A major sexting scandal has erupted at a high school located in Newtown, Connecticut, the town that saw a tragic school shooting in 2012.
Newtown, CT, which made national headlines in the aftermath of a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is garnering attention again after law enforcement arrested three juveniles on sex crime charges in connection with what is said to be a “sexting ring.” In addition to arresting the three main suspects in the case, law enforcement issued juvenile referrals to 20 other students at the Connecticut high school.
Although local police and school officials have been investigating the reported sexting ring at Newtown High School for six months, the public only recently became aware of the allegations. The investigation was spurred by the discovery of sexually explicit “selfies” being created by underage students and then disseminated to other students at the high school. A resource officer was reportedly one of the first adults to learn about the illegal activity, which is said to involve a number of male students and female students.
Complicating matters for investigators, and making the story even more salacious, was a report that some students were actually selling the sexually explicit photographs.
The minors who were placed under arrest have been charged with possession of child pornography and transmission of child pornography. Under state laws, a juvenile who is convicted on these misdemeanor sex crime charges faces a punishment of up to one year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $2,000. Meanwhile, the 20 minors who were merely issued referrals in the case will have to go before a community-based juvenile review board and complete a probationary program.
Sexting Laws in New Jersey
The laws in New Jersey governing sexting by minors are particularly severe. Anyone who uses a cell phone to distribute nude, sexually explicit or even sexually suggestive photographs of a child under the age of 18 in New Jersey can potentially be prosecuted for distribution of child pornography. Law enforcement and prosecutors are allowed to use their discretion in these cases.
Additionally, although minors who are caught sending sexually explicit texts face harsh penalties, NJ lawmakers took a step in 2014 to ensure that a young person who uses a cell phone to sext will not be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
To learn more about the Newtown sexting scandal, view the Hartford Courant article, “‘Sexting’ Investigation Leads to 3 Arrests, 20 Juvenile Referrals in Newtown.”
If your child has been accused of sexting, possession of child pornography, an Internet sex crime or any other sexual offense in New Jersey, it is imperative that you talk to a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. The aggressive criminal defense lawyers at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC can help you fight the charges. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.