More charges could be coming against more people in an e-mail extortion case involving high schoolers from Spring Hill accused of exchanging nude pictures of underage female classmates.
Police charged three Summit High School students last month on 24 felony counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and last week a fourth boy was also charged.
"They're very severe charges," said Spring Hill police Lt. Justin Whitwell.
The investigation began as "sexting" between juveniles, but it later developed into an exploitation investigation as police learned the three Summit High School students allegedly stored the nude photos in email accounts and shared the access passwords with other classmates to view.
"It's just a crazy thing we live in. The technology right now is so far and above what I'm accustomed to growing up," Whitwell said. "We've discovered multiple images of juvenile females in poses that are very suggestive."
In some cases, threats were allegedly made to the female juveniles that copies of the pictures would be sent to their parents, other students or even displayed at their school.
"To identify the females, we had to show the parents the pictures of their children," Whitwell said."It's horrendous. I mean, we had parents just literally almost get sick to their stomach looking at the images we had of their child."
Police said they could initially identify at least five victims, but the case, and the shock in the community, continues to grow.
"As a parent, you're not going to stop the technology. Like I said, these kids are so computer-savvy that they can wiggle around whenever and however they want to with this technology," Whitwell said. "What our parents are going to have to do is educate on the consequences that may arise with these charges."
As for the school district, Williamson County Schools officials released this statement:
"At this time, this is a police matter. According to law enforcement, none of the alleged incidents took place on school grounds or involved school property."
Spring Hill police are now up to 32 counts on the four suspects, but they expect to have a lot more charges on a lot more people in the near future.
Investigators are asking any more possible victims to come forward.
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