EXCLUSIVE: Sexting scandal at Phoenixville High

February 10, 2011 6:46:58 AM PST
A sexting scandal at Phoenixville High School has students talking and officials issuing warnings about the law.

"Well, we received a naked picture of one of the freshman girls," sophomore Kelsi Mason said.

Kelsi received the text message last week.

She was one of dozens of students at Phoenixville High School who never met the girl in the picture, but who say they saw much more than they ever planned and that she ever intended to share.

According to students, the girl, a freshman at Phoenixville High School, took a picture of her bare chest, and sent it by cell phone to what she thought were a few close friends.

As it turns out, at least one of them forwarded it to a couple more who then sent it to a couple more.

By Friday, not only had the picture spread, but so did word about it, prompting administrators to crack down.

Students say the school confiscated the cell phones of 60 or more kids.

Phoenixville Superintendent Dr. Alan Fegley declined to detail just how many students were involved, or how, if at all, they would be punished, but says he sees this as a teachable moment and plans to hold a student assembly to talk about texting and the privacy that doesn't come with it.

"We're working with them understand how they can avoid it and what they can do to stay away from sexting," Fegley said.

Dr. Rob D'Ovidio who specializes in electronic law at Drexel University spoke to Action News about the dangers of sexting.

"Your guard is down, your perception is that you're anonymous and you're going to do things you wouldn't otherwise do in the physical world," D'Ovidio said.

He says, though kids don't often think so, simply taking a naked picture equates to being guilty of making child pornography. Anyone, of any age, caught having a copy or sending one is guilty of possession and distribution.

Though district attorneys often choose not to prosecute, the social punishment is certain.

"The danger is that it's going to come back and can come back to haunt you in the future," D'Ovidio said.