Pa. school district settles ‘sexting’ lawsuit

TUNKHANNOCK — A northeastern Pennsylvania school district has settled a lawsuit alleging that a principal illegally searched a student’s cell phone, found nude pictures she had taken of herself and turned it over to prosecutors.

The Tunkhannock Area School District denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay the student and her lawyers $33,000 to settle the case.

The deal was announced Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which represented the teen in her lawsuit. The ACLU said the student’s claims against the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office have not been settled and will continue to be pursued.

The suit, filed in May in federal court, claims that high school principal Gregory Ellsworth illegally searched the 17-year-old’s phone in January 2009, even though she intended for the racy photos to be seen by only herself and her boyfriend.