Associated Press, Published June 12 2012
For $10 and a soda, two Lakeville juvenile boys pay girl to take locker room photosMINNEAPOLIS — Four Minnesota middle school students accused of taking and distributing inappropriate pictures of two girls changing in a locker room were charged Tuesday in juvenile court.
According to prosecutors, two boys at Century Middle School in Lakeville started a game in which they took photos of girls’ buttocks in the hallway and forwarded the pictures to others.
As the game evolved, the boys recruited one girl to take inappropriate pictures in the school locker room — paying her $10 and a can of soda to do so. She did, and urged another girl to do the same.
The two girls took a total of five photos and one video of two other girls who were undressing in the locker room in May, prosecutors said. The images showed the backs of the victims partially undressed from the waist down. None of the images showed the victims naked.
Prosecutors said the images were then forwarded to the boys and eventually to others.
The two boys, ages 13 and 14, and the girls, both 14, face gross misdemeanor charges related to the interference of privacy. Three also face criminal defamation charges, which are also gross misdemeanors.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said investigators believe up to 40 students saw the images, but there will be no additional charges. He said authorities believe the four students who were charged were directly involved in either taking the images or getting others to take them.
He said he doesn't expect the four to spend time in juvenile detention or end up with permanent criminal records.
“What's important here is to make sure that they understand what they did was wrong, it was harmful to others, and it was against the law,” Backstrom said. He added that punishment could include community service or writing letters of apology to the victims and their families.
The school issued additional sanctions, and 16 students were suspended, the district said in a statement Tuesday.
The names of the defendants are not public because they are teens. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys to comment on their behalf.
Backstrom said parents and teens need to understand that today's technology creates a great temptation, but sharing certain things can be illegal. Once an image is sent, he added, it doesn't come back.
“This is very serious,” he said. “It's not a laughing matter.”