Derrick Jones

Derrick Jones

A senior student at Msgr. Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill was arrested Thursday, May 11 on charges of child pornography and related offenses.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced that Derrick Jones, age 18, is charged with possession and dissemination of child pornography as well as criminal use of a communications device.

According to published reports, Jones is alleged to have amassed thousands of images of nude teen boys. Jones allegedly tricked the boys into sending nude images of themselves via the internet to whom they thought was a girl but was actually Jones. He then was said to blackmail the victims into sending more images under threat that he would expose them publicly, which the DA said he did in one instance.

At least 136 victims have been identified, and five specifically were named in the criminal complaint. About 60 other victims are from the Philadelphia region but the faces of many other victims are unidentified.

A statement Thursday from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said the administration of Bonner-Prendergast High School suspended Jones when informed about the investigation concerning him.

The school is “cooperating fully with law enforcement in this matter,” the statement said, adding that prior to contact from law enforcement, “the school had no indication that Mr. Jones was involved in activity of this nature. He will not be returning to school.”

The arrest of Jones “is deeply disturbing” to the Bonner-Prendergast community, the statement said.  “Our immediate concern is for those who were or may have been victimized. Our understanding is that Delaware County detectives have been in contact with individuals they have reason to believe could be a victim in this matter.”

Those with additional information on the case are urged to contact Detective Sergeant Kenneth Bellis of the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division at 610-891-4717.

“The safety and protection of the young people entrusted to our care are our primary concerns,” the archdiocese said. “We are grateful to law enforcement for alerting us to this situation and will continue to cooperate with them in the course of their work. Counselors will be made available during school hours over the coming days for any students who might need to meet with them. If additional supports are needed, we will work to implement them in the coming days at school.”

The archdiocese said it is committed to the ongoing prevention of child abuse, and regularly provides Catholic school students with “educational resources and programming designed to illustrate appropriate and safe use of technology. We will continue to do all that we can to assist our young people in utilizing technology in a manner that will minimize their exposure to dangerous situations.