(photo courtesy RTV6)
A student is facing suspension and possible criminal charges after a mass email sent pornography into the inboxes of the entire student body in the Beech Grove City School district.
Police said the email was an effort to bully or shame a particular student by making it appear that he sent the email due to his sexual orientation.
“We’re not going to tolerate anything like that,” Principal Steve Cox of Beech Grove High School told the Call 6 Investigators.
He said all 825 students on the school’s roster received the email, with a particular pornographic image attached, on a Friday evening.
Many students saw it, but some had not yet opened the email when the district shut down its email servers, he said.
Computer techs with the district were able to scrub the message from the system so that some of the students never actually saw the message, Cox said.
Police launched a criminal investigation since sending sexual material to children is a crime, known as “dissemination of matter harmful to minors.”
Officers raided a student’s home to gather evidence in the case. The search warrant obtained by the Call 6 Investigators spells out that police immediately ruled out the student who was made to appear to be the sender of the email.
Officers wrote in their email that he had a strong alibi and the Internet Protocol address used to send the message did not match up to his family’s computer, “which would have prevented the ability for this person to sent (sic) the image at this particular date and time.”
Officers wrote that their investigation determined, “This subject seems to be targeted in an attempt to bully or embarrass him, by indicating or suggesting that he is involved with homosexual activity.”
The victim then provided police with a name of someone who had been bullying him, and officers wrote in their search warrant that the second student actually admitted to sending out the mass mail.
The search warrant filed in Marion County Circuit Court shows that officers confiscated several electronic devices as part of their investigation, including:
• Lenovo Desktop computer
• Compaq laptop computer
• Kuno 3 tablet
• Net Book tablet
• 2 hard drives
• 3 cell phones
• One damaged thumb drive
• Memory card
No charges were immediately filed, but the police investigation was still in its early stages on Wednesday.
Cox said discipline was being finalized on the student who sent the mass email, but he declined to say what that punishment would be.
“It’s in the process,” he said.
The day after the email popped into students’ inboxes, Cox sent a note home to parents:
“While updating our Google Gmail software to allow better collaboration between students and staff with the creation of student group email lists, students were able to send emails to all students within these groups. Friday evening at 9:18 a high school student sent a pornographic image through our email to other high school students.
The inappropriate behavior was brought to our attention and we immediately shut down the email service to all students to adjust group settings and to address the misuse of the school email system. Access to student emails was shut down within two hours of the inappropriate email being sent. We are working with the BGPD in the investigation and will determine the appropriate disciplinary action for the inappropriate behavior. The student email service will be activated once BGPD has cleared us to allow access and the email in question has been addressed and cleared from the system.”
Cox said that the mass email to the entire student body was only possible because the district was in the process of changing its email server system. He said that ability has now been shut off.
“Students aren’t able to email everybody,” he said, adding that students are now only able to email certain smaller groups, such as specific classmates, so that they can collaborate on assignments.
He said this incident is the only abuse that occurred during the time that emailing the entire student body was possible.
“We’re trying to provide the best educational program with the use of technology,” he said.
When asked about how the district handles bullying, whether electronic and online or inside the physical classroom, Cox said, “We’re not going to allow a student to do anything like that.”
Police wrote in their search warrant that the child who sent the mass email likely used a smartphone, which provides Internet capabilities.
Beech Grove Police are involved, but they turned over much of the investigation to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department since the child who is suspected of sending the email actually lives inside the city limits of Indianapolis.