Overview of Michelle’s case
In 2019 a criminal case was instituted against the 53-year-old transgender woman Michelle. Michelle was accused of distribution of child pornography (part 1 article 242.1 Criminal Code). According to investigation, in 2014 Michelle published three drawings on a social media platform “VKontakte”. On these drawings the experts found “males under 14 years of age”. During that time Michelle had already started transitioning and was undergoing hormonal replacement therapy, but hadn’t had the time to change her documents.
On August 13th, 2019 Michelle’s residence was searched as a part of criminal investigation. During the search a laptop and a sim card were seized. On the same day Michelle was interrogated as a suspect. Under the pressure from investigators and hoping for reduced sentences, she signed a confession. After that Michelle was subjected to a travel ban
On August 21st, 2019 Michelle was formally charged with the crime under the article 242.1 of Russian Federation’s Criminal Code (distribution of materials with pornographic imagery of minors, committed in relation to a person under 14 years of age). On September 18th, 2019 Michelle was served with new charges of unlawful distribution of pornographic materials. Michelle pleaded guilty and petitioned the court to review the criminal case on an ad hoc basis.
On November 29th, 2019 Briansk city’s Soviet district court found Michelle guilty of committing a crime under article 242 and item “a” of the second article 242.1 of Russian Federation’s Criminal Code. The court imposed a penalty in the form of 100 000 rubles fee and a prison term of three years. Michelle was taken into custody in the courtroom and placed in a solitary cell.
On January 22nd Briansk’s regional court brought Michelle’s case back for review. The appeal instance cancelled the sentence and brought the case back to the first instance court to be re-examined by a different panel. The court also changed Michelle’s penalty freeing her from solitary confinement.
In January of 2020 Moscow Community Centre for LGBT+ initiatives and renowned lawyers Olga and Dmitri Dinze joined Michelle’s defense team and have been doing anything in their powers to help her.
On February 19th Briansk city Soviet district court began re-examination of the case of the transgender woman. Examination of the case was held in a closed section, the application to open the process was not granted.