Nude photos turn up on New Jersey students' cellphones

Toni Yates reports on a sexting scandals involving middle schoolers in the Basking Ridge section of New Jersey. (WABC)
May 12, 2014 2:53:30 PM PDT
A sexting scandal has erupted at a middle school in New Jersey.

Administrators from the school in Basking Ridge in Somerset County say nude photos of students were discovered on several cell phones.

Now the school is offering students a chance to clean things up before criminal charges are filed.

The superintendent sent a letter about it to parents.

"My goal was to send a message over the weekend to parents and ask them for their help so hopefully we can put this thing to bed and not be dealing with it for weeks to come," said Bernards Township Superintendent Nick Markarian, "because it keeps cropping up on someone else's phone or someone else's compupter, so let's get rid of it all now and put it to rest.

Markarian won't say how many students snapped nude shots of themselves and sent them out. But the pictures started showing up on the phones of a few Annin Middle School kids' cellphones. A parent saw one and called police.

"Sexting type images or inappropriate images of a sexual nature that were transmitted to a child," said Captain Mike Shimsky of the Basking Ridge police. "We're trying to track down all the victims and phones that have the images on them."

The district sent letters home May 9th, letting parents know that Sunday was the last chance their children would have to delete the photos, or face disciplinary action through the school and possibly the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, which oversees all serious crimes that could lead to charges.

And nude pictures of middle school students, because they're under 16, reaches the level of child pornography.

One mother who has two kids at the middle school saw the letter, but she also watches much more.

"I have a 6th grader and I check her texts all the time. I have a 5th grader and she learns from her older sister," said parent Felice Fullen. "You have to stay on top of it and watch what they're doing and really be informed."