Phones confiscated during police investigation at Avon High School

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AVON – Detectives are using forensics to copy Avon High School students’ cell phones onto their system in order to investigate, after inappropriate images were shared among classmates.Avon Detective Brian Nugent said they believe they have confiscated the cell phones of the main players at the center of this investigation. They are looking through nearly a dozen phones. In some cases, authorities are able to recover photographs that may have been deleted.

Some cell phones take 2 to 4 hours to copy over and others may take longer. Avon Detective Jeremy Chapman said they have had their forensics software for 2 years.

“Software like this is able to…..(it) allows us to go in and pinpoint everywhere that image is and (then we’ll) know where we need to go to delete it,” Detective Chapman said.

Detectives believe less than 12 boys were involved and 5 or 6 girls, whose pictures were shared. Authorities were notified about this possible large inappropriate social media behavior on Wednesday. Detective Nugent said the school system had started interviewing students.

“I think the point we’re trying to hammer home with our students is that when you send a photograph of yourself on the internet it’s going to be there forever and to be able to track it is nearly impossible and removing it is also impossible,” Detective Nugent said.

No one has been arrested. The investigation is in its early stages. Detectives need to see what they find on the phones -first- in order to progress with their investigation. They have noticed a trend. Some of the students hid the images in an app on their phones. When you look at the phone, it may look like a calculator app was downloaded, but that is not the case. You have to type a special code intro the “calculator” and the screen will change to the true image. It’s a secret place where the inappropriate images were stored.

“We encourage parents to educate themselves. (They should) take time to look at the apps that are on the phones,” Detective Nugent said.

Students could be charged for having in their possession child porn or for taking a picture of themselves and sharing it with others. Detectives are in the process of returning phones that have been cleared of wrongdoing.

“It’s really very important for parents to know and to be very nosy about what’s on their kids phones,” Detective Chapman.

Avon Community School Corporation officials issued a statement about the incident. The statement is below.

“We want to provide you with an update on the distribution of inappropriate images found recently on some Avon Community Schools students’ cell phones.

“We are working closely with Avon Police Department to identify which students are involved and the extent of the distribution.  In conjunction with Avon Police, prosecutors and our legal counsel, we are cooperating and taking this issue extremely seriously. We are continuing to determine appropriate disciplinary action.

“At this point, our most important message to parents, families and students at Avon Community Schools is this—inappropriate behavior at any level will not be tolerated by the District. Schools will be reminding students about the appropriate use of technology and the ethical and legal consequences and ramifications of inappropriate use.

“The message to our student body is unequivocal: if we find out you have participated in inappropriate and illegal behavior at any level, it will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately. We will, as always, engage and cooperate with our local law enforcement authorities, including the prosecutor.

“At the end of the day, this is not an issue limited to our responsibility. It is the responsibility of parents and students to know what is right and what is wrong in the use of technology. We encourage parents to talk to their children about the appropriate and inappropriate use of technology.

“This is a potentially criminal matter, and inquiries about specifics regarding the number of students involved and the degree of involvement should be directed to Avon law enforcement authorities, with whom we are working closely.

“Further inquiries should be directed to the Avon Police Department.”