UPDATED 2:36 PM – An estimated 200 or more Livingston County students could face criminal charges for possessing a cell phone picture of a naked Pinckney High School student – a photo the girl took herself and shared with friends who forwarded it to others, police say.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department has confiscated a dozen phones containing the photograph and is asking any students who have the photo to turn in their cellular phones at the school or Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Bob Bezotte said the 19-year-old girl indicated that she “was clowning around” when she took the picture of herself during the summer showing her vaginal area and sent that photograph to three or four friends’ cell phones.
That picture – with her face visible – then became a “hot topic” when school started after students learned about its existence and began asking to have it forwarded to their cell phones, Bezotte said. In all, a detective estimates the photograph has been shared with more than 200 other people, the sheriff added.“There is good reason to believe it’s gone beyond Pinckney boundaries,” Bezotte said.
Superintendent Dan Danosky of Pinckney Community Schools said no students have been suspended as a result of the incident, but that could change once the investigation is completed.“If it was a prank gone awry, that is different than if it was intentional distribution of inappropriate photograph,” he said. “We will learn from the Sheriff’s (Department) what is the situation and will take action based on that.”
Danosky said school officials will send a letter home with parents today explaining the situation.The Detroit Free Press reported that the girl’s mother declined through the superintendent to talk about how the incident has affected her family.
Prosecutor David Morse said his office is aware of the allegations, but has not yet received a completed police report. He declined to comment on whether he will issue charges.
“If, during the course of the investigation, cell phones are discovered with this type of material, the cell phones will be confiscated and not returned,” Morse noted.Bezotte said police learned about the photograph in mid-September when the principal approached members of the Sheriff’s Department’s Tactical Team, which was training at the school.
Police subsequently confiscated a dozen phones containing the sexually explicit photograph and believe there are many more out there, he added.
Police have not been able to determine if the photograph has made it to the Web, Bezotte said, but that is a concern.
This is not the first time in Livingston County a student has taken and shared an inappropriate photograph via cell phone. A 19-year-old male was charged in juvenile court for sending a picture of his genitals to a classmate he liked, but who did not return the boy’s amorous feelings, and a 19-year-old girl was charged after taking photographs of her breasts, which a teacher discovered after the phone rang during school hours.
They were subsequently placed in the diversion program, which has probation-like requirements but leaves them with no criminal record.“Not only is it illegal, it’s extremely dangerous,” Morse said. “A predator looks at something like that and considers it an invitation when clearly it’s not meant to be.”