Teen ‘sexting’ pic goes viral, students and law experts speak out about the consequences

Posted at 11:37 PM, Sep 22, 2014

GRANDVILLE, Mich. - A picture showing a Grandville High School student in sexually explicit positions has gone viral on various social media platforms.  The photo is too graphic to show on the news or on our web site.

"I logged on to Facebook on Friday and I was in awe," said a classmate who reached out to FOX 17 but wanted to remain anonymous. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' Pictures of her doing what she was doing."

A virtual conversation that started online spilled over into the real world as students returned to the classroom after the weekend.

"People were making fun, even though she wasn't there," she said.  "It was just sad."

The posts also prompted a criminal investigation by Wyoming Police.

"At this point we are conducting an investigation into a photograph that was taken that's inappropriate and involves a minor," said Wyoming Police Capt. Kim Koster.

A situation like this raises a dilemma for investigators and prosecutors.

"There are no specific statutes that deal specifically with sexting," said Brett Gardner, a Western Michigan/Cooley Law School adjunct professor.  "Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages by text messaging."

Therefore, according to Gardner, law enforcement turns to existing laws that deal with child porn which come with stiff penalties that include 20 years in prison for creating the material, seven years for sending it out, and four years for possession.

"Child sexually abusive material also brings with it the fact that once convicted you have to register as a sex offender," said Gardner.

With that in mind, Gardner said, "I'm certain that it is something on all legislators mind.  How to do it and how quickly to do it, and it's something that needs to be done."

We're told the subject of the viral pictures and video was not at school on Monday.  We reached out to school officials who would only say it didn't happen on school property and that once they heard about it, they got the police involved.