|Kentucky State Trooper Stu Recke talks recently to students in Carol West’s high |
school language arts class about the serious legal consequences of sexting.
THE CRITTENDEN PRESS
What may be intended as a playful – but explicit – flirt between teenagers can haunt those people the rest of their lives, Kentucky State Police warned students recently.
Sexting between the smartphones of minors is a serious issue in the Commonwealth that can compromise the welfare and reputation of the ones who exchange or possess pornographic images of minors. And just because you are under 18 doesn’t exempt you from the felony sex offense, Trooper Stu Recke told students.
Recke, the public affairs officer for Post 2 in Madisonville, and Post Detective Lloyd Ray delivered their warning to more than 600 middle and high schoolers earlier this month at the request of school officials. High school Principal Curtis Brown, sitting in on the presentations, said he felt the message rang loud enough to cause teens to rethink sexting and perhaps even prompt a few to delete any racy photos they may have on their device.
“Don’t do it,” Recke told students. “One stupid mistake can cost you.”
The trooper explained that a teen snapping an explicit photo of themselves or another individual and delivering it digitally to someone else can constitute three felony offenses punishable by one to five years each.
“You’ve broken the law three times,” he said. “You made it. You possessed it. And you distributed it.”
And after confiscating the device, any additional explicit photos of minors found can add years to a sentence.
If convicted, a felony record can be carried by the minor offender into adulthood, eventually landing them in the state prison, forcing them – male or female – to register as a sex offender and preventing them from owning a gun, voting and other rights not extended to convicted felons.
“The laws on this are pretty darn harsh,” Recke said.
Ray, who heads up cyber sex crime investigations for Post 2, warned students that it is possible for police and pedophiles to obtain images from apps that claim to delete photos after they are viewed.
“This is not something to be taken lightly,” Ray said. “This is serious.”