Local high school probes 'sexting' incidents | News
CINCINNATI (FOX19/AP)- Police and officials at a Cincinnati-area high school say hundreds of students may have been involved in recent cases of "sexting."
There have two been recent investigations into cases at Madeira High School of students circulating photos of nude or sexually involved students on their cell phones.
In January, officers confiscated up to eight cell phones belonging to high school students that had videos on them made by a male student who the Madeira police chief says has since been expelled.
In a second investigation, an official estimated that "hundreds" of Madeira students and possibly others outside the school had received or circulated pictures of naked female students. That case has been dropped according to Chief Frank Maupin since the parents did not wish to press charges.
In the January case, the student has been charged with a four felony counts of pandering obscenities involving a minor. His attorney says he is not guilty.
"It's beyond my comprehension or experience," Madeira Police Chief Frank Maupin said. "I grew up in the old days."
Maupin says while the students involved may have been tech savvy, were lacking in legal know-how.
"I think the majority of them, they don't understand or realize the consequences criminally, let alone if that were to get out on the Internet," he said.
At Madeira High School administrators decided at the beginning of the school year to focus on educating students on their digital footprint. Now students have a case study in the consequences.
"It may take something like this, unfortunately, students making some bad judgment calls in which we work with the police to investigate something," Principal Tom Olson said. "Right now I think we have a teachable moment."
Even parents with kids at other schools are making use of the moment.
"I want to teach my kids what exists in the world and that's sometimes hard to do until things like this happen," Sonya Engelke said.
Engelke's teens go to a different school in the area, but she says she plans to use this story to open up dialogue with her high schoolers
"They could get in trouble and I want my kids to know they would get in trouble," she said.
"It's a felony in the second degree," emphasized the teen's lawyer M.J. Donovan. "It's the second highest felony in the state of Ohio. It falls just short of murder.
Donovan says the Ohio law was written to protect children from harm and argues in this case the juvenile is just fine.
"No one took advantage of him, no one exploited him," she argued. "This is something he did in and of himself and he was not harmed."
Donovan argues this run-in with the law could negatively impact the teen for the rest of his life, even potentially forcing him to register as a sex offender.
"Juveniles are not going to be aware of how serious an allegation of doing something like this is," Donovan said. "To hold them responsible under the law as it's currently written I think is just patently unfair."
Even Chief Maupin agrees the law is lagging.
"It's a matter of the laws have to keep up with the technology and so far they're not doing it," Maupin said.
Even still, the chief says his job is to enforce the laws as they are on the books and that is what he will continue to do.
The teen is expected in juvenile court on March 26th.
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