What started as a probe into reports of nude photos of students has become a full-blown investigation involving almost a dozen students at two schools in Falls Church, VA.
No one has been charged as a result of the investigation so far, but several explicit images of students have been recovered. Some of the images were posted on social media, and one student reportedly appeared topless on a live stream on Instagram.
“We have seen an explosion of these cases at Koffel Brininger Nesbitt,” said attorney Brad Koffel.” For 25 years I’ve been representing teens and young adults. Embedding cameras into cell phones has been an epochal event with serious negative consequences for kids who cannot see the logical results of their actions.”
Virginia law states that underage teens caught sexting can be prosecuted under the state’s child pornography laws, a felony that comes with a sentence of at least five years.
“The City Police Department believes that the health and welfare of all children and teens are very important,” Falls Church Police Chief Mary Gavin said. “We are taking this investigation seriously and are being sensitive to the ages of the students in this case.”
The Washington Post reported that the investigation began at the end of April after an assistant principal at one of the schools reported to a school resource officer that nude photos were being shared among students.
Now that sexting has become far more prevalent with the rise of smartphones, state legislatures across the country have started to push to change sexting between minors to a misdemeanor instead of treating it as child pornography, which is a crime. While some states have passed these bills into law, this is not the case in Virginia.
“The tide has continued to move in the right direction on a national level, but that hasn’t happened here,” said Jonathan Phillips, a former Fairfax County prosecutor. “There still needs to be an answer for cops, prosecutors and parents who are going to court that is not a felony.”
“Fortunately, Ohio may be enacting new legislation to require these cases to be placed into a specialized diversion program as opposed to prosecuted,” said Koffel.
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