HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) — Caught sexting at just 12 years old?
Hastings Police are investigating two separate cases involving four children ranging in age from 12 to 15 years old.
“There were pictures of themselves in various stages of undress that were sent via text message to another person,” said Hastings Police Chief Paul Schnell. “These are not just little local incidents. These now become international cases because of the potential they’re sold in other places in the world.”
The first case involves a 12 and 13-year-old sending naked photos to each other. The other involves a middle school girl sending photos to her boyfriend.
Defense Attorney Phil Villaume of “Villaume and Schiek” said these cases tend to start with two teens courting each other and can then explode.
“These up on Facebook and we don’t know what other social media settings,” Villaume said. “It’s just all out there for other people to see and take in.”
Both Schnell and Villaume said that’s why the teens could face felony charges, because the images could be distributed and considered child pornography.
“Especially when it raises to the level of child pornography and it opens the door for all kinds of allegations of sexual misconduct,” said Villaume.
If you think criminal charges are too harsh, police have this warning.
“Having these images out there for the world to see forever is a perhaps an even greater consequence,” said Chief Schnell. “This could end up in the hands of some predator, sex offender or someone that could ultimately sell their images to other people.”
In this case, Schnell said that’s why parents alerted police.
“The fear obvious is that it’s not just the interaction, which is bad enough, but the opportunity that the messages are forwarded to a lot of people,” said Schnell.
Police are now investigating the digital footprint from the photos they found, both cell phone and online records, to see if others could be involved.