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Arrest made in Burrillville Dropbox case

A teenage boy in Burrillville was arrested, accused of sharing dozens of sexually-explicit images of teenage girls. Some of the teens are students are Burrillville High School. (WJAR)

A teenage boy in Burrillville was arrested, accused of sharing dozens of sexually-explicit images of teenage girls. Some of the teens are students are Burrillville High School.

Col. Stephen Lynch said some of the images have surfaced on Russian pornography websites.

“Some of the photos ended up in this Dropbox setting and some of those photos traveled beyond that into a domain where we have no jurisdiction. We have no recourse and nor do the girls involved,” Lynch said.

A 16-year-old boy, whom police aren't identifying since he's a minor, was arraigned Thursday in Rhode Island Family Court on felony charges of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. It will be up to a judge to decide if the teenage boy will have to register as a sex offender.

“He was the one who admittedly had the only access to it as far as what photos went into it,” Lynch said.

Lynch said the teenage boy shared the images with some of his friends in Burrillville through a website called Dropbox, which allows users to share files. Investigators found more than 100 photos and videos on the site. At least half, according to police, fit the description of child pornography.

“Some of the pictures involved females in this community under the age of 18 that are naked. Some were partially clothed,” Lynch said.

During the investigation, police interviewed 43 girls, some of whom are students at Burrillville High School. Police began their investigation in May when the department’s school resource officer brought it to the attention of detectives.

“They sent the pictures to someone they felt they could trust,” Lynch said. “Those relationships changed and once that change took place, I think some photos traveled after the change in the relationship.”

According to police, the suspect recreated a Dropbox site that police began investigating two years ago.

“We do know that in 2015 a similar matter was brought to our attention through the high school so a high school vice principal and our school resource officer started to pursue it in 2015 and as soon as they did that particular Dropbox disappeared,” Lynch said.

Lynch hopes parents take the time to talk with their children about the lifelong consequences of sharing sexual images.

“This is not something that you keep your fingers crossed and you hope your child does not engage in,” Lynch said. “I think these are good kids who made bad decisions.”

Lynch said no photos or videos were taken at Burrillville High School.

The Burrillville Police Department and the Burrillville School Department plan to hold forums at Burrillville High School when school starts to address the long-term consequences of sharing sexually-explicit images.

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