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Boys, 14, recorded, texted sex video

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POSTED November 10, 2015 6:49 p.m.

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Two 14-year-old boys were charged after one of them allegedly shot video of the other having sex with a girl, and as many as 20 students at a neighboring Long Island school have been suspended for either viewing the video encounter on their smartphones or sending copies to friends.

The incident has at least one parent decrying his son’s suspension, and civil libertarians have questioned whether school administrators followed due process in doling out discipline.

The boys, students at Smithtown High School, on eastern Long Island, have not been identified, nor has the girl depicted in the video. Police say the two boys face felony charges of disseminating indecent material to minors and promoting a sexual performance by a child, as well as misdemeanor sexual abuse.

Police provided no information on whether they have attorneys who could comment. The case is being prosecuted in Family Court. A police spokeswoman said Tuesday that further arrests were not expected.

Meanwhile, as many as 20 students at neighboring Kings Park High School were suspended for either viewing the encounter on their phones or sending copies to friends. Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen told Newsday that about 20 students had been suspended for between one and five days. He said school officials got an anonymous tip last week about the images, and students were seen “huddled” around cellphones during lunch.

Eagen said students who possessed or saw the images got lighter punishments; those who possessed and distributed them got up to five days’ suspension. He did not immediately return a call for comment, but issued a statement on the school district website citing confidentiality issues in not providing additional information.

Andrew Fenton, the father of sophomore AJ Fenton, said his son should not have been suspended for merely receiving an unsolicited video. AJ Fenton was escorted by police from the school on Tuesday morning after attempting to defy the suspension.

“He was unjustifiably, supposedly suspended, although we still have not been officially notified,” the elder Fenton told reporters outside the school.

His son said he is being unfairly disciplined. “I can’t stop somebody from sending a text to me. I just looked at the video; I didn’t send it to anyone.” He added he has since deleted the video.

Laura Ahearn, executive director of the Long Island-based “Parents for Megan’s Law,” which advocates on behalf of sexual abuse victims, said it was unlikely the two boys will be prosecuted as adults. She expected they would be placed in an educational diversion program. She said sanctions, such as having to be listed as a sex offender, are only for those convicted on adult charges of abusing minors.

The case appears similar to a sexting investigation currently underway at a southern Colorado high school. At Canon City High School, an undisclosed number of students have been suspended after a cell phone was confiscated with several hundred sexually explicit images. The district has said that both girls and boys are involved in the sexting.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the Long Island case raises “concerns too long to begin to enumerate.” She questioned whether due process was followed by administrators investigating the allegations. “I have concerns about whether the kids were subjected to illegal cell phone searches. Were students intimidated by school officials into signing incriminating statements?”

She added: “It’s hard to ignore the absurdity and hypocrisy of arresting children for violating a statute that was designed to protect children from abuse from adults.”


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