Police: Inappropriate pictures of Greece, Gates Chili students surface on social media

    Police say they are investigating if the photos are legitimate, and who is responsible for sharing them. (WHAM photo)

    GREECE, N.Y. (WHAM) - A cautionary message is coming from the Greece Police Department as they investigate inappropriate photographs of students circulating at one of the high schools.

    Police say the images show students in various forms of undress.

    "It's all together bad for the youngsters and for these people who are taking these images and sharing them out," said Greece Police Sgt. Jared Rene.

    The Gates Chili School District released a statement Thursday regarding what it called a "concerning account."

    "A concerned parent reported a social media account to Gates Chili Central School District on Monday," the school district said in a statement released Thursday. "The district reported the account to local authorities and encouraged the parent to do the same. At this time, the district does not believe the photographs were taken during the school day and is investigating the matter. Gates Chili CSD encourages its students to be responsible digital citizens."

    One Greece mother decided to share her story with 13WHAM in hopes that it will help stop what's going on. We are respecting her privacy and that of her daughter's by not sharing their names, or where the student attends school.

    Police say they are investigating if the photos are legitimate, and who is responsible for sharing them.

    When asked how it feels to know this is happening to her daughter, the woman said she feels sick to her stomach, and frustrated.

    She says a picture of her daughter is now circulating on social media. She claims it shows her daughter's face superimposed on an image of a naked upper body.

    "These kids need to be held accountable for uploading it without permission and just exposing these children," the mother said.

    She says the image of her daughter surfaced a few months back and recently again among students in school. The image was then allegedly uploaded to a Snapchat account.

    The mother says her daughter sent a picture to a person who was a friend at the time.

    "She had been friends with this young woman in the summer months, and so they were sharing pictures back and forth, not photos that were indecent, not photos of that nature," she explained.

    She claims a picture was then altered.

    "I was mad, I was infuriated, that's when I called 911. There is definitely something that can be done," she said.

    Greece Police say they launched an investigation into the matter after discovering more than 10 images similar in nature.

    "Young teenagers in various forms of undress, usually female, there are a couple of photos of males as well," Rene said.

    He says some of the teens admitted to taking the pictures themselves.

    "We want to interview people. We want to make sure the photos are legit and not photo shopped or made up," Rene explained.

    Rene says the consequences for anyone involved could be serious.

    "If you're in possession of indecent materials or pornographic images of a minor, then that's a felony charge. And if you share them, it's another felony charge," Rene explained.

    After the Greece Central School District discovered the images, they turned the investigation over to police. Police say the images were not taken on school grounds.

    On Wednesday, parents received a robocall from the district.

    "We wanted to make you aware that explicit photos of students have been shared on social media," the call said.

    The mother we spoke to says she wishes the call would have come sooner, especially after what happened to her daughter months ago.

    "She's supposed to go there and go to school and they are supposed to provide us with any information necessary to make sure they are safe," she said.

    School leaders say they discuss the dangers of the Internet with students.

    "I would say don't ever send a picture of yourself to someone in a state of undress," said Steve Chatterton, Director of School Safety and Security for the Greece Central School District. "I'm hoping this bring awareness and parents see this as sit their kids down."

    Chatterton says he speaks to students at assemblies and athletic meetings about what it means to be responsible on social media.

    "Most of it was done outside of school, I would say 99 percent if not 100 percent was outside of school," Chatterton said.

    Greece police say they have not made any arrests or filed any charges yet.

    As for the students taking photos of themselves, police want them to know they too could get into trouble.

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