'Sexting' teens won't be prosecuted
Greensburg police have withdrawn summary charges against two Greensburg Salem Middle School students over a sexting incident, the chief said Friday.
The alleged incident occurred before a new Pennsylvania law took effect to regulate sending sexually explicit photos by cellphone, Chief Walter “Wally” Lyons said.
Because of that, police would have been required to file felony charges, the most serious possible, against the pair, using the old law, he said.
“We're withdrawing the charges because there was some confusion,” Lyons said. “The case was reported after the new law was signed, but the incident occurred before the new law (took effect).
“We don't believe the offense warrants prosecution under the existing law at that time, which would be a felony,” Lyons added.
Under the previous law for sexting, police could have filed child pornography charges.
In October, Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation that creates a tiered system to adjudicate cases. It reduces consensual sending of explicit photos between minors older than 12 to a summary offense, the least serious criminal charge.
The law took effect Dec. 14.
During the fall, the 13-year-old girl used her cellphone to send a topless photo of herself to the 14-year-old boy at his request, police said. The boy deleted the photo and didn't show it to others, Detective Sgt. Henry Fontana said.
The two exchanged the photo over a weekend, away from the middle school, Superintendent Eileen Amato said.
The girl's mother discovered the photo and reported the incident to police. Investigators analyzed both cellphones.
Police spoke with the children's parents while considering withdrawing the charges. The parents decided to address the incident with their children, and police agreed to that, Lyons said.
The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania had threatened to sue, saying the charges should not have been filed. The new law was intended to be used for more serious sexting offenses, Witold “Vic” Walczak maintained.
The ACLU played no factor in the decision to withdraw the charges, Lyons said.
A national discussion about sexting hit home when six Greensburg Salem High School students were involved in the exchange of explicit photos in 2008. The six were charged with felony offenses. At that time, critics said the law was too harsh for minors.
Five of the six students facing a child pornography charge were ordered by a juvenile court judge to take part in educational programs. One of the teens, who had a previous juvenile record, was placed on probation for a year.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State woos Kennametal with $1M in incentives to stay in Pa.
- Jeannette mom accused of drug sale with kids in car
- Arnold man acquitted in rape case
- Greensburg Salem school bus route changes complete
- Democrats go on offense in Westmoreland County commission debate
- Ohio woman will be millionth passenger to fly out of Arnold Palmer airport
- Kennametal HQ relocation rankles Westmoreland County business leadership
- Southmoreland directors to seek loan info from banks as state budget impasse continues
- Laurel Ridge rangers on watch for sexual misconduct in park
- Grandparents’ bids for child custody imperiled
- Mt. Pleasant school board to discuss website plan