More on the Foley Legal Issues:

Most of the legal discussion that I've seen of the Foley case has focused on whether he could be on the hook for attempting to physically seduce the pages. Might it be a crime, though, for him to try to get the page to masturbate? (It's not clear from the material that I've seen whether he was in fact trying to do that, but I suppose it's possible.)

Masturbating isn't a crime, fortunately, whatever the age of the person's who's masturbating; but getting a minor to masturbate for you might be, depending on the jurisdiction and on the minor's age. People v. Imler., 9 Cal. App. 4th 1178 (Cal. App. 1992), for instance, held that Cal. Penal Code § 288()a), "Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, ... upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony," outlawed a person's telephoning a child and ordering him (through threats of harm to the child's parents) to masturbate while the child is on the phone:

It matters not that Imler could not touch his victim. "The touching necessary to violate Penal Code section 288 may be done by the child victim on its own person providing such touching was at the instigation of a person who had the required specific intent." The accused does not have to commit the lewd act. The defendant's intent may be inferred from his conduct which was to order the victim to commit a lewd act upon himself.

(The logic of the case would extend to persuasion without the use of threats as well.) Likewise, People v. Poplaski, 616 N.Y.S.2d 434 (N.Y. Dist. Ct. 1994), held that N.Y. Penal Law ยง 260.10(1), which prohibits "knowingly act[ing] in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than seventeen years old," made punishable the defendant's phone conversations in which he directed 12-to-15-year-olds to masturbate.

My sense is that such a theory is a longshot, even if Foley was trying to get a minor to masturbate during their electronic conversation; among other things, I'm not sure that all similar statutes would be read this way, and I'm not sure that many states have such statutes that reach up to the level of the older minors who seem to have been involved in the Foley case. (I should note that some states ban using a child in a "sexual performance," which conceivably could include getting the child to masturbate in front of one person, but the Florida statute, for instance, is limited to visual performances rather than acts which someone merely hears, or is told about.) And, more importantly, it's hard to figure all this out without knowing more about exactly what Foley said, and exactly where the minors were at the time.