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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Police Arrest 12-Year-Old Girl in Nude Photo Distribution

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UPDATE Westport police said today they have arrested a 12-year-old girl in connection with the e-mail distribution of a nude photo of a classmate to fellow students at Coleytown Middle School last month.

They said a warrant was served on the youngster Monday and she was referred to Norwalk Juvenile Court on a charge of breach of peace second degree, which involves the distribution of offensive and indecent material. Her name was not released because of her age.

Police said they began investigating the incident May 12 “upon word circulating throughout the school that a nude snapshot was taken during a video chat, this snapshot being distributed to others.” 

Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon later warned parents in a letter that middle school and high school students were involved in “criminal activity” involving distributing “live images and photographs of themselves in total nudity and engaging in inappropriate acts while in the nude.” (See WestportNow May 15, 2008)

He later told The New York Times that there was a “feeling of dismay” among Westport educators and parents over the distribution of the nude photos. WestportNow reported at the time that a 12-year-old girl had been identified as being involved. (See WestportNow May 31, 2008)

Lt. David Kassay, detective bureau commander, said the girl whose picture was circulated did not even realize her picture had been taken and sent to others until she was contacted by friends.

“The photo was then sent to several other classmates and from there it gets redistributed to others,” he said.

Mark Sherman, an attorney for the girl, initially told The Associated Press: “In light of how sensitive this case is for all the families involved, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to comment at this time.”

However, later, the Stamford-based Sherman, who is son of criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman, said his client was not the only one to circulate a nude picture.

“There were no bad intentions here,” he told News-12. “And one e-mail to another e-mail to another e-mail through the kids ended up causing some real safety concerns.”

He added, “This is a 12-year-old girl who was unfairly singled out here. She wasn’t the only one to send out e-mails here. That said, this is a very young, delicate age and to comment any further would be inappropriate for all the families involved.”

Kassay said young people who use Web cams should be aware where their cameras are pointed and that someone could take a snapshot of the video image.

Sherman said, “The big issue here is to teach these children how to use the Internet responsibly, and it’s something we’re seeing more and more in the criminal courts.”

Police said they were not seeking any other suspects in the incident.

Posted 06/24 at 06:17 PM

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