Lafayette, IN – A mom is being charged with deliberately posting a nude photo of her teenage daughter on the girl’s Facebook. In this nude teen photo, the girl’s face, breasts, and genitals were clearly visible. The victim is less than 18 years old. The teen’s mother, Lynda A. Rusk, 50, was charged Wednesday with child exploitation, a Class C felony, and possession of child pornography, a Class D felony, and a warrant has been issued for the mom’s arrest.
According to TheSpectrum.com, the event that led to the accusation that the mom deliberately posted a nude teen photo on Facebook occurred back in November 8, 2011. Police could not bring charges because of time required to subpoena Facebook and the iPhone cellular provider along with the time necessary to review the paperwork and evidence.
“We wanted to make sure to do everything we could for this young lady,” said Detective Mark Pinkard of the Lafayette Police Department. “A major concern was you never know who saw the photo. Anyone could have saved it or took a screenshot. Once something is posted online, it’s out there forever.”
Fortunately, investigators thus far have not found the photo posted elsewhere.
The police investigation began when the teen girl’s teacher contacted police over concerns of her well-being. The girl had been staying with grandparents, but the mother removed her from school on November 8. No one had heard from the girl since, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The nude teen photo was taken by the daughter using an Apple iPhone, but the mother allegedly had possession of the cellphone when the picture was uploaded to Facebook. Based upon Facebook and cell phone records, the teenage daughter was checked into a counseling center from 11 am on November 8 to 7 pm on November 9. The mother originally claimed she took her daughter to the counseling center after noticing the girl’s nude photo on Facebook at 5 am November 8, 2011.
The teen’s mom had allegedly confiscated the iPhone and the nude teen photo was uploaded to Facebook via the mobile device at 2:34 pm. When confronted with contradicting information, Rusk allegedly claimed to not use Facebook or an iPhone — though she had an iPhone herself — and that, if she had uploaded the picture, it was an “accident.”
Detectives used cellphone records and towers to track the iPhone’s location and 90 mile route to the counseling center and back, with the iPhone staying in Lafayette after November 8. This sounds like solid evidence, but keep in mind that using cell phone records to track location is not always very accurate.
According to ExForensis, an expert in “cellular tower technology forensics,” he has found serious errors in over 75 percent of the cases he’s testified in. I can provide anecdotal testimony supporting this, since I once placed two cell phone calls shortly apart while stuck in traffic near Daytona Beach, FL. I got charged with long distance calls since cell phone records showed my location first in South Carolina and then in Georgia. I would have traveled hundreds of miles by car in under an hour in order for that to be true, but the cellular carrier insisted their data was accurate and hit me with a very large bill.
Another point to keep in mind is that the Facebook mobile app is designed to put photo uploads into a queue if sufficient bandwidth is not currently available. It is possible that the teenage girl attempted the nude photo upload before the iPhone was confiscated, but that it did not occur until later as a background upload while in the hands of the mother. But that still does not explain the conflicting testimony by the mother.
If convicted on the child exploitation charge that the mom deliberately posted a nude teen photo on Facebook, Rusk could face six to 20 years in prison. The police have not released a motive for this alleged criminal act. Do you think there is more to the story of this case or that the evidence is solid enough to put the mom in prison?