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Teen charged for creating false social media post
Union-Recorder - 5/3/2021
Apr. 30—A 13-year-old GMC Prep middle school student is learning that actions online can have real-world consequences.
On Friday, April 23, a false social media post was found stating that GMC Prep School coach and P.E. teacher Shawn Dennis had been arrested on several very serious charges including possession of child pornography, child molestation, child abuse and possession of a controlled substance. The post was made to look like a newspaper clipping, but was not valid in any way.
The juvenile accused of creating the post and sharing it to an Instagram account has been charged with one count of harassing communications by the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office (BCSO). BCSO Maj. Scott Deason shared that the child is a 13-year-old seventh-grade student at GMC Prep.
Deason said his phone was ringing nonstop the night of April 23 as the false narrative came to the attention of school parents and administrators. The case was handed over to Deputy Sgt. Jerome Roberts, who through further investigation, traced the post back to its origin. Names were withheld from Roberts' incident report due to the accused offender being a juvenile.
"After speaking with Maj. Deason, I learned several students stated [redacted] was the one that created the false article, and it possibly started with his Instagram account," Roberts said in his report.
That same night the post was making its rounds, GMC Prep issued a statement backing its employee.
"GMC Prep School is aware of a fake news story, an absolute lie, that is circulating online about one of our Coaches, Shawn Dennis," the statement read. "There is absolutely no truth to the slanderous accusations made in the fake story which is a lie."
Roberts added in his report that he contacted the child's parents to speak with them about the incident. According to the report, the child has been suspended from school. GMC Prep would not confirm, saying only in a second statement that, "appropriate disciplinary action" has been taken.
A juvenile complaint form was completed and Roberts said the Department of Juvenile Justice would mail out a court summons at a later date.
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