A woman has been charged with harassing children online after she allegedly faked nude images to get her daughter's rivals removed from their school's cheerleading squad.
Raffaela Spone, 50, made fake nude photos and videos of high-school teenagers to get them banned from a cheerleading troupe based in Philidelphia, the US, it is claimed.
The mum was arrested on March 4 after creating indecent images of children and anonymously distributing them to the targeted girls and several cheerleading coaches, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub’s office said.
The messages allegedly showed the girls engaging in compromising behaviour, including drinking, smoking, and partying naked, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In addition, Spone allegedly wrote messages to her victims, including texting them telling them to kill themselves.
Prosecutors claim Spone’s harassment spree began in July 2020, when the first girl, 17, started receiving abusive messages from an anonymous number.
The texts told her that she had no friends and that she should "off herself", it is alleged.
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The 17-year-old told ABC News: “I do get hate comments, nothing to this extreme, but I was really upset. I was like: ‘Who says this to someone? Who thinks it’s ok?’ It made me more mad than upset."
The young lady’s parents contacted the police, who launched an investigation and proved the images were fake once ran through analysing software.
Two other families also contacted the cops, saying that their daughters had started getting similar texts.
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The other girls had received pictures that supposedly portrayed them in bikinis with texts saying the photos were taken while the girls were “drinking at a beach.”
The police tracked the source of the girls’ telephone numbers to a website that sells phone numbers to telemarketers.
Authorities followed the data trail to an IP address, located at a house in Chalfont, PA – where Spone was confronted at her home.
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Police searched her smartphone, and according to court documents, found evidence that linked her to the abusive messages.
The court speculated that the parent's motive was to get the rival cheerleaders kicked off the team to remove competition against her daughter.
The court also heard that all the abuse was done without her daughter's knowledge.
Spone is set to appear at a preliminary hearing on March 30.
If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 0845 30 30 900 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.
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