Dozens of Waukesha students busted for trading nude photos, videos “like baseball cards”

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WAUKESHA -- The Waukesha Police Department is looking into reports that dozens of teenagers were using personal cell phones and computing devices to share nude photographs and explicit videos of themselves.Sexting ring

Police say children as young as ten may be sending naked pictures to others, and a group of boys were not only looking at them -- they were doing much more.

Waukesha North High School is one of the schools, but this alleged sexting ring apparently hit two middles schools as well, Horning and Butler.

They are the apps kids don't want you to know about, but experts say, for safety, you have to.

"You can't just leet it go and say it's never going to happen,. Teenagers think it's fun, it's innocent, but that's a crime and in some cases a felony," said Brian Dorow, Dean of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security WCTC.

Officials say these images were shared using the following apps:

  • Keepsafe
  • Photo vault
  • Ky-calc
  • Secret calculator
  • Photo locker
  • I-message
  • Facebook messenger
  • Kik
  • Snapchat
  • Secret Vault

Thursday, March 3rd Waukesha police say a mother with a child at West High School, found something she needed to report to police on her child's phone: a naked picture of a girl.

"We looked into and discovered that there were four or five male students who created a repository of photographs categorized photos using 'Kik' social media," said Sergeant Jerry Habanek, Waukesha Police Department.

Sergeant Jerry Habanek

Sergeant Jerry Habanek

Police say the boys were able to get girls to send dozens of nude photos of them through phone apps. One phone app even looked like an innocent calculator but when opened, it hit nude photos.

"Kids can  buy it, install it and basically it's a secret compartment for them to hide things, pornographic pictures -- things they don't want you to see," said Dorow.

"They began trading them for other photos of girls," said Sergeant Habanek.

The app 'Snapchat' was also used to keep photos.

"What these students were doing or other students were doing, is screenshot the photos or they'd use a third party app to save the Snapchat photo. They'd save it and contact one of these five boys who had the repository and, say I have a photo of 'Suzy,' I'd like to trade it for a photo of 'Nancy.' Just like trading baseball cards, these guys would trade photos," said Habanek.

Police say it appears 25-30 kids in Waukesha schools were in on the game, but police don't call it a game at all. They call it child pornography and will refer several students to the District Attorney's Office for charges.

"The other thing they were trading was not only photos but short videos of sex acts with themselves. Those types of things were being sent, shared and now traded," said Habanek.

The apps are changing technology experts say parents can keep up with.

"You can buy an application to restrict those, or you can buy an application for those types of applications,. It's always changing, you need to be one step ahead or you are way behind," Dorow said.
Photo apps

In the meantime, the investigation continues and a letter to all parents is going home from the school district.

Waukesha police say this large investigation is still very new. If parents find anything odd in their child's cell phone, they are asked to call police -- and police want kids to know, everything that's digital can be saved.

If you have any questions, have any information regarding this incident or discover any of the images, you're urged to contact Detective Mike Carpenter 262-524-3923.

The Waukesha Police Department included the following two public service announcement videos for parents to review as a mode for discussion on sharing inappropriate videos and images.

13 comments

  • CJ

    The School District of Waukesha is big on the use of technology in the classroom. The district even provides iPads and Chromebooks – I wonder if any of these photos were viewed on these devises.

  • megan

    This is why it is absolutely ridiculous to allow kids of any age to have their cells phones during school hours. Yes they could have done it from home but kids these days sit on their phones all day in school instead of doing what they are there to do…LEARN!!

  • Sheila Moyet

    There is an easy solution to this problem. Don’t give your children cell phones that connect to the internet. If your children must have a cell phone. just give them one on that only does calls and that’s all. There is no reason why kids have to have internet connection on their phones.

  • Dave

    This is a huge huge deal of incomprehensible proportions and a massive injustice. If these children are charged with a sex crime it will force their registration for a decade on the sex offender registry. They might never recover. A ten year old thrown on the registry for a picture. My god.

    Juveniles cannot commit the crime of child pornography. That is UTTERLY absurd. Any charge of child pornography is inappropriate and evil beyond comprehension.

    The police are threatening to register DOZENS of children as SEX OFFENDERS for VICTIMIZING THEMSELVES. This is SICKENING. Any conviction would require registration. The judge has no discretion. The felony itself would also create a record that would almost certainly prevent them from receiving a higher education. For PICTURES.

    These children have never been in more danger, because the police decided to take what was a serious of juveniles mistake and minor crimes and turn it into a life altering felony. Their lives may never be the same again. This is sick. This is so insanely sick I can’t function. I can’t think. This is among the most horrifying things that can happen to a child.

    If you think this isn’t a serious injustice, kids have killed themselves over being forced to register for similar acts before. It’s happened. It happened in nearby Michigan. It’s happened even when the code does not force registration, but the juvenile thought they might be forced to register due to rumors. It’s only a matter of time before it happens in one of these cases.

    The police can’t throw around felony charges like this. It’s simply not right. And we can’t do anything. This is sick.

    • David

      Don’t be so ignorant. Child pornography laws are intended to protect minors from adults, not minors from minors. A punishment is fine but charging them a felony aimed at adults that absolutely ruins lives is absolutely moronic.

    • Mike

      Kids have also killed themselves after having their photos traded, sold and shared without their knowledge. This isn’t a victimless crime. It may be a stupid decision to take a naked photo of oneself and send it to another person, but that doesn’t justify the victimization. Frankly, this little sexting ring operated EXACTLY like an adult pedophilia ring. You are only excusing their behavior because of age. If this had gone unchecked, they would never have stopped.

    • Mike

      And I think you need to reread the story. High schoolers were trading nude photos of victims as young as ten. You don’t think 15 to 18 year olds with nude pics of a 10 year old is a problem?

  • libertarian

    Yet the conservatives are handing out gun permits by the hundreds of thousands and gun crimes have exploded across America. Where are those arrests?

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