GREENSBURG (KDKA) — Two Greensburg Salem Middle School students are among the first to be charged under a new state law that regulates sexting among teens.
“A 13-year-old girl took a photo; she was naked from the waist up, took a picture of herself and sent it to a 14-year-old boy at his request,” said Detective Sgt. Henry Fontana, of Greensburg Police.
The boy deleted the photo and did not forward it to friends. It was the girl’s mother who later found the photo on her phone and called police.
“Under the new law that just went into effect on Christmas Eve, that is a summary offense,” said Detective Sgt. Fontana.
The new law creates a tiered system for adjudicating sexting cases that differentiates between those who make bad decisions and those who have bad intentions.
Under the new law, minors over the age of 12 charged for the first time will get a summary citation. A second offense will result in a misdemeanor charge.
Felony child pornography laws remain on the books and could still apply if the photos are distributed with malicious intent.
Attorney Anthony Bompiani, who does not represent anyone involved in the Greensburg Salem case, says this is important for young people who may make a bad decision without realizing the potential consequences.
“Now with the times and the technology and the way students interact between each other, they make mistakes, they make bad judgment calls, stupid calls; and instead of having a felony record, they’re going to have a summary offense, which is going to be like a traffic ticket – won’t be on the record, it won’t affect them later in life,” said Bompiani.
The law also provides an important tool for police who previously had no alternative to a child pornography charge when dealing with less serious sexting cases.
“It’s still wrong, it’s still against the law and the kids need to know that, but this makes it a little easier to cope with,” said Detective Sgt. Fontana.