Students in Bernards Township are being warned to clean up their cell phones to get rid of sexually explicit photos or they will face the possibility of criminal charges. Bernards Township Police Department Operations and OEM Coordinator Captain Michael Shimsky told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the police department is working to identify who is sending the explicit photos.
Shimsky said that this type of situation is common, just not usually as publicized as it has been for the Bernards Township school.
“We received word late last week from a concerned parent who had viewed photographs on their child’s cell phone and we began investigating at that time. We proactively looked for students who may have had some of these pictures on their phones as well. The Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools have been very proactive in investigating the source and the recipients as well,” said Shimsky. “There was an amnesty period that the school administration had issued until yesterday for anyone to come forward. Today, our school resource office has been reviewing at least eight to 12 phones of students and parents who have come forward with these explicit photographs.”
Shimsky said the police department is working very closely with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the school administration and the superintendent. He said that what they are looking for right now is to identify all of the phones that have the images on them and to have them deleted immediately. He said that there is a social and emotional stigma attached to the victims in cases like this and the police want to try to mitigate that as much as they can. Right now the police are trying to get all of the pictures off the phones, said Shimsky.
Shimsky said that the police would still like to talk to the people who deleted the images off their phones because it is an ongoing investigation, so the police want to learn as much as they can. He said that if people have pictures on their phones and they continue to use them or retransmit them, that is aggravating circumstances down the road for a potential criminal prosecution.