Former O.C. student charged with hacking into Google Classroom to post racist, homophobic photos

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A former Villa Park High School student has been charged with illegally hacking into student Google Classroom accounts in order to post racist and homophobic photos and comments in the class announcement section, officials announced Thursday.

Multiple student accounts were hacked in an attempt to interrupt two classes with a video filled with racist rants, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Aaron Ketelaar, 19, of Orange, has been charged with one felony count of unauthorized computer access along with a felony hate crime enhancement, according to the DA’s office.

He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison if convicted on all counts.

On Dec. 18, 2020, several student Google Classroom accounts at Villa Park High School posted racist photos and comments in the class announcement section, which were viewable by the teacher and all students in that class.

A hacked student account was also used to interrupt two classes with a video of a person wearing a skull mask, sunglasses, beanie and headset espousing racial epithets, officials said.

After the hacked posts were reported in January 2021, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department SMART team was assigned to investigate along with Orange Unified School District’s IT Department.

Ketelaar was identified by investigators as accessing the students’ accounts during the same time the offensive posts and videos were being posted, the DA’s office said.

“No one should be subjected to the kind of racist and homophobic messages sent by these hackers under the pretense of being sent by fellow classmates,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a written statement. “These online chat functions are essentially inviting strangers into our homes to interact with our children – and parents must be aware of their children’s online activities and the predators and haters that are using the Internet to prey on our children in order to recruit more haters.”

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