State police investigating 'revenge porn' among H.S. students

by Patrick Flanagan

Disturbing trend becomes even more disturbing with the emergence of a number of Instagram accounts offering nude photos of what are believed to be minors from area high schools.

Lafayette High student Colette Bernard

Revenge porn has become a disturbing trend in recent years with the rise of smart technology, but it became even more disturbing last week with the emergence of a number of Instagram accounts offering nude photos of what are believed to be minors from high schools statewide, including Acadiana.

According to KATC TV3, which broke the story after receiving calls from concerned parents, the explicit Instagram accounts suddenly appeared all over the state and attracted thousands of followers with explicit photos of alleged high school students. Instagram has since disabled those accounts, but according to local sources, at least two Acadiana schools were targeted, including Lafayette High and St. Thomas More.

One of the targeted teens was Lafayette High student Colette Bernard, a 14-year-old. After a neck-down photo was tagged with her name on it - it wasn't actually Colette in the photo - she responded with a message on YouTube calling for a stop to cyberbullying and for more awareness of the potential dangers faced by teens living in the age of social media.

Smart move, Colette.

The IND spoke Friday with Louisiana State Police spokesman Trooper Stephen Hammons, who says two of the explicit Instagram photos were emailed to state police last week. He says an investigation is under way to determine the ages of the individuals pictured nude in the photos, though state police have yet to contact Instagram to determine who created the explicit accounts.

"Our investigation is very much in the preliminary stages," says Hammons. "We're trying to determine if they're juveniles, which will determine whether or not a crime has been committed. If a crime has been committed, we'll go from there and determine who all is involved and what charges they would face. It's illegal to even request a photo of a nude juvenile."

The explicit accounts attracted thousands of followers.

Watch Colette's video in its entirety below: