BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies put the cuffs on two boys and two girls on Friday. All four are facing various child pornography charges.
Corporal Larry McKinnon explains a 12-year-old boy took video of a juvenile victim performing a sex act on him. That defendant then shared the video with a 14-year-old boy who posted it on Instagram. Two other 12-year-old girls also received the video and are also now facing charges.
The four suspects and the victim are students at Burns Middle School in Brandon.
McKinnon said this crime is far more serious than sexting, which authorities are seeing in middle and high schools quite often.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a juvenile or an adult, and in this case, this is child pornography,” said McKinnon. “It’s significantly different from the sexting, because it’s actually sexual activity.”
Investigators believe the video was being used as a tool to bully the victim, which makes the crime even more serious.
“It wasn’t just that they were just passing this video around; they were now getting involved in bullying and trying to intimidate the victim and the victim’s friends,” said McKinnon.
All four face various charges including possession of child pornography and transmission of child pornography. The 12-year-old who produced the video also faces a charge of production of child pornography with a child less than 18 years old. The third-degree felony charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in Florida state prison.
McKinnon believes this should be a wake-up call for all parents who have children with smart phones.
“It really goes to remind us all that we need to watch what are kids are doing … Watch our kids’ phones,” he said.