Metro

Some pictures of more than 40 victims in R.I. teen sexting case made their way to porn site

Burrillville High School in Burrillville, R.I.
Stew Milne for The Boston Globe
Burrillville High School in Burrillville, R.I.

A Rhode Island teenage boy is facing criminal charges related to a lurid sexting case involving more than 40 local girls, including some whose photos ended up on a Russian pornography website, according to authorities.

The 16-year-old Burrillville boy appeared before a Family Court judge Thursday on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography and was released to home confinement, according to Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin’s office.

The youth was ordered to have no contact with the victims and refrain from using the Internet except for school purposes, Kilmartin’s office said.

Advertisement

Glenn S. Sparr, a lawyer for the teen, did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment. Authorities did not name the boy, as he’s a juvenile. The Providence Journal first reported his arrest.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The teen was charged after a lengthy investigation in which authorities uncovered an account on Dropbox, an online file-sharing program, that contained more than 100 explicit photos and videos of the girls, many of whom were underage, Burrillville Police Colonel Stephen J. Lynch said in a telephone interview.

The boy allegedly managed the account and shared the images with friends. He gave police a “full confession” and acknowledged having “sole control” of the account, Lynch said.

The precise number of victims was unclear Friday. Lynch put the count at 42, while prosecutors said 43 were affected.

Investigators also learned some of the images have turned up on a Russian porn website.

Advertisement

Police have no evidence, however, that the defendant provided any material to the site, Lynch said.

“How they got their hands on it, honestly, I don’t know,” he said.

Lynch previously told the Journal, “there’s not a damn thing we can do” about the Russian site.

The youth’s arrest comes after Burrillville police investigated a report of a similar Dropbox account being operated in 2015, Lynch said. That account was disabled before police could determine who controlled it.

Lynch described the juvenile in the current case as “very computer-savvy.”

Advertisement

“It took us quite a while to zero in on who was controlling this particular Dropbox,” he said.

The chief said police plan to speak to students at Burrillville High School in the fall to “address this issue” and explain the risks involved with sexting.

Asked about the possibility of any additional arrests, Lynch said, “If there is substantive evidence that comes our way, we would certainly pursue that.”

Attempts to reach school officials for comment were unsuccessful Friday.

The charges the teen faces are “felonies and subject to sex offender registration,” said Kilmartin’s spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, in an e-mail.

The defendant is due back in court for a pretrial conference Oct. 3.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.