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Batavia on alert: Police continue to investigate sexting case involving Rotolo students

BATAVIA – Batavia police continue to investigate a case of inappropriate nude images that were taken by Rotolo Middle School students of themselves and shared with other students.

"They are graphic enough to get your attention," Batavia Police Detective Kevin Bretz said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "I have seen a lot worse, but either way, they are inappropriate."

Six or seven students sent photos of themselves through cellphone text messages, Bretz said. About 12 students have received the photos.

"Most of them are selfies that were taken in a mirror," Bretz said. The photos were taken in the last four to six weeks, he said, but there was no indication that they were taken on school grounds.

Police have not found any evidence the photos have made their way onto different Internet sites, Bretz said. He didn't know whether the students were sexting as part of a game.

"This is a curious thing," he said. "It is a junior high thing."

The school district was made aware of the images on Tuesday after a Rotolo Middle School student let a staff member know that some inappropriate images of classmates may have been distributed through social media, Batavia School Superintendent Lisa Hichens said.

Police continue to investigate the matter, she said.

"We won't do anything as a district until the conclusion of the investigation," Hichens said.

Hichens said the district plans to take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation. However, the punishment against the students will not be made public, she said.

"The consequences will only be shared with those families involved in this incident, but the district will continue to educate all students about the Internet and social media," Hichens said.

According to Rotolo's handbook, students are prohibited from "creating, sending, sharing, viewing, receiving or possessing an indecent visual depiction of oneself or another person through the use of a computer, electronic communication device or cellular phone."

Under state law, it is illegal for those under the age of 18 to distribute lewd photos using their cellphones or computers. Those found guilty of sexting could face supervision as well as community service and counseling.

Hichens said parents and students directly involved in the investigation have been cooperative. She urged all parents to use the situation as a chance to talk to their children about the dangers of social media.

"We hope that all parents take the time today to talk with their children about social media and the permanent nature of posting anything online," she said.

Those with specific information related to the investigation to contact the Batavia Police Department at 630-454-2500, Hichens said.

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