Student sex act in class recorded at CAHS
By LYNN FREEHILL, The Virgin Islands Daily News
ST. THOMAS – A digital video recording of two Charlotte Amalie High School students performing a sex act in a classroom, with classmates present, is circulating among students and others using cell phones to transmit and receive the video.
The father of a CAHS student contacted The Daily News after his daughter received the 36-second video on her cell phone and told him about it. The father told The Daily News that another student used a cell phone to record the sophomore boy and junior girl openly engaged in sexual activity last week.
The video, which is called "cahs porn" and was shot from several angles, shows the girl straddling the boy and holding her spread legs up in the air. The boy is seated at a desk with his back to the front of the classroom. The video shows the actions of the two students and picks up background sounds – including what sounds like an adult’s voice. According to reports to The Daily News, that voice belongs to the teacher of the class.
On Wednesday, CAHS administrators and the V.I. Board of Education sought to suppress information about the tape and about how district officials are handling the matter. CAHS principal Jeanette Smith-Barry refused to say Wednesday whether disciplinary action had been taken against any teacher, against the students who were on the video or against the student who recorded the video and distributed it.
Because the students on the video are minors engaged in a sex act, the video is child pornography. Federal statutes outlawing such material define child pornography as any material that visually depicts sexual conduct by children.
Deputy Chief Elvin Fahie Sr. said the V.I. Police Department is prepared to investigate any such activity on a school campus.
"It may not be deemed to some people as a violation of the law, but little things grow into big things, so we need to be ahead of it from law enforcement standpoint," he said.
Fahie said that he did not know whether school officials had reported the matter as of Wednesday.
On Tuesday, administrators told students that if they possessed the video on their cell phones, they should erase it.
V.I. Education Commissioner Noreen Michael and St. Thomas-St. John Insular Superintendent Emily Carter did not return Daily News calls Tuesday and Wednesday seeking information about the district’s handling of the pornography situation and about the district’s policy on students’ use of cell phones on campus.
V.I. Board of Education Acting Executive Director Laurie Isaac said that as of Wednesday afternoon, the board had not been briefed by CAHS administrators or Education Department officials. The board has no policy on student cell phones, she said.
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, chairman of the V.I. Senate Committee on Education, Culture and Youth, said that students had told him about the video but that CAHS administrators had not responded to his request for information about the situation.
Anthony Francis, president of the CAHS Parent Teacher Student Association, also said Wednesday that he was awaiting an explanation from officials about what happened.
He said he planned to visit the school today to meet with an assistant principal so he could learn the details and decide whether to call a special meeting of the PTSA. The group has concluded its regular meetings for the year.
Francis expressed dismay about the situation.
"The thing is, how is the school going to handle it?" he said. "These are things that could be easily posted on the Internet and remain in circulation indefinitely."
V.I. Police Department officials said child pornography filmed on a school campus is a grave issue that requires the involvement of law enforcement, not just the disciplinary discretion of administrators.
"Any video or film depicting any child involved in a sexual act is illegal in the United States of America," police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah said. "For each film that is distributed, that person could be charged accordingly" with territorial and federal crimes.
"It’s taken very seriously because it’s involving child abuse, whether it’s done by a child or not," he said.