PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio– The investigation into a teen sexting scandal involving students from Valley Forge High School has expanded and may soon include half a dozen serious charges against multiple students.
Parma Heights Police Detective Sgt. Steve Scharschmidt said that five girls and a boy, ranging in age from 13 to 15, are at the center of the case which started in September.
A 15-year-old girl told her family, district administrators and police that nude photos of her had been posted and shared on the internet and at school.
“She was nervous to report it because she knew she had done wrong,” said Det. Sgt. Scharschmidt.
The teenager took the pictures for her boyfriend, but he never deleted the photos after the two broke up.
Investigators said it was like something out of the movie ‘Mean Girls.’ Several teenage girls hacked into the boy’s phone, stole the pictures and then began sending them to other people, eventually posting them on a fake Instagram account which they had created.
“Which really took it to another level,” said Det. Sgt. Scharschmidt.
Six phones were taken as evidence and now eight weeks later, the forensic analysis has been completed.
Det. Sgt Scharschmidt said additional naked and inappropriate pictures of about a half dozen other minors/students were found.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Juvenile Division will be getting the case either late this week or early next week.
The following charges have been recommended by investigators:
Disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, Pandering obscenity;
Pandering obscenity involving a minor;
Pandering sexually oriented matter Involving a minor;
Illegal use of a minor in sexually oriented material or performance;
The victim and ex-boyfriend who were targeted could also be charged because all naked pictures of minors are considered child pornography under the law.
“She (victim) clearly understands now what a terrible decision she made,” said Det. Sgt. Scharschmidt, “However the other girls, there seems to be some remorse, but in our main suspect…we’re not seeing that as much.”
No one was available for comment Wednesday at the Parma City School District, but in a previous statement officials said the main suspect was being disciplined at school.
Police said this case should be a wake-up call for all parents and children.
Det. Sgt Scharschmidt tells parents to check your kids’ phones often and unannounced.
And teenagers need to learn that it is illegal to take and share nude photos of themselves and others, and if they get caught they will be prosecuted.