A sex-video case involving a former Gulliver High swimming star posed a difficult dilemma for a Miami-Dade judge.
When Brice Kendall was a teenage high-school student, he and his 16-year-old girlfriend began making explicit videos of their sexual trysts. After they broke up, Kendall, who had just turned 18, showed off the videos to three friends, humiliating the girl and launching a police investigation.
“No one deserves to have their trust violated – especially when it comes to matters of the heart,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny wrote in an order.
In the end, however, Colodny recognized that the videos were consensual and underscored “the dangers of young love in the technological age.”
And so the judge on Thursday allowed Kendall, now 20, to plead no contest to child abuse in exchange for completing five years of probation, plus 300 hours of community service that includes speaking to students about the impact of filming their intimate affairs.
“With all the media attention directed to the issue, society would hope the youth would finally understand the impact of recording and sharing their personal moments,” Colodny wrote in a five-page order.
Kendall, an accomplished swimmer who would have received collegiate scholarship offers, was in a relationship with the girl for eight months before the break-up.
He turned 18 years old just months before he showed the videos to his friends. Kendall never transmitted the clips through text or e-mail to anyone.
When word got back to the girl that he had shown friends the videos, however, her parents reported him to police. Detectives raided his Coral Gables home.
Authorities arrested Kendall in October 2013, initially charging him with possessing child pornography. Ultimately, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office amended the charged to 15 counts of child abuse, no great harm.
Under the state’s sentencing guidelines, Kendall faced a minimum of 16 years in prison on the child-abuse charges.
During an emotional hearing in October, lawyers for the girl argued Kendall deserved some prison time. His attorney, Jayne Weintraub, insisted the charges were “trumped up” by a “troubled girl” and the victim’s family was motivated by the potential of a civil lawsuit against Kendall’s family. His mother is a prominent Coral Gables physician.
Ultimately, Colodny – while calling the girl a “true victim” – said Kendall” is capable of rehabilitation, and deserves the opportunity to prove himself reformed.”
“It was an immature decision made by an individual in the infancy of his adulthood,’’ the judge wrote.
Under the court-offered sentence, Kendall pleaded no contest to one single count. He was allowed a “withhold of adjudication,” which means the conviction won’t appear on his criminal history – although he cannot seal or expunge the record of the arrest.
He must also write a letter of apology. Weintraub said Kendall’s swimming career is over, and he’ll likely have trouble ever getting a job.
“The stigma of the child abuse charge is so disingenuous in this case because he was with his girlfriend who willing participated in the video clips,” Weintraub said. “Because of that, Brice Kendall will carry the stigma of child abuse for the rest of his life.”
The court’s sentence did not sit well with the victim, who fell into a deep depression after the video sharing, said her lawyer, Rebeca Sanchez-Roig.
“The victim is satisfied, but it’s not necessarily what she wanted,” Sanchez-Roig said.