SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. -- A man is in custody after allegedly texting a naked photo of his girlfriend's daughter to nearly 40 contacts in the girl's cellphone.
Eugene Foster, 31, was arrested for sexual exploitation of a minor, said Elias Johnson of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
According to what 3TV's Mike Watkiss learned, Foster found a photo the girl, who is a student at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley, had taken of herself, and decided to teach her a lesson by sending the photo to contacts in her phone. Investigators do not believe Foster was intentionally trying to exploit the child.
When the officials at Florence Unified School District learned about the incident, they contacted parents, asking them to immediately delete the text if they or their children received it. They also advised parents to have a conversation with their kids to explain that sharing nude photos of minors, whether by text message, e-mail or via the Internet, is illegal under state and federal child pornography laws and that the penalties and consequences of such action can be severe.
"To spread this photo further would not only add to the devastating embarrassment of one of our students, making a bad situation worse, it would make the sender subject to severe legal consequences," Dawn Hawman, the district's director of public relations, told parents. "The welfare of our students is always our top priority, and we appreciate your assistance in minimizing the damage done by one adult’s poor choices."
Parents Watkiss talked to were stunned by Foster's alleged actions.
"That's something that you deal with at home," said Doug Peterson, a Poston Butte father. "You don't get other people involved. That's just horrible."
Even if Foster's intentions were well-meant, what he allegedly did is against the law.
"The bottom line is sexting pictures of juveniles is wrong," Johnson said, explaining that this is a learning experience for parents and teens.
Foster remains in custody. PCSO is working with the Pinal County Attorney's Office to determine how to proceed.