A schoolgirl suspended for having indecent images of herself on her mobile phone has won $33,000 (£21,240) after suing her school.
The 17-year-old, named as 'N.N.' to protect her privacy, was made to serve a three-day suspension from her high school in north-east Pennsylvania in January last year after a teacher confiscated her phone, which she was using before a lesson was starting.
The school principal then scrolled through N.N.'s mobile phone text messages, e-mails and photographs and found explicit naked images of the student in the gallery - and promptly dished out the suspension.
The images, which had been taken the previous evening after school had not been sent to anyone, and were only intended to be seen by N.N. and her boyfriend.
Last week's verdict is being seen as a victory for young people's right to 'sext' and a landmark case for civil liberties.
The lawsuit charged the school's officials in Tunkhannock Area School District with violating N.N.'s First and Fourth Amendment rights by searching her phone after confiscating it.
A teacher had seized the device after the student was seen using it before classes started, but apparently after school rules allowed students to make calls.
The principal then viewed photos that the girl had taken the night before of herself naked.
In a statement N.N. said: 'I was absolutely horrified and humiliated to learn that school officials, men in the DA's office and police had seen naked pictures of me.'
In last week's agreement, the school district denied any liability or wrongdoing, but agreed to pay N.N. and her lawyers $33,000 to settle the case.
American Civil Liberties Union's legal director Witold Walczak was reported as saying: 'School administrators have no more right to look through personal photographs stored on a student's cell phone then they have the right to rummage through her purse, read her diary and mail, or view her family photo album.'
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