Authorities bust massive teen sexting spree in central VA - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Authorities bust massive teen sexting spree, over 100 teens involved

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GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) -

Six Central Virginia counties are working to bust a sexting spree. Officers say more than 1,000 inappropriate pictures and videos, involving 100 area teens have popped up online.

 

Right now, authorities have two dozen cell phones in their possession to get to the bottom of the crime. When it comes to this activity, Goochland Sheriff Jim Agnew says teens may not realize what they're really getting into.

 

"It happens everyday," said Goochland High student Courtney Winston.

 

That's what Louisa authorities discovered when a parent noticed something strange on her child's Instagram account. An investigation uncovered more than 1,000 inappropriate pictures and videos online involving teens in Louisa, Hanover and Goochland. The Instagram account directed teens to another site that they could only access if they submitted photos of themselves.

 

"I think if people thought for a minute and didn't do that, they'd save themselves a lot of grief…They're having fun but I can tell you colleges and universities, agencies who hire people, including us, look for those things and those are not going to be positive if they're found in a kids' past," Agnew said.

 

Possessing child pornography is a felony in Virginia. In this case, more than 100 youth are involved and investigators are treading carefully, since prison time and a life-long sex offender label come with the crime.

 

"Know what your child is doing. Do not give them the capability," said a parent who didn't want to be identified.

 

She has precautions in place at home.

 

"He's not allowed, he's 12 years old, [to] text, go on the Internet without supervision and hangout. It's not allowed," she said.

 

Although the activity was mostly among teens, some adults did receive the photos. Officers say they did the right thing by quickly deleting them. Knowingly keeping or forwarding explicit photos of minors is what catches the attention of law enforcement.

 

"You're a predator to me," parent Tim Robinson said.

 

Major Donald Lowe with the Louisa Sheriff's Office says Instagram cooperated with shutting down the account. He says the websites are also removed.

 

"We're trying to save these teens from themselves," Lowe said.

 

On April 10, Goochland schools will hold a roundtable with parents about the dangers of social media.

 

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