PATERSON, NJ - Six Passaic County teenagers arrested for allegedly distributing child pornography on social media sites.
Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes announced on Thursday morning the arrests of four boys and two girls for allegedly distributing hundreds of images of child pornography.
The four boys and two girls ages 13 to 15 are all Passaic County residents, said Valdes. She said three of them ran two social media sites called “P-Paterson Purge” and “P-Passaic Purge” which were used to circulate explicit images of other teenagers.
The juveniles are hosts of internet sites depicting child pornography or providers of nudes photos of other juveniles. Depending on whether they were a host or a provider, they were charged with distribution of child pornography, maintaining child pornography/file sharing, possession of child pornography, invasion of privacy and cyber harassment, said the prosecutor.
Authorities said all six juveniles were arrested in the past few weeks, processed, and released to their parents.
The three of the juveniles were hosts creating social media accounts. They would ask their followers to send in nude pictures or semi nude pictures, where they would then post to these sites.
Valdes said the Paterson site had 1,300 followers while the Passaic site had 3,000. She said the hosts would send messages that read: “DM us nudes,” and “Community full of hots. Will start exposing at 7:30.”
The three hosts were a 14-year-old male and two 151-year-old females. The three providers were males ages 14 and 15 who provided nude photos of other juveniles to the hosts's sites.
Three victims who discovered their own explicit images on the sites created – two from Paterson (13 and 15) and one from North Haldedon (15). The victims voluntarily shared the photos of themselves with their boyfriends or others they were interested in, then distributed the photos to the three individuals running “P-Paterson Purge” and “P-Passaic Purge.”
“The victims did not consent to their pictures to go public,” said Valdes.
After a year long investigation that started on December 2015, members of Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and Paterson police departments received tips about nude photos of juveniles appearing on social media sites.
The three victims reported they had seen nude photos of themselves on social media. The victims admitted to sharing their photos voluntarily to only individuals known to them, but not consenting to having their photos shared on social media.
“The two sites were taken down almost as soon as law enforcement learned of their existence. Regretfully, there are similar sites popping up especially with the word ‘purge’ in them,” said the prosecutor. Valdes said these sites are being used by elementary, middle, and high school students.
“Juveniles and the public should know when they are active on social media they leave behind a digital footprint that can lead law enforcement right to them,” said the prosecutor.
Three hosts face 11 years and the three providers face 8 years of custodial sentences, authorities said.