Ten Laval teens face child pornography charges
Published Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:00AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 15, 2013 7:33PM EST
Ten teenage boys from Laval have pleaded not guilty to a series of child pornography-related charges stemming from the sharing of indecent photos of teenage girls on a popular app known as SnapChat.
Laval police, who rounded up the boys Thursday morning, said that the youths, all aged 13 to 15 years old, used persuasion or intimidation to get the girls to send nude photos of themselves.
Eight of the 10 boys face two charges related to the possession and distribution of child pornography. The other two face the same charges plus a third charge relating to the production of child pornography.
The boys, who attend a variety of high schools in the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, have been released and will return to youth court January 20.
Click here for an RCMP guide to cyberbullying and sexting
They will not be permitted to communicate with the alleged victims or access the internet without the supervision of their parents or school authorities.
Officers have identified seven girls who were either coerced into having their picture taken, or who were tricked into thinking the picture would be deleted immediately.
"Some of the girls thought that they were okay by sending these pictures by using an app called SnapChat because the picture will appear for only a few seconds... and then it disappears," said Nathalie Laurin of Laval police.
"There is the possibility of taking a screencap and then distributing the picture. We saw that it was shared outside also so we don't know to what extent those pictures are going around cyber space."
Dozens of officers, including a specialized unit involving 20 investigators, have been on the case since learning about the photos being viewed at an anglophone high school in Laval about one month ago.
Laurin said a staff member noticed a boy looking at explicit pictures of a girl on his phone. That boy was sent to the principal's office and his parents were notified, at which point authorities learned that multiple boys had access to the same or similar photographs, and that they had been shared with fellow students at two other schools.
Parents were warned of the impending arrests but one parent interviewed by CTV Montreal Thursday expressed surprise that the issue has led to charges.
SnapChat has become a wildly-popular photo sharing app since being launched in September 2011, as about 20 million pictures are said to be shared through the app daily. The owners of SnapChat reportedly turned down a $3 billion purchase offer from Facebook this week.
Police headquarters in Laval, where 10 teenagers were taken on Thursday Nov. 14, 2013 under suspicion of producing and distributing child pornography (CTV Montreal/Tania Krywiak)