Education

‘Cheer mom’ accused of sending anonymous texts to parents about girls’ behavior found guilty

A Pennsylvania mom accused of bullying three of her daughter’s cheerleading teammates was convicted by a jury Friday of three counts of harassment.

Raffaela Spone, 51, usually recognized in information tales because the “cheer mom,” allegedly focused three teenage ladies for harassment, largely by means of texts from unknown or blocked numbers, Hilltown Township police stated.

Some of the conduct described in texts or proven in imagery may have been sufficient to kick the focused teenagers off the cheerleading squad, authorities stated final 12 months.

Matt Weintraub speaks about a case involving a A 50-year-old woman who was charged last week with cyberbullying three teens on her daughter's cheerleading squad, including using "deep fake" technology to doctor photos and video of one of them.
Matt Weintraub speaks a couple of case involving a A 50-year-old lady who was charged final week with cyberbullying three teenagers on her daughter’s cheerleading squad, together with utilizing “deep fake” expertise to physician photographs and video of one in all them. Bucks County District Attorney through YouTube

Spone’s protection stated it was by no means confirmed that the texts and imagery got here from Spone, and argued that whoever despatched it might have acted in good religion to tell the ladies’ dad and mom about their conduct, in response to the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s account of the trial’s finish.

Spone’s lawyer, Robert Birch, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The youngsters, in addition to Spone’s daughter, have been members of the Victory Vipers, a non-public, nonacademic cheerleading crew in Doylestown. The enterprise stated in a press release final 12 months that it “has always promoted a family environment and we are sorry for all individuals involved.”

The names of the victims and their dad and mom have been withheld by officers.

Authorities initially alleged Spone used “deep fake” video manipulation expertise to make it seem as if at the least one teammate was misbehaving.

A 17-year-old woman, one of many case’s three victims, alleged final 12 months that video of her vaping and a photograph of her nude have been fraudulent. The teammate additionally stated Spone despatched her a number of textual content messages, together with one which instructed she ought to commit suicide.

Her mom reported the allegations to the Hilltown Township Police Department, which responded by kicking off an investigation in July 2020.

In May 2021, the Bucks County District Attorney’s workplace backed off its preliminary allegations that the defendant used “deep fake” software program.

The case finally solely included three straight-forward counts of misdemeanor harassment within the third diploma. Three different counts associated to the allegations of manipulation weren’t thought of at trial.

District Attorney Matt Weintraub alleged in his May assertion that even with out the sensational deep faux allegations, Spone “sent photos, videos and texts designed to harass three innocent children.”

Police investigators stated the texts and media on the middle of the case have been despatched in summer time 2020 and alleged they described the cheerleaders as having “toxic traits” akin to ingesting, smoking, or spending an excessive amount of time with boys. The DA’s workplace stated final 12 months a few of the texts included photographs of the ladies that have been paired with “cruel captions.”

Police stated they’d tracked the texts to a novel IP tackle in line with Spone’s location. At least a few of the texts got here from Spone’s telephone, the division stated.

Under Pennsylvania legislation, harassment within the third diploma can embody repeatedly sending messages anonymously and utilizing the web to harass a toddler. Each of the three counts carry a most sentence of 1 12 months in jail. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

On Friday, Weintraub reiterated his long-held assertion that Spone broke the legislation no matter what expertise was concerned.

“The jury heard the facts proving Ms. Spone’s guilt,” he stated by a spokesperson. “They rejected her full defense, and properly found her guilty of criminally harassing three teenage victims. The justice system has worked as it should.”

If you or somebody you realize is in disaster, name the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, textual content HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/assets for added assets.



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