Alleged sexting lands Fayetteville high school QB on the bench

Posted August 31, 2015 11:48 a.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2015 10:17 a.m. EDT

— It is unclear when Cormega Copening will be back under center for the Jack Britt High School football team. The quarterback, who started for the Buccaneers Aug. 21 but was benched last Friday, faces sex charges and won't be back on the field until his legal problems are resolved.

Investigators, looking into an allegation of sexual exploitation at Douglas Byrd High School last fall, asked Copening's mother for permission to to check out his phone.

Copening was not charged in that case, but investigators found five sexually explicit pictures that he had allegedly sent to his girlfriend. For each photo exchanged, Copening and Brianna Benson, 16, face one charge of sexual exploitation.

"Apparently he and his girlfriend were 'sexting' is what it comes down to, and both of them were under the age of 18," said Sean Swain, spokesman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. The exchange of sexual images of a person under 18, even with another person under that age, constitutes a crime in North Carolina.

Although Copening was charged early this year, Leon Mack, director of athletics for Cumberland County Schools, said no one at his old school, Douglas Byrd or his new school, Jack Britt, knew about the felony charges until Copening got into a confrontation with a female student and the school reviewed his record.

In that incident, Copening claims he threw a football that broke the girl's windshield, while she claims he broke it as retaliation after she bumped him with her car.

Copening has a court date on Sept. 30 on the sex charges. If convicted, he would have to register as a sex offender.