Officials investigate child porn case involving Burns Middle students

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CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. - Cleveland County middle school students are at the center of a child porn investigation after nude images were found on cellphones, investigators said.

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the making and dissemination of child pornography and extortion involving students at Burns Middle School.

A teenager notified investigators Tuesday that a student was showing the nude images to other students at the school.
 
Deputies seized cellphones and broadened the scope of the investigation based on what was found on the phones.

Investigators believe that at least one of the images sent voluntarily by a student to one of the suspects threatened to show it to the entire school if he didn’t get more photos from that student.

Investigators are interviewing students from Burns Middle School and other schools, as well.

“Kids need to understand this is a crime, that you can be charged with it; It is a felony crime,” Captain Joel Shores said.

Officials said the people involved are minors, so they will not be identified.

Students told Channel 9's Tina Terry that sexting is nothing new.

"It's something that's happened before. It's gonna happen again," student  Landon Hoyle said.

When the investigation concludes, detectives will turn over the information to the District Attorney’s Office to determine the appropriate charges.

A spokesman for Burns Middle shared the following statement with Channel 9:

“School officials found out about the matter earlier this week and immediately handed the information over to the local authorities.  As always, the school system works closely with authorities to provide all necessary information. I cannot provide disciplinary information about any students pertaining to matters surrounding our schools. Although we respect the transparent nature of the situation, we ask that everyone consider the long-term impact such matters can have on those involved, especially minors.”

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