UPDATE: 13-year-old girl and her mother arrested in Waveland in alleged 'sextortion' case
By Geoff Belcher
Sep 27, 2013, 23:21
The Waveland Police Department on Tuesday arrested a 13-year-old girl in connection with an alleged "sextortion" case for electronically circulating indecent photos of another teen.
The girl was charged through the Hancock County Youth Court for “Posting of messages through electronic media for purpose of causing injury to any person,” Waveland Police Chief David Allen said in a statement issued Wednesday. "This charge was related to indecent images of another 13-year-old girl which were redistributed to numerous others, via a cell phone app, for the purposes of cyber bullying.
"The images and cyber bullying had occurred over the prior two and a half months, but no one contacted our police department about the situation until about two weeks ago. By this point, the images had been traded among numerous kids. Other cell phones belonging to various children have also been confiscated and are being examined for their part in sending and receiving the images. More participants are being identified and located."
The mother of the juvenile suspect was also arrested, Allen said, but her identity is being withheld to protect the identity of the children involved.
"The mother was charged with one misdemeanor count of Contributing to the Delinquency of a child and one misdemeanor count of Contributing to the Neglect of a child for her knowledge of the incident and lack of supervision of her child," Allen said.
The woman was later released on a $2,000 bond.
Allen said that an analysis of the victim’s cell phone found that a suspect using a fake identity on Kik Messenger had talked the girl into sending a few indecent images and then extorted the girl into sending more pictures under the threat of having her illicit pictures sent out. The person eventually sent them out anyway, Allen said.
"We are working on identifying and locating this person," Allen said. "This act of blackmailing someone for indecent images is commonly called 'sextortion' and is a growing problem with adults and children. The crime happens to both boys and girls."
The Waveland Police Department is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) taskforce, which is headed by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, and the Gulf Coast Cyber Crime Taskforce. The department usually works two or three sexting cases per month and has worked numerous sextortion cases recently, Allen said.
"If the department is notified early in a sexting case, the images can usually be found and deleted before they are widely distributed," Allen said. "In past months, children in Waveland as young as 10 years old have been found sending grossly indecent images to others."
Allen said he and the department are working on setting up some age appropriate classes with the Bay-Waveland School District to speak with children about sexting, sextortion, and possession of indecent images.
"The Waveland Police Department is asking parents to please watch what your children are doing on their cell phones and computers," Allen said. "We understand parents often don’t understand new technology so we are putting together some classes to teach parents about sexting, sextortion, child pornography, and cyber bullying issues. These will be free to the public and their dates and locations will be announced in the future. These classes will also give parents some basic knowledge of cell phones and other technology so they can more effectively monitor and understand what their children are doing."
If you believe that your or any other child has been sending illicit images of themselves, or is being sextorted or cyber bullied, please notify your local police department.