NC nude student photo investigation expands to Rowan Co.

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - Rowan County is now involved in an investigation into nude photos of North Carolina high school students showing up on social media, and the state's attorney general says the problem could get worse.

Nine other counties across North Carolina are investigating similar accounts and the State Attorney General is getting involved.

Officials are still trying to track down where these images came from and if young people are posting them willingly or by force.

What started as a concern from parents in Wake County has shed light on a bigger issue.

“We got a number of complaints from parents about kids in inappropriate positions being sent out on Instagram photos,” said Roy Cooper, State Attorney General.

A captain with the Landis Police Department confirmed Wednesday night that the first calls came in from the computer staff with the school district about inappropriate photos.

There were about six to eight photographs posted over the weekend showing no faces, just body shots making it impossible to identify the victims unless they come forward.

“The more people read about it and hear about it, the more people are coming forward,” Cooper said.

Landis detectives filed a search warrant for Facebook, which owns Instagram, to provide the company with IP addresses to try to track down the source of the content.

The SBI Computer Crimes Unit is working is working with multiple local law enforcement agencies to investigate inappropriate photos of underage North Carolina students found on Instagram, according to a news release.  

To date, the SBI has identified more than 30 accounts as potential violators, according to a spokeswoman with the North Carolina Department of Justice.

SBI released the following lists of local law enforcement agencies involved with the ongoing investigation: Wake Forest Police, Cary Police, Raleigh Police, Durham Police, Havelock Police, Chatham County Sheriff's Department, Pitt County Sheriff's Department, Surry County Sheriff's Department, Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department and the Randolph County Sheriff's Department.

The spokeswoman said other local law enforcement agencies may have their own investigations going on.

Investigators on the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force are on alert.

They said some teens are posing for the pictures willingly but posting those nude pictures is a crime.
 
“It's the cool trendy thing to do, for whatever reason,” said Matt Suits with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. “So they do it and think it’s just going to be between them and their friend or significant other. It gets posted or shared. Once it's out there you can't retrieve it.”
 
Charges could include sexual exploitation of a minor and distributing child pornography when authorities track down the source.
 
Eyewitness News checked with several of our other counties Wednesday night and haven't found any other cases.

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