Teens in Three Rivers school sexting investigation may face charges


Three teens involved in a sexting investigation at Three Rivers Middle School are now facing the sex offender registry, probation, or deferred sentencing.

The St Joseph County Prosecutor's Office has the case now and is deciding if one boy who allegedly took nude pictures -- and two girls who shared them -- should face criminal charges.

"Don't tell them what state you live in. Don't tell them your name. Don't tell them your birth date. Absolutely no personal information."

That's the advice Jen Turner gives her three kids about the danger of social media.

"You have 12-year-olds wanting to be 20-year-olds now, and people that are preying on small children and I'm going to do my best to not have that happen," said Turner.

Police say a boy under the age of 15 took nude pictures of himself on a girl's phone. That girl then sent the photos to others - who eventually turned them into school officials.

"In this day and age with the social media it's brutal," said Detective Sgt. Mike Mohney with Three Rivers Police. "In that it leads to -- the sexting leads to -- bullying kids. They're made fun of, which leads to real severe things like people committing suicide or violent crimes against others because they're so embarrassed about it."

Mohney says the department investigates about 10 sexting cases each year.

"We don't even know about the ones that aren't reported that parents may find...of pictures on their kids' phones at home or something else," said Mohney.

This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened at Three Rivers Middle School. Almost one year ago an incident happened involving 12 students.

The St. Joseph County, Michigan Prosecutor's Office would not say if charges resulted from that investigation because it involves a juvenile, but Sgt. Mohney says it's happening everywhere and parents need to take a proactive approach.

"I don't think the parents realize it, that I got a good kid I don't have to worry about them," said Mohney. "It's not always the typical juvenile delinquent kids that are doing this; it's the good kids that just get caught up in this."

That's why Turner says monitoring her kids' social media and phones are part of her daily routine.

"There's a difference between invading their privacy and being protective, and I'm just being protective because that's my job," she said.

The boy was preliminarily charged with Manufacturing Child Sexually Abusive Material. Both girls have been charged with Distribution. The prosecutor's office is still reviewing whether official charges should be filed.

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