January 20, 2022

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Mesa teen sent violent, pornographic content to high school students via Apple’s AirDrop feature, police say

Most teenagers seem to have a smartphone these days, and in this case, Mesa Police officials say an 18-year-old suspect used an iPhone to distribute several photos and videos displaying porn to six students.

In the aftermath of the incident, parents of two students reached out to the district for counseling to help their kids process what they saw.

“If that was me, it would have traumatized me for sure,” said parent Rachel Eldridge.

Police: suspect used iPhone feature to send offensive content

Through court documents, we are now learning how the 18-year-old suspect did this.

According to police, the suspect, identified as Quade Valentino Spencer, used AirDrop, a feature for Apple devices to exchange files, to send videos and photos depicting pornography or violence to students in another classroom.

“My rule is if you wouldn’t show it to your grandma, you shouldn’t show it to anybody else,” said Eldridge.

According to court documents, six students, ranging from 15 to 16 years of age, received the graphic content from Spencer on Dec. 8. The content was described by the students as ‘gross, disgusting, and not safe for work.’

“Due to the nature of how AirDrop works, it is unknown if there were any other students that were on their phones, in other classrooms nearby, that also received these airdropped pictures/victos and didn’t report it,” read a portion of the court documents.

The teen allegedly told police he got airdropped videos and was being a goofball, so he sent them to others.

“I asked him what kind of videos he sent, and he stated ‘kind of pornographic,’” an investigator wrote, in court documents.

One video, according to investigators, involved a violent act by an adult man towards a small child.

“I flinched while watching the video due to the intensity of the violent act,” an investigator wrote.

Suspect has history of disciplinary problems, according to court documents

Quade Spencer

Spencer appeared in court, and he is facing some serious charges.

“There are five counts of furnishing obscene material to minors, class four felony. Five counts transmitting obscene material to minors. These are both class four felonies,” said the presiding judge during Spencer’s court appearance.

“If you make adult decisions, there are adult consequences, and he’s an adult,” said Eldridge. “I think hopefully, this will be a learning lesson for him not to do shady stuff like that.”

According to court documents, Spencer is attending Skyline for a fifth school year, but has only earned 11.5 credits, described by investigators as the equivalent of a 10th grade student.

“I was advised that the defendant will not be able to earn enough credits to graduate prior to aging out,” investigators wrote, in court documents.

According to Arizona law, unless otherwise provided by state law, all schools are required to admit children who are between the age of six and 21.

Investigators say Spencer has been disciplined for drug use, nicotine, disorderly conduct, threats and posting homophobic and racial comments towards another student via social media.

We have reached out to the Mesa Unified School District for comment, but district officials say they do not comment on active police investigations.

What is AirDrop, and how can it be turned off or restricted?

According to an Apple news release in 2013, AirDrop, which was released along with iOS 7, provides users a “new way to quickly and easily share content with people nearby.”

“AirDrop transfers are peer-to-peer so you can use it anywhere, without any network or set up required, and transfers are fully encrypted so your content is protected and private,” read a portion of the news release.

According to officials with Apple, options for the AirDrop feature can be accessed on the Settings page. Users can go to Settings, tap General, and then tap AirDrop to choose an option. There are three options:

  • Receiving off, meaning no AirDrop requests will be received
  • Contacts Only, meaning AirDrop requests can only be made by people in the user’s contact list
  • Everyone, meaning anyone nearby can make an AirDrop request

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