the young man to obtain a voluntary erection under such circumstances (which would not, I submit, be conducive to arousal). Perhaps realising the potential for failure, it sounds like they are prepared to forcibly conduct a procedure upon this kid in order to obtain the evidence they need!
I can only assume that neither the boy or the girl is being cooperative with the investigation, but given that the investigation itself seems heavy-handed at best, I can't say that I blame them. Should the authorities go ahead and assault this boy in this way I believe it would be a retrograde step for law enforcement and for American society. The prosecution seems ill-advised, but the proposal to inject this young man's penis to force an erection which they will then photograph just makes my skin crawl. This is an unwarranted invasion of the boy's body - how far can evidence gathering be allowed to go?
Finally...only the boy is being charged, although the implication is that they have exchanged images and so technically (and let's be honest, this is a prosecution based upon technicality, not sound reason) she too is in possession of 'illegal' images. She, however, is not being prosecuted. Hmmmm. Of course I may be wrong here but the picture that's building is not one of abuse, but of not-untypical teenage exploration or playing. Even though it may make some of us uncomfortable, that's what it sounds like, and it happens all the time. Perhaps these two are in love. Perhaps their love will last and they will continue their relationship into their futures...and the authorities are stamping all over them.
Maybe the real story here is my generation's inability to understand the world. Teenagers (probably for ever), in the grip of hormones and developing bodies and feelings, experiment with sex, by any means they can access. We won't be able to stop them doing this - and why should we? As the parents and mentors of this age group, it's our responsibility to educate, advise and guide today's teenagers (and the teenagers of tomorrow) about attitudes to sex. The risks, the joys, the benefits and the pitfalls can and should be made very clear to young people. Making sex (after all, the reason why any of us is here) some kind of dirty evil secret only makes it more compelling and interesting to explore.
In the meantime; young people showing off their bodies to one another by phone or computer? You know what; I can accept that - like I said, whether we like it or not, it's going to happen. At least doing it remotely is safer than getting to third base on the first date!