Barrington Middle School students charged in 'sexting' case

May 1, 2014 (BARRINGTON, Ill.)

The two boys, both 14 years old, are charged with possession of child pornography. Police say the boys have been released to their parents as they wait for a date in juvenile court.

The charges were announced as students were leaving school. Some parents left feeling conflicted that the case had become criminal.

"I find that very surprising, although I'm not familiar with the specifics of the case warrant what merited that," said Gwen Cieslak, Barrington Middle School parent.

"It's sad. It's sad, and it's scary. I don't think that the kids that were involved knew the repercussions of what they were doing," said Melissa Buckley, Barrington Middle School parent.

Police charged the two 14-year-old boys, both students at Barrington Middle School-Station Campus, with possession of child pornography, a felony. The boys are to be prosecuted as juveniles.

"You know, I don't want to weigh in on the criminal activity aspect of it. Our job is to focus on the educational part of it," said Craig Winkelman, principal, Barrington Middle School-Station Campus.

"We're saddened that young people made some poor decisions and we want to treat this as a teachable moment: a teachable moment for our students, and a teachable moment for our community. We want to use this as a time to reinforce what we can do together to help prevent this in the future," said Cindy Jaskowiak, Asst. Superintendent, Barrington School District 220.

Police say the boys texted sexually-explicit videos and photographs of fellow female students to multiple people. The month-long investigation, police say, included analysis of the boys' phones at an FBI digital forensics lab. Police have declined to say how the boys allegedly obtained the images.

"The students that became aware of it came to report it to our counselor and to our administrators. Some kids even went and reported it to their parents, and those parents called in," said Winkelman.

On Wednesday, a similar middle school sexting case came to light in Batavia, and another case was reported last month in Homer Glen. None yielded criminal charges until now.

"Just start talking to your children as early as possible, and really help them make decisions and be aware of how they're using their technology," said Joann Robbins, president, Parent-Teacher Organization.

School administrators declined to say if the two boys have been suspended or expelled. Barrington's police chief declined an on-camera interview but said in an email he does not anticipate additional students will be charged.

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