Authorities in Kansas are looking into accusations that a male high school student obtained nude photos of his female peers and used those photos to harass and intimidate those students online.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported this week that the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the allegations against the male student, who is said to be a senior at Seaman High School in Topeka.
Steve Noble, superintendent of Seaman Unified School District 345, confirmed to The Star on Wednesday that an investigation by the Sheriff’s Office is ongoing. He described the allegations as “severe” and “significant.”
“We are involved in an ongoing investigation,” Noble told the Capital-Journal. “When allegations are brought forth that are severe and represent negative behavior, we take all of those allegations seriously. This particular instance is no different.”
The newspaper said it talked to several unnamed students of Seaman High School. Those students said the male student in question had in his possession nude photos, or tried to obtain photos, of between 50 to 100 female students at the high school as well as at the middle school.
The student is also accused of making fake social media accounts to harass other students.
In reference to the allegations of student misconduct, the district’s director of security filed a report with the Sheriff’s Office last September. A report was also filed with the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement to The Star that attempts were made to validate the information last September, but the allegations “were unable to be substantiated.”
This month, the Sheriff’s Office said it received new information of “inappropriate photo-sharing,” and the investigation was re-opened.
The allegations cover a time span of 2015 to 2017, the Sheriff’s Office said.
There are about 4,000 students within Seaman Unified School District 345, including 1,200 enrolled at the high school
No arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed in the investigation.
Noble told The Star he believes nude-photo sharing among teens is a significant issue “beyond our school walls.” The school district, he said, is encouraging students to tell an adult if they experience bullying or harassment online. The superintendent said it’s important for the district and community to better understand “this global teen culture problem.”
“We need to learn more in the Seaman district. We need our adults to be more aware. ...We need to be more informed about this culture of online sexual harassment, online bullying, threats and intimidation,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office also released the following statement in regard to the allegations:
“We would like to encourage parents to educate their children on the consequences of sharing inappropriate photos. The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office assigns a School Resource Officer to the county high schools. We value our partnerships with the schools and we are dedicated to assisting them in providing a safe learning environment. We encourage the students to utilize the SROs as a resource for answering questions as well as reporting inappropriate activity, either on or off campus.”