Digital Forensics Dispatch

Digital Forensics Blog
by Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Snapchat Snarls Washington High School Basketball Team Abuse/Sexting Investigation

April 6, 2023

According to a recent article in the Seattle Times, a scandal involving a high school basketball coach in Sumner, Washington, has triggered both civil and criminal investigations.

Jake Jackson, the high school basketball coach, has been accused of soliciting nude photos from players and sharing explicit images of himself with them. Six former players, ages 15 to 17, have made these allegations to police, but the investigation faces challenges. One of the biggest concerns is Snapchat and the way it can be configured to handle messages and attachments.

Snapchat, the app primarily used by Jackson and his accusers, enables users to send images that “vanish” after 10 seconds. Even with sophisticated digital forensic and data recovery techniques, this behavior can make it difficult, if not impossible, for investigators to retrieve the images.

In this case, according to reports, the players apparently did not save any of the over 100 explicit photos to their phones, outside of Snapchat. In response to investigators’ requests for data, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., told detectives that the images were irretrievable on its servers. Texts that came along with the images were recoverable but were apparently not of much use in this case. The criminal investigation is still open and Jackson has denied the allegations.

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