The prosecution called the woman’s behavior “weird, creepy, and unsettling.”
But the prosecution’s handling of the case was also unsettling and the charging police officer turned out to be beyond creepy.
The Hilltown Township mother initially accused of creating a “deep fake” video of her daughter’s cheerleading teammate was instead found guilty March 25 of a much less viral charge.
A Bucks County jury said Raffaela Spone, 51, was guilty of three counts of misdemeanor harassment for sending incriminating photos and videos of the girls via text message from an anonymous phone number during the summer of 2020. She faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail on each count. No sentencing date has been set yet.
But despite the successful guilty verdict, the case did not reflect well on Bucks County’s Republican District Attorney Matt Weintraub, or the Hilltown Township Police Department, who rushed to say that Spone doctored a video in what is known as a “deep fake” — without really exercising due diligence.
They apparently were wrong.
But even more embarrassing is that former Hilltown Police Officer Matthew Reiss who filed the charges that included the allegation that Spone used “deep fake” technology later resigned in disgrace for possession of child pornography. As the Bucks County Courier Times reported, “He has since been charged with more than 1,700 counts of felony child pornography possession.”
Often referred to in the media as the “cheer mom,” Spone was found guilty of sending photos, videos and texts to the teens’ mothers, but from an anonymous phone number. All the girls, and Spone’s daughter, were members of the Victory Vipers cheerleading squad, based in Doylestown. The girls were considered rivals of Spone’s daughter.
This mother’s behavior was in fact “weird, creepy, and unsettling.” But somehow she may have come out of this looking better than the local police and prosecution.