Teens Face Child Porn Charges After Police Launch School Sexting Investigation

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Two Reading High School students in Ohio may face criminal charges after police launched an investigation involving the confiscation of cell phones they claim contained “inappropriate photos” – when allegations that the photos had been circulated amongst the student body surfaced last week.

“An incident was brought to our HS Administration late last week, involving cellphones and inappropriate photos. The Reading police were notified immediately, as well as all the parents of the students involved,” Reading Community Schools Superintendent Joel Anderson said.

“As a result, two HS students were disciplined. The Reading police confiscated a number of cellphones and are currently investigating the incident.”

Anderson said two boys(both minors) violated the school district’s code of conduct by sharing pictures of two girls they had allegedly been “sexting” with.

It is not clear how long the photos had been circulating or how many students saw them, but now, detectives are considering pressing charges against the teens.

“You can get arrested and charged for trading child pornography, which is a pretty serious crime, even as a juvenile,” Hamilton County Detective Joe Richter said. “They don’t realize the dangers of sexting, because that picture is going to be out there forever.”

Possible charges the students might face include “pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor,” and “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material” – which are both felonies.

According to Reading Police Lt. Terry Zimmerman, the student’s phones have not yet been gone through.

“The first step is to interview those involved, gather as much information as possible, and then, if it appears a criminal offense occurred, get a search warrant for the phones,” Zimmerman said. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into these types of cases.”

The subsequent interviews and searches of the phones could potentially lead to more charges and other “suspects.”

Similar “sexting rings” have been busted in schools across the country but local law enforcement usually use their desecration and educate, rather than prosecute students.

One case of this happening was during April of last year at Lousia County High School in Virginia, which involved more than 100 teens and more than 1,000 photos of underage girls posted to a social media sites like Instagram.

Instead of handing out charges, Louisa schools, with the help of police, expandeded programs to teach teenagers “the dangers of social media and how to make smart choices,” and launched programs to help parents discuss the issue with their kids.

Child porn charges for minors accused of sharing pictures of other minors, and even of themselves are not unprecedented however. In 2010, eight Pennsylvania High School students were charged with felony child pornography charges.

The teens at Susquenita High, who all knew each other, were accused of using their cell phones to take, send, or receive nude photos of each other and in one case a short video of a oral sex. The students ranged in age from 13 to 17.

It is not yet clear which route Reading and Warren County police will take in the new Ohio case. Hopefully officers will use some common sense and not ruin these kids lives forever with charges and then convictions that would require them to register as sex-offenders preventing many employment and life opportunities.