DURHAM: Sheriff Investigating online nude photos of teens - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Durham: Sheriff investigating online nude photos of teens

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The investigation into underage nude Instagram photos has made its way to Durham, the Durham Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday.

The Durham Sheriff's Office is asking students with information about Instagram accounts posting nude photos of high school and middle school students to contact a school official, law enforcement or a parent.

Durham Sheriff's Office spokesman Paul Sherwin said investigators received two separate reports involving female victims who are under 18 years old. A 17-year-old girl came forward Wednesday, and a 14-year-old Sherwood Githens Middle School student came forward Thursday.

"The fact that we got the report is good in that maybe the message is getting across to students that this is a very serious matter," Sherwin said. "It's not good if it's occurring, but we figured this thing was happening not only in Wake County, but in Durham County and likely everywhere around here."

Sherwin said investigators are researching which laws may be violated by this type of activity given those involved are likely all under 18 years of age.

"The likely ages of those involved are all under 18 and the photographs were most likely taken and distributed willingly to at least one other person," Sherwin said.

He said if all involved parties are under 18 years of age, then "if that photo is then redistributed, people use it as fodder to ostracize a student or something like that, you might have a cyberbullying charge.

"But you're not to have a dissemination of obscenity charge because both of the involved parties are under 18."

In Wake County, authorities are investigating a number of Instagram accounts after nude photos of high school students started appearing online.

A woman called Wake Forest police last week to tell them her daughter had learned that someone had posted nude photos of her on Twitter and Instagram. The girl is now 18, but the woman said the photos were from when she was 14 or 15.

According to an affidavit, Wake County Public School System security personnel found other Instagram accounts with photos of nude girls and boys. The security officials identified students at Enloe, Athens Drive, Rolesville, Holly Springs, Heritage and Middle Creek high schools.

In warrants released Tuesday, Wake Forest Police have asked for all records relating to four separate Instagram accounts -- "Wakepremiumthootss919," "Raleigh_hoes," "save_them_from" and "wake_county_hoes."

WCPSS security also identified "WCPSS thoughts," "WCPSS thoughs_," "WakeCo_hoe," "Exposing WCPSS" and "Raleigh_hoez" as other Instagram accounts containing explicit images of juveniles -- including photos of breasts, male and female genitalia, and sexual acts.

In a statement, the school system said it was continuing to work with law enforcement to investigate "criminally inappropriate use of photographs involving Wake County students."

"The school district takes such actions seriously and will assist investigators in any and all efforts to identify and prosecute offenders," Wake Schools said.

Although the Durham incidents appear to be separate from the reports in Wake County, Sherwin said increased media attention on the Wake County accounts influenced the Durham County victims to come forward. He said the Durham Sheriff's Office anticipates more students will come forward as this sort of activity becomes more public.

"I anticipate the number of reports of this nature we receive will increase as children and parents become more aware of this type of behavior on social media," Sherwin said.

Durham Public Schools said it is working with school resource officers "to implement an educational campaign to reiterate the seriousness and potentially life-changing consequences of unsafe behavior online."


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