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Juvenile detention set in upskirt video case

A teen who shot upskirt videos of female students at Union High School and hacked into numerous social media accounts, sharing their private nude photos, was sentenced Tuesday to 84 days in juvenile detention.

Zachary Bridgeforth, 18, of Vancouver previously pleaded guilty in Clark County Juvenile Court to first-degree computer trespassing, first-degree criminal impersonation, second-degree extortion, second-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and two counts of voyeurism, between the two cases.

In addition to detention, Bridgeforth will serve 90 hours of community service and a year of probation.

Before the sentence was handed down, a parent of one of the victims wrote that they don’t think Bridgeforth’s punishment fits the crime, and described the situation as one of “entitlement and privilege.”

A victim who attended the sentencing told the court she hopes Bridgeforth feels the “emotional punishment” she’s felt. The girl said that since the incidents, she has been “treated like an object, not a person,” adding at the end of her statement, “I hope it was worth it.”

Still, the girl said she’s a fighter, and she’s ready to put this behind her.

When it was her turn to speak, Bridgeforth’s mother turned to the victim sitting in the courtroom and said, “I’m sorry for what my son has done to you and the effect it’s had on you.” She added that although she doesn’t think what her son did was right, she thinks people can change with the right resources and support.

Vancouver police began investigating Sept. 18 after a female student told the school resource officer that someone hacked into her social media account, accessed nude photos that were kept in a private section of the account and then distributed the photos to other students.

The investigation led to Bridgeforth’s arrest that same month. Police served a search warrant on his cellphone and found 16 upskirt videos, all shot at Union High School. The videos were shot between May 6, 2016, and Sept. 14, 2017, and in all of them, the female students did not appear to be aware that the filming was occurring, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in juvenile court.

Bridgeforth could be seen in at least four of the videos as the one filming, the affidavit said.

As the investigation unfolded, police found that between June 14 and Oct. 11, 2017, multiple internet protocol, or IP, addresses traced to Bridgeforth’s residence and cellphone logged into the social media accounts of at least 11 female students, according to a separate probable cause affidavit.

In January, a hearing was held to determine whether the juvenile court should decline to prosecute and send the hacking case to Superior Court. A judge determined the case should remain in juvenile court, in part, because there are better resources to help rehabilitate Bridgeforth, who turned 18 that same month.

On Tuesday, Bridgeforth offered a tearful apology to the court.

“I’d like to say I’m sorry for what I did and how it affected all the victims and my family and how it affected myself,” Bridgeforth said. He added that he didn’t think about how his actions would hurt others.

“I feel awful. Yes, I made poor decisions, and I wish I could take them back, but I can’t,” he said. Going forward, he said he wants to do better to make up for what he’s done.

Bridgeforth’s attorney, Steve Thayer, had asked the court if his client could serve his time through a work release program, which would allow him to work outside in the community and be confined when he’s not working.

Thayer said Bridgeforth has no prior criminal history, and was referred to counseling and has been making great progress. He’s a straight-A student who recently graduated from a different high school.

“He’s a good boy,” Thayer said. “I think there’s a lot of shenanigans going on at school . and he got caught up in that. That’s not to say he didn’t do anything wrong.”

Deputy Prosecutor Brian Pruett argued that work release was never on the table as part of the plea deal. And the alternative confinement would lessen the severity of his punishment, he said.

Commissioner Dayann Liebman rejected the defense’s request. She told Bridgeforth that this is a “troubling and difficult case.”

“You had to know that wouldn’t make them feel good,” she said of Bridgeforth sharing the photos. “You abused their trust.”