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Western Pennsylvania cell phones seized in sexting investigation

Technology in the 21st Century has made it easier for people to communicate and share information. Unfortunately, 21st Century technology has also made it easier for people to get into trouble with the law. The story of two Western Pennsylvania high school students illustrates this principle.

A male and a female student at Hempfield Area High School are now under investigation in an alleged sexting incident. Broadly defined, sexting is a play on words combining the word sex with texting and it is done by sharing sexually explicit images over a cell phone. When sexting involves a minor, it can lead to state and federal sex crime charges.

In this most recent case, law enforcement and school authorities have been somewhat tight-lipped about the details, citing confidentiality regulations. However, they have stated that the two teenagers had been in a relationship and that a breakup led to the investigation.

A state police spokesman has refused to say whether the images sent were of the students themselves or whether the students were sharing images of third parties. However, the spokesman warned that a minor could face criminal charges for sending pictures of himself or herself.

So far, the police have seized two phones. What criminal charges are filed will depend on what they find on the phones. Investigators are looking into whether the images were shared with any other people. The police are hoping to keep the images from being distributed any further, however if the contraband images were shared with others, more people could be facing felony charges.

Source: The Republic, "Police say teen breakup leads to sexting probe of students at western Pa. high school," Joe Mandak, 3/21/2011

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