Two Lacey teens arrested in sexting case
Two Lacey teens arrested in 'sexting' case: Nude Photo: It spreads quickly among students at middle school
LACEY — Lacey police arrested two middle school students Tuesday — a 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl — for allegedly sending photo messages of a naked 14-year-old girl to classmates via a cellphone.
The students were arrested on suspicion of dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. They were released from juvenile detention Wednesday after their hearings in Thurston County Juvenile Court.
Thurston County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Peters said that it is the first case involving alleged "sexting" to cross his desk.
"Technically, they're in possession of child pornography," Peters said. "Based upon the ages of all the kids involved, it's tragic."
Dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct is a class C felony, and a conviction carries a requirement to register as a sex offender. For students with no prior criminal history, the charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in juvenile detention, Peters said. Neither of the students arrested Tuesday has a criminal history.
The investigation is continuing and includes a third female suspect who could face a criminal charge in juvenile court, Peters said.
"This is a huge concern for law enforcement," he said.
The investigation has revealed that the 14-year-old boy previously dated the 14-year-old girl, Lacey Police Lt. Jim Mack said. After they broke up, the boy sent a message with the nude photo of the former girlfriend to a 13-year-old girl, Mack said. The 13-year-old girl transmitted the photo to another girl, and the photo has spread quickly to students throughout the school district, Mack said.
"People just kind of started sharing it," he said. "We hope that people wouldn't engage in this type of activity."
The investigation is focusing on students who have forwarded the photo to others, not all students who received it, Mack said.
Mack said the offending photo was taken in a mirror by the alleged victim.
A number of middle school students' cellphones have been seized as evidence by the Lacey Police Department, Peters said.
Mack and prosecutors emphasized Thursday that parents need to talk with their children about sending inappropriate messages from their cellphones. Parents also need to be aware of their children's behavior regarding use of technology, such as laptop computers and other social media, he said.
"It's something we see a lot more nowadays," Mack said.
The middle school principal sent a letter home to parents Thursday stating that "sexting" is a serious crime.
Peters said "it's a terrible lesson to learn" for the students who now find themselves in juvenile court.
"This isn't a joke," he said.
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