Police: 22 teens involved in Vt. sexting ring

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) ? Nearly two dozen Vermont teenagers were involved in a sexting ring in which two of them used school-issued computers to access indecent photos and videos of female classmates, police said Thursday.

Five boys admitted viewing 30 to 40 images and three videos, many of which were sent by cellphone, Milton police said. Two of the boys used school-issued laptop computers to access and distribute the images, police said. The Milton Independent first reported the story on Wednesday.

The girls took photos of themselves and sent them to the boys, who forwarded them to the shared email account, Milton Police Detective Cpl. Paul Locke said. He said 17 girls aged 14 to 17 were in the photos, many of which qualify as child pornography.

“Technically a majority is considered child pornography because it is indecent material of a juvenile,” he said.

Former Milton School Superintendent Martin Waldron has said that school officials became aware of the case on Feb. 17, when a student who felt victimized came forward with “concerns about distribution of inappropriate pictures.” School officials then heard from more students and turned the case over to police, he said.

All of the teens had taken responsibility for what they had done, Locke said. The teens will not face criminal charges but must attend mandatory sessions with a community justice board, police said.

Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said he thought the punishment should be educational not punitive.

“I think it’s incumbent on us to educate them about frankly the consequences of their actions,” he said. “When you send these images out, you lose control of them and there’s going consequences … and we really need to educate young people about frankly some of the dangers of technology.”

The Associated Press left a message for school officials.

Vermont passed a law in 2009 that permits prosecutors to send teenage cell phone “sexting” cases to juvenile courts to eliminate the stigma of child pornography convictions.