Chesterton Tribune



Parents, do you know whats on your child's phone? CHS students found in possession of sexted photo

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Duneland School Corporation officials, in conjunction with the Chesterton Police Department, is investigating an incident in which Chesterton High School students were discovered to be in possession, on school property, of an “indecent” photograph of two of their classmates engaged in a sexual act.

That photo was found on the cell phones of several CHS students, who apparently were showing it to others at school and in the process causing a ruckus which initially prompted teachers to intervene.

Duneland Superintendent David Pruis declined to discuss the matter this morning, except to confirm this account of the incident, as the Chesterton Tribune has pieced it together:

Two CHS students, a boy and a girl, both younger than 16, were engaged in an intimate act at a private residence, off school property, in unincorporated Porter County. Unknown to them, another juvenile, a boy but not a CHS student, photographed them. It is unclear what exactly happened next or who is responsible but the photo was then either texted to other parties or uploaded directly to social media or first texted and then uploaded.

DSC officials knew nothing about the photograph in question until it was found on the phones of several CHS students on school property. The officials then began an investigation and at the same time brought it to the attention of the Chesterton Police Department, which opened its own investigation.

Sometime later, someone--for reasons best known to him- or herself--contacted Channel 7 News in Chicago, which is now running a story sourced entirely by CHS students.

The Tribune, meanwhile, has learned this:

* Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski was planning to meet late this afternoon with DSC officials and other parties to discuss his department’s interest in the case: whether the CPD will pursue a charge against students discovered to have had the photo on their phones or other devices or known to have distributed it to others. Given the age of the students involved, the photo could be considered child pornography. Cincoski told the Tribune that he expects to release a statement on Wednesday morning.

* Porter County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel, for his part, confirmed that his office is “working with the Chesterton PD and will review its investigation when it is completed and at that time will determine if any criminal charges or delinquency petitions will be filed.”

* Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said that no one, to his knowledge, has filed any complaint in connection either with the taking of the photograph in the first place--which occurred in the unincorporated Wheeler area--or with the photo’s subsequent electronic dissemination, wherever in fact that may have happened. Nor, to this point, has any other law enforcement agency referred the matter to the PCSP, LaFlower said.

The DSC did e-mail the following statement to CHS parents on Monday:

“Duneland School Corporation strives to maintain a safe and secure environment for its students. We were recently made aware of a sexting incident involving students that attend Chesterton High School in an indecent photo that was taken in a private residence outside school corporation boundaries and distributed outside of school via text and social media. We are unable to discuss any specifics due to student privacy and confidentiality issues.

“Following completion of the investigation, a report will be forwarded to juvenile authorities for their review. We appreciate our parent and community partners as we continue our efforts to ensure a safe school environment.”

Persons familiar with the case have all emphasized one thing to the Tribune: the CPD does not release any specific information about the delinquency charges which it files; and DSC officials, in the interest of students’ privacy, do not under any circumstances discuss particular disciplinary actions.



Posted 11/11/2014




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