Police probe as perverts hack school Zoom lesson

Police probe as perverts hack school Zoom lesson

By Adele Forrest | 11/02/2021

Police probe as perverts hack school Zoom lesson
Furious mum Jess Hughes and her family were affected by the hacking incident


SICK perverts committing lewd acts hacked into online classes and threatened distraught schoolchildren after a talk by a children's author was "sabotaged".

Pupils saw a group of naked men exposing their genitals after clicking a link sent by a teacher during lessons on Tuesday, which was Safer Internet Day.

Police are investigating after the online talk — hosted externally to a number of schools — was hacked.

The Laurel Academy in Mexborough and De Warenne Academy in Coinsbrough were among those affected.

Furious mum Jess Hughes (30) said 12-year-old daughter Lexi Shentall had been at home studying on the laptop provided by The Laurel. 

Lexi clicked on a Zoom link sent over Microsoft Teams for a live talk by a children’s author, which parents had been told about the previous day.

She was sitting next to step-sister Lacey (12), who was also working from home.

“Lexi has joined it to be greeted with, in the girls’ words, foreign men with their private parts out and saying rude things,” said Jess, of Mexborough.

The livestream showed eight naked men in separate locations, she said.

“They only saw one of the men’s faces, the others just had the camera directed at their private parts,” added Jess.

“At the time they had been sat at the table in the dining room. Then they came in to tell me what had happened.”

The step-sisters were left shocked and upset.

“They both really just didn’t know what to say, I think they felt like they were going to get in trouble,” said Jess. “I’ve reassured them they’ve done nothing wrong.”

The mum added: “I’ve been crying. I don’t think they understand how severe it is. They are only 12 years old.

“I’ve always had conversations with the girls about being safe on the internet and stranger danger.”

The mum has refused to allow the girls to do any further online school work.

“I’m not willing to take the risk,” added Jess. “I’m getting paper copies sent home.”

Lexi’s dad Kyle Harding (28) went to the school with Jess to complain about the shocking incident.

The link had been provided to schools from an external training provider — children’s literacy organisation Reading Rampage.

He said: “They are 12 years old, seeing something like that. It’s absolutely horrific.”

The furious dad has demanded the school carries out an internal investigation.

The girls have been offered counselling by The Laurel.

A Reading Rampage spokesperson said: "The session was part of a well-established programme providing an opportunity for children to meet authors whose books they have been studying.

“Reading Rampage is being delivered with six Doncaster schools as part of a local school improvement initiative.

“The session arrangements and security of the platform were consistent with eleven successful recent sessions with more than 30 schools.

“In a rapidly unfolding sequence of events, the author’s presentation was sabotaged and our meeting controls over-ridden. We aborted the session as quickly as we could.

“We and the author are absolutely devastated that some of the children experienced this inappropriate incident, during what should have been a positive and inspiring event.

“We are cooperating with the police and relevant organisations to investigate the incident and support the children and staff affected.”

A spokesman for The Delta Academies Trust, which runs The Laurel and De Warenne, said: “We were invited, along with a number of other schools, to take part in this externally-organised, regional initiative.  A small number of our students participated.

“We understand that the event was hacked, which allowed unauthorised access to it.

“We reported this to the police and have asked the regional organisers to provide assurances that all its providers meet security requirements.   

“We have spoken to the parents concerned, offered support to any students affected, and have taken measures to prevent it happening again.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “We received a call on February 9 at 11am reporting an online session being hosted externally to a number of schools, being hacked by two men.

“It is believed they committed lewd acts and made threats towards the children attending the session.

“Enquiries are ongoing to ascertain the circumstances and find those responsible. 

“We are working closely with Doncaster Council and anyone with information that can help officers is asked to call 101 quoting incident number 358 of February 9.”

Attempts to contact Doncaster Council were unsuccessful.

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