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'Girls Gone Wild' comes to Georgia's highest court 

Cobb County resident who appeared in video deserves day in court

Should you ever require quantifiable evidence that sex sells, look no further than the "Girls Gone Wild" video franchise.

According to my tally, between 1997 and 2009, skin-peddler Joe Francis and Co. released 297 tapes and DVDs, each featuring dozens — hundreds? — of women who may or may not have been aware they were consenting to have their boobs ogled by gross middle-aged men rarin' to rub one out with the help of hot, young co-ed flesh.

And that's usually taken for granted, isn't it? That the boobs in question do, in fact, belong to hot, young college students — and specifically not hot, young middle school students who experienced momentary lapses in modesty and judgment.

Cobb County resident Lindsey Bullard (née Boyd) appeared in the video "Girls Gone Wild: College Girls Exposed." She also appeared on the video; a still of her flashing her breasts in exchange for a string of plastic beads during a 2000 spring break trip to Panama City was featured on the tape's jacket.

Bullard might have been wild, but she wasn't a college girl. Not by a long shot. She was 14, in the eighth grade, and about to have a rough several years once her classmates, teachers, and coaches discovered the indiscretion.

Bullard filed suit against the makers of "GGW" in 2004. Perhaps she'd consented to have her breasts videotaped — or at least implied consent by exposing them — but she was just a kid.

It would be insane if kids were capable of giving legal consent to be photographed in a sexual manner, or that the photographs could be distributed for profit, wouldn't it? Not in Georgia, apparently.

On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments for and against allowing Boyd's case to finally go to trial. According to U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes, whether Boyd gets her day in court depends on "unsettled questions of Georgia law."

In the order requesting help from the Supremes, which was published in late September, Carnes wrote, "It is not at all clear that the law has caught up with this kind of vulgar exploitation of a young girl."

With so many half-baked, arbitrary, often antiquated pieces of legislation on the books, it's unbelievable to me that nowhere in Georgia's code is there a way to protect minors from having images of their naked bodies — even partially naked bodies — bought, sold, and distributed to millions of people.

Technology advances quickly, but the technology in question in this case has been around for decades. That defense doesn't quite work when we're talking about VHS tapes that were advertised on half-hour infomercials, and distributed via snail mail.

Attorney Scott Carr, who's representing "GGW" and its affiliates, didn't comment to the media prior to the hearing. He did opine in a court document that a young Bullard had "placed no restrictions — indeed, never expressed any concern for — how the image of her exposing her breasts would be used ... Now that spring break is over, [Bullard] has had second thoughts about her decision to expose her breasts for the video camera, but that choice was hers alone."

Carr, who I hope doesn't have daughters — or if he does, that they have a real nice wardrobe in exchange for daddy's soul — takes for granted that a 14-year-old child can give legal consent.

But if a young person can't legally consent to have sex until 16, I wonder how he or she could consent to have images of their bodies used for commercial purposes, especially if those images are sexual in nature.

Don't get me wrong — I'm not saying having one's image used in a "GGW" video is tantamount to statutory rape. But you heard the judge: it constitutes a "vulgar exploitation" of a young person. Georgia law should reflect that. As Bullard's attorney Gerry Weber pointed out, this case represents an important opportunity for the Georgia Supreme Court to set a precedent.

Lindsey Bullard is now 26 years old. She's a mom. It's safe to say her life hasn't been destroyed by "GGW's" use of her image, although it probably felt that way back when she was being mercilessly ridiculed by her high school peers.

And, really, lots of people make poor decisions in their early teens they're forced to live with for the rest of their lives, whether it's having unsafe sex that results in an STD or pregnancy, getting a shitty tattoo, or driving drunk and causing an accident.

Seldom, though, does some third party have the opportunity to profit so directly off naivety. Bullard has at least earned the right to fight for some of that profit in court.

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