PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Portage Public Safety is investigating two separate cases of sexting at Portage Northern High School. Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages through a mobile phone or social media.
This dangerous trend is putting teenagers at risk of being charged with child pornography. Police tell Newschannel 3 in the last three months they've had three cases of sexting at the high school. Police say they find many parents are in denial that their teens would do something like this.
"People don't understand the seriousness of what's going on," said Officer Ron Clark with Portage Public Safety. Sexting is something Officer Clark tells us is spreading like wildfire in West Michigan high schools. "They're doing this at home, in their bathroom, in their bedroom, it's brought to school where it's brought to our attention," said Officer Clark.
Officer Clark says right now he is investigating two separate cases of sexting. In both incidents he says a boy and a girl in a relationship shared a nude photo with the promise of keeping it private, but that trust was broken. Now police say at least a half dozen male and female students are in danger of being charged with either possessing, distributing, or producing child pornography which carries a max penalty of 20 years in prison.
It's unfortunate for the people whose photographs are out there in cyberspace because they are always going to be out there, they are never coming back, and that's the biggest shock to them," said Officer Clark. Portage Police say they are currently working with Facebook, Twitter and wireless companies to track IP addresses, which are basically digital fingerprints that point back to the people involved in sexting.
Sarah Baker with Portage Public Schools tells us one of the cases started with students before the school year even began. "We look at these situations, whenever a student makes a mistake at school we use it as an opportunity to learn, and we are working with the child to make better decisions in the future, we are working with their family," said Sarah Baker the Community Relations Manager for Portage Public Schools.
Baker says if police decide to move forward with requesting charges, those same students may also face expulsion. Monday Portage Public Schools sent a flyer home to 5,000 parents. It gives tips and guidelines to parents if they are planning on buying a smart phone for their teenager this Christmas. ..Source.. by NewsChannel3.com
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December 10, 2013
December 9, 2013
The Pennsylvania state Senate approved another bill in a wide-ranging response to the Jerry Sandusky and Catholic clergy molestation scandals. Senators on Monday unanimously approved a bill to increase the degree of child pornography crimes.
The bill goes to the House, which previously approved a similar version. Under the bill, producing, disseminating or viewing child pornography would be considered more serious crimes if the material depicts indecent contact with a child.
That would make the production of child pornography as high as a first-degree felony on a second and any subsequent offense. Other related bills pending in the Legislature would increase the punishment for people found guilty of covering up child abuse and expand the list of people required to report a suspicion of child abuse. ..Source.. by WJAC.com
December 5, 2013
A Temecula father, his teen daughter and her friend have pleaded guilty in connection with the vigilante beating of a man the girl had accused of raping her.
The father, David Ray Mills, 36, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Dec. 4, to being an accessory to the Jan. 13 attack at a Temecula park in which Miguel Esteban Cruz, 20, was beaten with a baseball bat. Mills was sentenced to four years’ probation and time served.
Mills’ 16-year-old daughter, who was charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to time served and four years’ probation. The Press-Enterprise does not routinely identify victims of sexual crimes.
Her friend, Andre Edwin Dickerson Jr., 21, who carried out the beating, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to six years in prison.
All three defendants had been charged with attempted murder, mayhem and vandalism. But those charges were dismissed as part of the defendants’ agreements with prosecutors.
John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney’s office, said in a written statement that prosecutors reached the plea agreements after a thorough review of the evidence.
“We believe the pleas and sentences in this case reflect what would have happened had the case proceeded to trial,” Hall said.
The beating victim, now 21, also was charged with a crime after the girl’s allegations came to light following the attack. Cruz pleaded guilty in September to sodomy with a minor. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 20.
Riverside County sheriff’s investigators have said the girl, then 15, lured Cruz to Kent Hintergardt Memorial Park the night of Jan. 13. Dickerson beat him with a wooden baseball bat as Mills and his daughter watched. Dickerson then smashed the windows out of Cruz’s van and left him lying in the park, court records say.
Cruz, who said he was struck 15 or more times, suffered skull fractures, large cuts to his scalp that required more than two dozen staples, a lung injury, a mangled ear, missing teeth, several broken bones and more, Investigator David Gorlicki testified during a preliminary hearing in June at the Southwest Justice Center in French Valley.
Initially, Cruz lied to a deputy about why he was at the park, but he later admitted he went to meet the girl. He told the deputy that he didn’t think she was responsible for the attack and didn’t want to involve her.
Gorlicki said the girl never reported the allegations of sexual assault to police, and she didn’t tell Dickerson or her father about it until the day of the attack. The girl said Cruz raped her in November when she spent the night at his Temecula home. She said she had been drinking vodka and passed out on Cruz’s bed.
In the days leading up to the baseball bat attack, Cruz sent the girl a slew of obscene text messages suggesting they meet again to have sex, drink and smoke marijuana.
At one point, the girl sent Cruz a text asking why he was trying to have sex with a 16-year-old.
“It’s the thing I do,” he replied. ..Source.. by SARAH BURGE
LANSING, Michigan — The Michigan House has voted to give legal protection to teen prostitutes in an attempt to address human trafficking.
A bill approved unanimously Wednesday would require that when people under age 18 are charged with prostitution, it's presumed that they were coerced into it. They would be subject to temporary protective custody, and police would have to immediately report a suspected human trafficking violation to state social workers.
The legislation is based on a recent recommendation from the state's first human trafficking commission to create a "safe harbor" provision for minors. Bill sponsor Rep. Eileen Kowall, a White Lake Republican, says the state should help victims rebuild their lives instead of arresting them.
The bill and a related one now go to the Senate for consideration. ..Source.. by The Republic
December 4, 2013
Police chief to decide which offenders are exempt
The San Antonio City Council will vote Thursday on an ordinance that bans adult registered sex offenders from entering into city parks.
Registrants would not be allowed to loiter within 300 feet of a park or live within 1,000 feet of a park unless they already do. The ban will not apply to juvenile offenders.
“Common sense is that you're always aware of your surroundings, but at the same time, if we know there’s a potentially dangerous individual in the park and we can remove that person, that improves safety,” said District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules. “I'm sure police are going to know the worst-case offenders by sight and at that point they'll be able to remove them.”
The portion of the River Walk between Lexington Avenue and Alamo Street will be included in the ban, but only at the river level, not the street level.
Critics of the ban argue that it will have unintended consequences.
“We know from research and statistics that these type of restrictions don’t work,” said Mary Sue Mulnar, executive director of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice.
Mulnar’s organization advocates for the promotion of common-sense and research-based laws involving registered sex offenders.
“We are receiving calls from registrants. They’re inquiring about waiting at bus stops for their busses. They're asking about taking their children to the park. They’re asking about working near a park. It’s already created a lot of confusion,” she said.
Exemptions from the ordinance will be offered on a case-by-case basis. Registered offenders must write a letter explaining why the policy will cause unnecessary hardship and ask for an exemption.
The policy’s current draft says the chief of the San Antonio Police Department will determine who receives an exemption.
A public hearing is not mandatory and the decision is final.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a situation where the police chief also acted as judge and jury,” Mulnar said. “I don't see how anything can be determined by a letter. So it could come down to who is the better letter writer.”
The law will not go into effect until the first quarter of 2014 and Soules said that should give the city enough time to iron out the details surrounding the exemption process.
“We’re going through the process over the next 90 days to look at, specifically, if there's a more detailed way to look at (exemptions),” he said.
Soules said the time between the vote and when the law goes into effect will also allow the city to determine the proper park signage and work on a public education campaign to inform offenders of the new law.
Soules said more than 100 municipalities in Texas have similar laws, but San Antonio would by far be the largest to do so.
Mulnar believes much more research is needed before a vote, but she said city council members haves been unresponsive to the information her organization has sent to them.
“They have a responsibility to fully inform every registrant,” she said.
The city will vote on the issue during their regularly scheduled A-Session meeting on Thursday at 9 a.m. inside City Hall. ..Source.. by Cory Smith