Teens allegedly posted photo of special-needs student using bathroom
One South Aiken High School student and one former student were detained after allegedly taking a picture of a special needs student while he used the bathroom, then sharing the photo on social media, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Austin Dean Thames, 17, of Cheltenham Drive, was charged with “obscenities as in writing, pictures, verbal.” Jeffrey Alec Forrester, 19, also of Cheltenham Drive, was charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenities.
Thames and Forrester were arrested on Tuesday and placed in the Aiken County detention center, where they remained on Tuesday afternoon.
The alleged incident happened in December, according to an incident report. An assistant principal alerted the school resource officer about photos online of the 16-year-old victim with his pants down while using the bathroom.
The report indicated the student is special needs.
The school official told police she got the photo from Forrester's online account, and that the photo already had 28 “likes.” Forrester has 655 followers who could see the photo.
Investigators found that Thames took the picture in the bathroom with Snapchat and sent it to Forrester, the report stated. With Snapchat, the recipient of a picture can only view it for a few seconds, but Forrester screen-saved the picture on his phone and put it in his picture file so his online followers could view it, police said.
The victim's guardian was contacted by the assistant principal and told police at the time that she didn't want to press charges against Thames and Forrester, the report stated. Instead, she wanted to talk to the suspects and their families. The guardian told Thames and Forrester the victim's “life story” and said she wanted them to do some type of community service with the handicapped. The officer wrote that everyone was in agreement and the incident appeared to be settled. The victim's guardian then decided to pursue charges against the suspect after the school resource officer later told her he couldn't force the suspects to partake in community service or counseling.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard.