|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 16, 2021
Case # 21CF3575
Public Information Officer
Office: 714-347-8405, Cell: 714-504-1917
SANTA ANA, Calif. – 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. Multiple student accounts were hacked in order to interrupt two classes with a video filled with racist rants.
Aaron Ketelaar, 19, of Orange, has been charged with one felony count of unauthorized computer access along with a felony hate crime enhancement. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison if convicted on all counts.
“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. The anonymity of the Internet is assisting haters in finding other like-minded people to help them carry out their racist acts in the hopes that they will be able to slink away into the depths of the Internet without their true identities being revealed,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Our schools – whether they are online or in person – must be safe havens for our children to learn and thrive. 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.”
On December 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.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department SMART team was assigned to investigate in conjunction with Orange UniField’s IT Department after the hacked posts were reported in January 2021.
Ketelaar was identified by investigators as accessing the students’ accounts during the same time the offensive posts and videos were being posted.
Deputy District Attorney David McMurrin of the Hate Crimes Unit is prosecuting this case.