A disturbing story has recently surfaced out of Pennsylvania that has left many conservatives outraged. A 50-year-old woman named Raffaela Spone stands accused of creating “deepfake” images and videos of her daughter’s cheerleading rivals.
Spone reportedly used computer software to alter images of three girls to make them appear “naked, drinking, and smoking” in the video and images. The intention was to hurt the girls’ reputations on the Victory Vipers cheer squad for Bucks County.
The deepfake videos backfired, however, and now Spone is facing serious charges. At the time of her arrest in March 2021, Pennsylvania cops claimed that she had sent shocking images to the girls along with harassing text messages and threats from disguised phone numbers.
In the two months since Spone was arrested, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub confessed that police do not have definitive evidence that Spone created the damning images. They also do not even have evidence that the images were manipulated in the first place, which means that Spone might not get convicted of the charges against her.
“While investigators originally believed at least one video showed evidence of the use of so-called deep-fake face-replacement technology, police are at this point unable to confirm the video evidence was falsified,” Weintraub said at a preliminary hearing.
Despite this lack of evidence, Weintraub plans to go after Spone for harassing the teenage girls over the phone. Spone currently faces six charges, three for cyber harassment of a child and three for harassment. “Harassment is a crime. It is illegal for an adult to harass a child,” Weintraub said. “Pennsylvania law does not permit an adult to repeatedly and anonymously annoy, alarm or harass someone.”
Now, Magisterial District Judge Regina Armitage agreed with Weintraub that there was enough evidence to bring Spone to trial. Her court date was set for June 9, 2021. Although she has denied creating the images – and asserts that she is innocent – Spone plans to defend herself with the help of attorney Robert Birch.
Birch complained that Weintraub’s handling of the case has been poor and that there isn’t enough evidence against his client. “The DA held a press conference in March where he told the press this was about Mrs. Spone using deep fake technology to target these alleged victims,” Birch said. “He also stated that they had voice messages that stated that the girls should ‘kill themselves.’” Birch said. ‘He caused an international fury over this when he knew that there was no such evidence.”
One of the victims, Madi Hime, contacted the police about the harassment last summer. “I went in the car and started crying and was like: ‘That’s not me in the video,’” Madi, now 17, told GMA. “I thought if I said it, no one would believe me because obviously, there’s proof, there’s a video – but obviously that video was manipulated.”
This disturbing case is a reminder of the dangers of deepfake technology and how it can be used to harm others. It also highlights the importance of protecting the rights and safety of children, who should not be subjected to such harassment and abuse.