The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 30, 2013

Four girls, one boy face ‘sexting’ charges

Chief: A lot of kids are doing it

SHARPSVILLE — Four teenage girls are charged with sending nude photos of themselves to a teenage boy who is charged with having the photos on his iPod.

Sharpsville police Chief Keith A. Falasco said that four girls – three from Sharpsville High School and one from Jamestown High School – were charged for e-mailing nude photos of themselves to a boy from Sharpsville High.

The boy was charged for storing and viewing sexually explicit images of a minor older than 12.

Falasco said the case was the first of its kind for his department, perhaps the first for Mercer County under a state law that just went into effect in December.

Thirty sexually explicit photos were e-mailed by the girls. About 70 more pictures that did not violate the law were either out of focus or showed them in scant clothing.

“A student told me a lot of this is going on,” Falasco said.

The student estimated that probably half the kids he knows around his age “have done something like this,” the chief said.

Sharpsville High officials conducted an internal investigation after a student reported seeing a nude picture on another student’s iPod. When multiple pictures were found on the boy’s iPod, the parents of all the Sharpsville students involved were told that the matter had been turned over to police.

“Everyone involved was very cooperative, including parents,” said Falasco. “The student gave us his passwords.”

The kids charged denied sending the photos to anyone else and police said they found no indication that the girls had. The boy said he didn’t show anyone the photos, Falasco said.

Last year the law in Pennsylvania changed to allow prosecutors to charge minors who engage in “sexting” to be charged with a misdemeanor or summary offense or divert first-time offenders to an educational program and expunge their records on successful completion of the program. Previously such acts were considered felonies.

Falasco said authorities are “looking into” what kind of program is available.

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