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Charges possible for alleged sex crime depicted in Big Bear yearbook

Bigbearhighschool Authorities investigating an alleged sex crime captured in the 2011 Big Bear High School yearbook said Tuesday their work is ongoing, but that charges eventually could be filed.

The high school made headlines last week when a photograph depicting a 17-year-old male student with his hands inside the clothing of a 15-year-old female student at a school dance was published in the yearbook.

Sgt. Jeremiah MacKay of the Big Bear sheriff’s station said Tuesday that although his investigation was not complete, it showed that sexual penetration of a minor had occurred.

It would be up to the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office to file charges, MacKay said. The crime could be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, MacKay said.

The Press-Enterprise reported Monday that the two students appeared in the background of the photograph, which was taken at a winter formal, and the boy had his hand up the knee-length dress of the girl.

MacKay could not confirm these details.

Crimes involving the sexual penetration of a minor fall under child abuse statutes, MacKay said, and school and law enforcement officials are required to report and investigate such incidents.

“As much as we know teenagers are and will be teenagers, by law we cannot ignore it,” MacKay said.

School administrators notified sheriff’s deputies about the photograph, which was discovered after yearbooks were distributed nearly two weeks ago.

The yearbooks were immediately recalled, and students were ordered to bring them back to the school so the page with the photograph could be removed.

Officials warned that those who did not return their yearbooks could face charges of possession of child pornography.

MacKay said that as of Tuesday, all but two of the yearbooks had been returned.

The owners of the unreturned yearbooks had been contacted, he said, and had agreed to hand them in.

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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Big Bear High School. Credit: KTLA-TV.

 
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