Friday, February 13, 2004

2 students accused of selling video porn



By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SPRINGFIELD TWP. - Two students at St. Xavier High School face disciplinary action and possibly criminal charges for allegedly selling pornographic DVDs for $10 each to students on school grounds.

Thirteen other students who allegedly purchased the DVDs could be disciplined for having them at the all-boys school.

The matter surfaced Wednesday as pure happenstance.

The school's assistant principal for discipline was walking through the cafeteria when he asked a student to tuck in his shirt. As the student complied with the request, he dropped a concealed DVD.

"He must have had it in his belt or under his shirt," school spokesman Paul Zook said. "He grabbed the DVD and asked, 'Am I in trouble?' From there, the whole thing just unraveled.''

School officials declined to release any information about the students. They said the two students selling the DVDs will face the prestigious Catholic school's disciplinary board today. Springfield Township Police are also investigating.

Springfield Township Police Chief Dave Heimpold said his investigators met with school officials on Thursday.

"We're just getting into this. We haven't even reviewed the videos at this point," Heimpold said. "But it could be a serious situation."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said Thursday that it is illegal to sell obscene materials to juveniles. Likewise, it is illegal for juveniles to possess such materials.

"That's an interesting situation," Allen said. "It might be a first in Hamilton County. It's certainly not something we see a lot. But it sounds like the school did the right thing."

Zook said the assistant principal who confiscated the dozen or so DVDs felt certain they were pornographic after seeing the covers.

"He felt they were really gross and graphic, what he would have considered porn," Zook said. "There is no indication that the videos contained kiddie porn or violence. But at that point, we've not looked at all the videos.

"This was just a couple of kids that were going to make some bucks selling porn. We caught it before it got beyond the initial sales."

The sellers will face the disciplinary board; the buyers might not have to face the board, but they are in trouble, Zook said.

"The (buyers) will come to the attention of the board, but whether they'll be called before the board, I do not know," Zook said. "But all these kids will be disciplined."

St. Xavier is one of the best schools in the region. Last year, the school produced 28 National Merit semifinalists, by far the most in the Tristate. The school is also widely respected for its athletic programs.

Freshman Dave Hood said he heard the incident being discussed in the cafeteria at school Thursday.

"It's sad to hear about, but with 1,450 guys in the school there is going to be some of that," Hood, 15, said. "It's sad because it hurts everyone's reputation."

Zook said he's not too worried about the school's reputation.

"We've been here 170 years," he said. "We'll survive this."

E-mail dklepal@enquirer.com




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