DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Douglas County Sheriff’s investigators announced Tuesday that no charges will be filed against any of the juveniles involved in the recent sexting investigation at Chaparral High School in Parker.
Earlier this month, deputies seized cell phones and other devices from at least eight middle school students and students at Chaparral High School.
FOX31 Denver spoke exclusively with one of the teens and his family. The boy, whose name we are not disclosing, says he receives dozens of texts a day and thought nothing of it when he received an unsolicited text from a high school girl he’d recently met. Attached to the text was a picture of the girl topless.
“Like, I didn’t know what it was until I opened it and I went 'whoa.'" He says he didn’t show or send the picture to anyone and soon thereafter lost the phone.
But he says he got called to the principal’s office two weeks ago and deputies told his family he was under investigation.
“I was horrified,” says his mother, Marnie.
She says investigators explained her son could be charged with a felony and, if convicted, be required to register as a sex offender. She says the investigator went through a long list of educational and employment opportunities that would be closed to her son because of a sex crime conviction.
“I just didn’t have any idea that something like this could get this big,” she says, adding it isn’t right that her son could be charged with a crime simply for receiving a picture that he never asked for or knew was coming.
Marnie wants to caution other families.
“These kids and parents need to know you can ruin your life," she says. "You can damage somebody else's life. It’s not something that you can take lightly.”
She says she’s talked to her kids about “stranger danger” and predators but never imagined she would have to talk to them about being accused of child pornography.
She says parents need to tell their kids, “If you get something, anything, that you are unsure of that comes across on a text or anything like you’re uncertain of or bothers you, let me know."
The family is relieved there won’t be any charges. Other states have decriminalized sexting between juveniles, requiring kids to go through an educational program rather than the criminal court system.
And this family thinks that might be a good idea for Colorado, too.