Mum accused of making 'deepfakes' of cheerleader daughter's rivals

Stock photo of cheerleaders Credit: AP

A Pennsylvania woman is accused of doctoring photos and video of her daughter’s cheerleading rivals to try to get them kicked off the squad.

Pennsylvanian police charged Raffaela Spone, 50, with three misdemeanor counts of cyber harassment of a child and related offences last week.

Spone is accused of manipulating photos from social media of three girls on the Victory Vipers cheerleading squad in Chalfont to make it appear they were drinking, smoking and sometimes nude, investigators said.

The police also said Spone also sent messages with the so-called “deepfake” pictures to the girls and suggested they kill themselves.

Raffaela Spone was charged last week Credit: Hilltown Township Police Department

Police said they began investigating in July 2020 after reports of juveniles being harassed with text messages and soon more young people began coming forward.

As part of the investigation, the police carried out multiple searches before arresting Spone.

Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub told local news show WPVI-TV: "The suspect is alleged to have taken a real picture and edited it through some photoshopping app to make it look like this teenaged girl had no clothes on to appear nude, when in reality that picture was a screengrab from the teenager's social media in which she had a bathing suit on."

Spone’s attorney, Robert Birch told WPVI-TV he can’t comment because he said the prosecutors haven't presented any evidence.

Mr Birch said: “She has absolutely denied what they’re charging her with and because of the fact that this has hit the press, she has received death threats. She has had to go to the police herself, they have a report.”

He added: “Her life has been turned upside down.”

The cheerleading team expressed sympathy for the families involved and said the team has a “very strict anti-bullying policy.”