A Bucks County woman anonymously sent coaches on her teen daughter’s cheerleading squad fake photos and videos that depicted the girl’s rivals naked, drinking, or smoking, all in a bid to embarrass them and force them from the team, prosecutors say.
The woman, Raffaela Spone, also sent the manipulated images to the girls, and, in anonymous messages, urged them to kill themselves, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub’s office said.
The affidavit says Spone last year created the doctored images of at least three members of the Victory Vipers, a traveling cheerleading squad based in Doylestown. There was no indication that her high school-age daughter, who was not publicly identified, knew what her mother was doing, according to court records.
Police in Hilltown Township were contacted by one of the victim’s parents in July, when that girl began receiving harassing text messages from an anonymous number, the affidavit said. The girl and her coaches at Victory Vipers were also sent photos that appeared to depict her naked, drinking, and smoking a vape. Her parents were concerned, they told police, because the videos could have caused their daughter to be removed from the team.
As police investigated, two more families came forward to say their daughters had been receiving similar messages from an unknown number, the affidavit said. The other victims were sent photos of themselves in bikinis, with accompanying text saying the subjects were “drinking at the shore.”
After analyzing the videos, detectives determined they were “deepfakes” — digitally altered but realistic looking images — created by mapping the girls’ social media photos onto other images.