CHICAGO (CBS) — Police in northwest Indiana were investigating what they believe might be one of “the worst cases of ‘sex-tortion’” they’ve ever seen, after a video of the sexual abuse of a high school student was posted on social media.
The LaPorte County Sheriff’s office said a school resource officer at LaPorte High School was informed about the video, which showed the sexual abuse of a student, and had been shared on several social media accounts, including on Facebook Live, and was viewed by multiple people.
“Investigators believe that this may possibly be one of the worst cases of “sex-extortion” to be investigated in this area,” Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Kellems said in an email.
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Parents said they were horrified after learning of the investigation.
“As a parent, we feel so bad that this has happened,” Julie Pavey said. “It breaks my heart for the girl that was involved in it, and it breaks my heart for all the students.”
“It was on Facebook, Snapchat. I mean, social media is out of control with these kids. It’s insane,” parent Trennis Bradford said.
Authorities were trying to stop the video from spreading any further online. School officials contacted parents using robocalls, and warned them that anyone who possesses or distributes the video might be convicted of possession and/or dissemination of child pornography.
The LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney’s office has mobilized all members of the new Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.
Kellems said Sheriff John Boyd and LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney John Espar were urging the public “to refrain from jumping to conclusions in the matter and avoid the kind of speculation that can only further victimize the family and impede the investigation.”
The sheriff’s office also has contacted the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the FBI to assist in the investigation.
The school and the district both declined to comment.