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Menasha police refer charges in high school sexting case


MENASHA, WI (WTAQ) - Menasha police have referred charges against ten students after wrapping up its investigation into sexting at Menasha High School.

"Four of them are males that actually created the Instagram account and had solicited and posted the pictures and six females," said Menasha Police Officer Aaron Zemlock. "The referrals for the boys were for possession of child pornography and the referrals for the girls were for disorderly conduct."

Zemlock says adult child pornography laws are more geared toward adults exchanging pictures back and forth of children in a sexually explicit manner. In this particular case, Zemlock says they were "selfie-type pictures". So because it's deemed more consensual, the juvenile system has a lot more options when it comes to what services are available to help prevent this from happening in the future.

"So yes it is a consequence, but it's really looking more for a preventative side," says Zemlock.

The investigation began last month when a Menasha High School liaison officer was notified students were sharing nude and semi-nude pictures of students. Investigators say over 100 photos were recovered from 10 phones.

The superintendent says the school district doesn’t plan any changes to its policy about the use of electronic devices. The district also already teaches students about the dangers of similar activities starting in the sixth grade.

“I hope we continue to emphasize it as we have and continue to work with kids to make good choices that there are consequences that go along with the choices that you make,” Menasha School District Superintendent Chris VanderHeyden said during a press conference Monday.

Authorities say none of the pictures were taken on school grounds, and no adults or school staff was involved.

The Winnebago County District Attorney's Office will now make a decision about charges against the students.

(Additional reporting from FOX 11)