DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — A Davidson County teenager is warning other people not to make a mistake she made.
“This is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me,” said Kelsey Roberts. “I would never put anyone through this or want anyone else to go through this.”
The 17-year-old says she’s learning the hardest lesson of her young life. A topless picture she sent to a now ex-boyfriend five months ago showed up on Instagram this week. It was posted in one of several accounts showing nude pictures of North Carolina girls.
Roberts said one account had at least 64 pictures of nude girls and she believes many were from Davidson County.
The SBI is investigating similar incidents in Wake, Durham and Pitt counties. This is the first incident known in the Piedmont.
“I called a couple of my friends and they said, ‘It was you. Your shirt was pulled up, and you had jeans on,’” she said.
People immediately started posting derogatory comments and Kelsey started getting text messages from people at her school.
“They were laughing about it. I got really upset. I started crying my eyes out. I didn’t want to go to school, I just wanted to quit. I don’t know, it broke my heart,” she explained.
The picture didn’t show Kelsey’s face, but it did have her name and where she lives.
“There were over a thousand followers on there. Over a thousand people saw that picture,” she added.
Kelsey finally asked her parents for help.
Her father, Brooks Roberts, said, “Kids need to understand that what they put on the Internet stays on the Internet.”
He wishes there were more safeguards on social media sites.
Kelsey and her dad both understand she made a mistake. But they also blame whoever is creating these Instagram accounts. They say the pictures are posted, then deleted and later posted again under a new account name. They have no idea who has saved the picture or what other sites it could turn up on.
“She’s my baby girl and it’s hard to sit here thinking that people look her that way,” admitted Roberts.
Greensboro Police Officer E.Y. Watkins has worked in school settings where they heard complaints like this all too often.
Watkins is now a Crime Prevention Officer and warns, “It is against the law. These pictures can end up anywhere. Anyone can have them. It’s illegal. It’s a felony.”
She warns parents to talk to their children about the ramifications of taking any inappropriate pictures. It is illegal for an underage person to even take a nude picture of their own body.
It’s a felony to save, share or message an inappropriate picture of a juvenile.
“You really just have to stop and think before you post,” Watkins pointed out.
It’s something Kelsey learned the hard way.
“If you think you want to do something like I did in the first place,” Kelsey concluded, “Think about it. How would you feel if other people saw what you’re sending?”
Her parents are interested in pressing charges if there is enough evidence to catch the people responsible for posting and sharing the pictures online.