August 21, 2014

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North Ridgeville police probe students’ inappropriate photos

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Police investigated two unrelated incidents of middle and high school students who took inappropriate photos of themselves and shared them via social media.

The first incident occurred Feb. 10 at North Ridgeville High School and resulted in a pair of 16-year-olds being referred to county Juvenile Court authorities on several charges.

“These kids were basically engaging in a case of ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ kind of behavior,” North Ridgeville police Officer Calvin Cross said of the incident at the high school in which the 16-year-olds, one male, one female, took smartphone photos of their genitalia and distributed them.

Cross serves as the district’s school resource officer.

Both students were referred to juvenile authorities on charges of disseminating and pandering obscenity involving a minor, while the male also was cited for disseminating material harmful to juveniles.

The second incident occurred Feb. 17 when three North Ridgeville Middle School pupils — two girls ages 13 and 14, and a 14-year-old boy — were cited for a similar situation.

“A young man had taken a picture of himself and sent it to a young lady outside the jurisdiction, and she forwarded it to a couple of other kids,” Cross said.

Superintendent James Powell said the incident involving the middle school students occurred off school property, so school officials will take no disciplinary measures against them.

Powell said Thursday he did not know whether the high school students had remained in school since the incident involving them or whether they had been suspended.

“It typically depends on the severity of the offense,” Powell said. “I don’t know their status at the moment.”

Both Cross and Powell agreed the incidents are representative of an unfortunate but increasing trend.

“We’re seeing more of this nowadays with technology and juveniles,” Cross said. “Back when we were their age, you had to get a camera, take photos and get the film developed. It took five or seven days to get the pictures back so they could be sent or passed around. Now it takes five to seven seconds.”

And with such speed comes a lack of time to think about the consequences of such spur-of-the-moment acts.

“They may realize later that was stupid, but now it’s out there,” Cross said. “They don’t realize the potential damage it could do to someone’s reputation.”

Powell agreed.

“This is getting to be so common that now we’re trying to educate (students) why this is unlawful,” he said. “They may think of it as a prank, but it’s a serious offense. Our goal is to teach kids appropriate use of technology so they understand the impact its negative uses can have on them.”

Photos of a sexually explicit nature taken and disseminated by anyone under the age of 18 are regarded as child pornography, Cross said.

“And if they send it to someone whether by text or email, or just passing around a phone, that’s disseminating pornographic material,” Cross said. “It’s a crime.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

  • Phil Blank

    This is bad.
    But I remember being that age and my father caught my friend and I looking at a Playboy magazine.
    He never said anything.
    In fact I think he felt relieved.

    • oldruss

      Yes, but the models in Playboy were all adults, whereas students in middle school and high school are minors.

  • Bob Sweatt

    One question.

    WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?????? This is why my daughter will NOT have a computer or cell phone until she is mature enough to pay for it herself.

  • oldruss

    “It typically depends on the severity of the offense,” [the North Ridgeville Superintendent of Schools] said.”

    I suppose “severity” is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder; but Superintendent Powell does not seem to realize that disseminating nudity-oriented material is a felony under Ohio’s criminal law, as are, I suspect, disseminating and pandering obscenity involving a minor and disseminating material harmful to juveniles. Committing a felony or multiple felonies would be “serious” in my book.

  • Sue

    Oh brother. I think the police should worry more about teenage drug use, and leave the parenting to the parents. Take their phones away, duh.

    • oldruss

      This isn’t a case of little Susie not eating her spinach, and getting her dessert taken away. Posting nude pictures of yourself (if you are a minor, that is, if you are under the age of 18 years) is a felony. Let me repeat that. Disseminating nudity-oriented material is a felony under Ohio criminal law. And that, Sue, is pretty serious, whether you think it is or not.

      • angelfire

        bla, bla, bla. They’re kids. Big deal….what a waste of tax money.

        • oldruss

          Believe it or not, angelfire, I did not write these laws. Nevertheless, there they are. It IS a criminal offense, a felony, in fact, to take nude pictures of a minor, to disseminate them, and even to just possess them. These kids are oblivious to the serious criminal consequences that could result from their sexting. So, bla, bla, bla, excuse me, for trying to pass-on some useful information to these kids on the kinds of consequences sexting can have. If you think this is, “a waste of tax money,” let me suggest that you get the General Assembly to change Ohio’s criminal law so as to exempt sexting by and between minors from these felony statutes.

          • Summer Smart

            Once its on the internet, it will never come off. They are aiding and abetting pedophiles whether they realize it or not, along side it being a federal offense. Grow up angelfire, have children and then say blah blah blah

    • Pablo Jones

      And then the next wave a crime is pedophiles talking young kids into taking the pictures themselves and posting them. The police look the other way and the pedophiles get what the way with less risk.

  • R2Me2

    Two minors, and some of you want to see them prosecuted, and have them listed as sexual offenders, which cannot be sealed when they become an adult. Tell me, what purpose does any law involvement have in this? The parents are now aware and it should be their job to handle it as they see fit.

    • ekwaykway

      I agree, slapping a minor with a felony will screw them for life! Adults on the other hand deserve it. Isn’t it a life sentence having it on the web already? Just think how your life would have turned out with a felony on your record. A lesser penalty for minors seems more appropriate considering teenagers do stupid stuff.

    • angelfire

      Exactly. I know adults that to this day have MIP (minor in possession) on their permanent records. They are in their 30′s. One guy cannot get hired at the local electric company because of it. He is a great electrician and they would hire him BUT when he was 15 he got caught with a beer at the local creek with some other kids (and girls). The cops told the local paper they were, “listening to loud music and drinking beer”. Geeeze. This stupid kid stuff follows you the rest of your life and the crazy nut a$$ people who make these laws have no idea how many lives they ruin by putting this stuff on these kids records.

      • bdid.d

        They did always warn us about our ” permanent record” … we thought they were bsing… apparently not!

      • Pablo Jones

        I remember when I was a kid, we felt we could do anything and get away with it because we were under age. Many kids think that whatever happens it all goes away when you turn 18. Giving them a slap on the wrist won’t prevent others from doing it. Make the punishment more severe and the other kids will think twice.

        Make it something that will stay on their record until hey are say 26 and tell them how that will affect their future and they rethink some of their weekend plans.

  • Don Grantzki

    It’s great that North Ridgeville’s crime rate is in such great control that the police can devote time to these atrocities.

    • bdid.d

      Amen!

    • TRB SR.

      For real. Big time crime in Bugtussle!

    • stillsleepyeyes

      They ran out of cats………………

  • Spec440

    I can’t help but wonder what the true motive is behind those of you that are so against this investigation. Perhaps your hard drives to be examined. These are CHILDREN sending naked pictures of themselves to others, which get shared and shared again until they end up on someone’s website somewhere. Good job NRPD.

    • Joe Smith

      I am not sure how I feel about this, on one hand, the kids should not be doing this for their own good, but on the other hand, someone can take an “art” pic and show it to a million people and that is ok, but if that same kid took a pic of themselves and sent it to one person, they get charged with a crime.

      • oldruss

        I think you are mistaken, Joe, a nude picture of a minor (anyone under the age of 18) will violate these criminal statutes, and it is irrelevant that it’s claimed that the picture is an “art” picture. Possession of such nude pictures of minors is a criminal offense.

        • Joe Smith

          That is where you are wrong, the famous pic of a nude girl running down the street in Viet Nam was 9 years old and on the cover of a national magazine ( I will give you that was 1972), but you can legally buy books on family nudism/ naturism that show people of all ages right from Amazon as we speak, I just looked it up right before I answered your post. Look at Amazon
          Canada Naturally Book Two (Canada Naturally, Book Two) , they even show nude children on the cover. Again, they can put kids in a book like this and call it art, but if that same kid sent that same pic to one person, it is a crime. I am not defending anything that has to do with this but what I said is true period.

  • John Q. Taxpayer

    I live in North Riidgetucky and if you want to show off your brother or sister what is wrong with that