Today the Tredyffrin Township Police Department filed multiple pornography charges against three middle school students at TE Middle School and Valley Forge Middle School for allegedly creating and sending sexually explicit images. According to the police report the images included nudity and child pornography. The ages of those charged range from 11 – 15 years old. Suspects viewed and shared the images while in school. The investigation by the Tredyffrin Township Police began in April 2015.
An excerpt from the Tredyffrin Township Police Department press release of November 3, 2015 is as follows:
The Tredyffrin Township Police Department has announced that Juvenile Allegations have been filed against three (3) juveniles, for different incidents related to the creation and distribution of intimate images and harassment. The distribution of intimate images can range from a charge grading of a summary offense to a felony, depending on the age of the participants, the age of the receiver of the image and circumstances involved in the viewing, storage and distribution of the intimate image.
In this case, those intimate images consisted of pictures or videos of students who attend Tredyffrin-Easttown School District middle schools; Valley Forge Middle School and T/E Middle School, as well as images retrieved from the internet. The age of the juveniles charged ranged from age 11 – 15 at the time the incidents occurred. Additional juveniles are likely to be charged in the near future.
The allegations were a result of investigations which were begun in April of 2015 by Tredyffrin Township Police Department and are continuing. During the investigation it was reported by both victims and participants, that intimate images consisting of child erotica, nudity, child pornography and pornography were created, sent, stored, and viewed by a number of students both at their homes and while at school.
In most cases the images and videos were sent voluntarily by the juveniles to other minors. In some cases intimate images were sent to unknown persons who were met in Cyber Chats conducted with various social networking applications. In another case, a student offered to sell an intimate image of a classmate to another student. The charges connected to this were, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Section 6321 (a)(1), Transmission of Sexually Explicit Images by a Minor, a summary offense and a Misdemeanor of the 3rd.
In one case, an intimate image of a sex act was taken off of the World Wide Web by a juvenile male, then distributed and portrayed as being that of a juvenile female student to her class mates. The resulting harassment lead to an assault at the T/E Middle School.
The charges related to this incident, from Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Crime Code included the following: Section 5903, Obscene and other Sexual Materials and Performances, a Felony of the 3rd degree; Section 7512, Criminal Use of a Communications Facility, a Felony of the 3rd degree; Section 6318, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, a Felony of the 3rd degree and Section 2709, Harassment, a Misdemeanor of the 3rd degree. Also charged was Section 3126 Indecent Assault, a Misdemeanor of the 2nd degree; Section 2709.1, Stalking, a Misdemeanor of the 1st degree.
During the investigation the majority of the parents whose children were involved were very concerned and cooperated fully with the investigation. One parent who routinely checked their child’s cell phone and computer usage was surprised to learn that his child was using a cloud based storage service to store and retrieve intimate images and avoid detection by his parents.
Many of the intimate images were found to have been created by the juveniles taking selfies, in their own homes with the location services setting on their phones activated. This action would allow for viewers of the images, including child predators to locate the homes of the juveniles via Meta data stored in the picture file.
Following the release of the Tredyffrin Township Police Department special juvenile report today, the TE School District released the following statement:
The T/E School District has been cooperating with a police investigation related to alleged misconduct by middle school students. We take these matters very seriously and follow up with procedures that promote safety for all students. The incident may also carry school-based discipline. As such, the District cannot comment on specific student discipline matters, as we must do all we can to preserve the privacy rights of all students.
The District has cooperated fully with law enforcement agencies throughout this investigation and will continue to do so. We join with the police and the entire community to emphasize responsible use of technology and to affirm the rights of all individuals to live and thrive in an environment free from harassment. This message is central to our mission and our daily work with students.
Director of Assessment and Accountability
District Safety Coordinator