Two former members of the University Washington rowing team have been charged with disclosing intimate images.
According to court documents, Tyler J. Minney and John C. Young used their cell phones to shoot and share sexually explicit photos and videos of female UW students. The state has requested they have no contact with their alleged victims.
The two were suspended indefinitely from the UW rowing program back in May pending the investigation, according to Jennifer Cohen, University of Washington director of athletics. On Friday, the school said the pair were no longer part of the team.
“We are aware of charges filed against two former members of our men’s rowing program. Those individuals were immediately suspended from the team when we first learned of the investigation, and are now no longer part of the program. We take these matters very seriously and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our students," a University of Washington athletic department spokesperson said in a statement.
During their investigation, University of Washington police said three victims came forward, but only two of the victims are referenced in the prosecutor's formal charges.
A 19-year-old woman told police she found out that the two rowers were circulating a sexually explicit video of her and the two men that was taken on December 10, 2016.
The woman said she went to a room in McMahon Hall on December 10 to hang out with Minney. She said when she arrived, Young was also in the room.
She told police she was intoxicated when she arrived at McMahon Hall, and she remembers laying on the bed next to Minney. However, she said she blacked out and doesn’t remember anything after that.
When the woman woke up in the morning, she asked Young what had happened, and he said, “I don’t know,” according to court documents.
Later when the woman asked the two men if anything had happened between the three of them that night, the men denied it, according to documents.
Investigators say it wasn't until April of 2017 when the woman learned of the video that had been circulating. That's when she went to UW’s Title IX Office to file a sexual assault report on April 10.
During the investigation, police say a text message was recovered from Minney's phone on February 24 asking Young, "Can you send me the video of [victim's name]?"
The video was not recovered by police but the woman reported multiple people on the crew team having seen it. Detectives interviewed several of those people, who reportedly confirmed Minney and Young shared it with them.
A separate victim told police that on or about October 8, 2016, she was with Minney in McMahon Hall at UW. She said she was very intoxicated and remembered having sex with him, but then she blacked out.
She later learned that a photograph of her taken by Minney was circulating. She said she did not consent to the photo being taken and had no memory of it.
The woman said she later confronted Minney about the photo and he admitted to taking it and sending it to a friend.
During the investigation, police say a text message was recovered from Minney's phone, apologizing for taking the photo and admitting to sending it to a friend.
Police said they recovered what appears to be the photo in question on Young's iCloud account.
A third victim contacted police on May 5 claiming that she was sexually assaulted by Minney in December 2016 in McMahon Hall.
She said her and Minney were drinking together when she blacked out. When she came to, her and Minney were having sex. She said she quickly blacked out again.
After reviewing details of the investigation conducted by UW Police, prosecutors charged Minney with two counts of disclosing intimate images. Young was charged with one count of disclosing intimate images.
"The actions of the defendants have profoundly and negatively impacted the lives of [victim's names] by causing them embarrassment, shame, and pain. The pattern of behavior shown by Minney is also particularly concerning," prosecutors wrote in charging documents.
The law regarding the disclosure of intimate images is relatively new in Washington state. It was passed in 2015 and makes it illegal to publish, transmit, or transfer an intimate image without that person's consent.
The King County Prosecutor's office says this case is only the third in which they've filed charges regarding the sharing of intimate images since the law took effect.
Disclosing intimate images is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. If the person depicted in a photo or video is a minor, sharing it could be prosecuted as the distribution of child porn, which carries a much harsher penalty.
Media literacy teacher and president of Action 4 Media Education Michael Danielson told KING 5 he hopes the charges in this case serve as an eye opener to other teens and really anyone with a cell phone. He says it highlights both the legal trouble people can face for sharing intimate images, and the emotional pain that the crime can have on a victim.
"Young people and everyone should pay attention to this," he said. "So I'm sad that this happened, but I also hope it raises awareness."
Action 4 Media Education offers these resources and tips for parents on how to talk to your kids about this topic and others connected to media literacy.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the charges against the two UW students. This version has been updated.
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