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Middle school students accused of child pornography

By Greg Lee, KESQ News Channel 3 Reporter & Sports Anchor, glee@kesq.com
Published On: Feb 05 2013 10:51:21 PM CST
PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Two Palm Desert Charter middle school students could face charges of child pornography after they posted a sexually explicit photo of a minor to a social media website.  The school is working in conjunction with the Riverside Sheriff's Department to investigate the situation.  "Naturally when you're involving children under the age of 18, and you have sexually explicit pictures, that is a crime," said Lieutenant Lori Marquette.  "It's child pornography, so we would get involved to investigate that."
    
Though they don't have immediate jurisdiction over the charter school, Desert Sands Unified School District is working with Palm Desert Charter to also investigate this situation. Sherry Johnstone, the public information officer for the district, released this statement:

Desert Sands Unified School District takes situations like this very, very seriously.  We have an obligation to protect and educate our students and it is very important that we follow all of the guidelines in the rules not to mention the ethics of these situations.

Palm Desert Charter Middle school temporarily suspended both students, but it could get a lot worse.  "Well, they would face charges like they would an adult, you know if you're taking inappropriate pictures and the person is under the age of 18, then you're pretty much manufacturing child pornography" said Marquette.  "If you send it to someone else, then you're distributing pornography, they would be charged the same as an adult."

The situation serves as a warning to parents to always be aware of how their kids are using technology.  "You know maybe check your child's phone, periodically, build a trust with the child on who they're calling and who they're contacting" said Marquette.  "And what type of pictures they're taking."