Teen sues over school's use of Facebook photo

July 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ga., July 8 (UPI) -- A University of Georgia student has filed a $2 million lawsuit against her former high school for using a photo of her without her permission.

Chelsea Chaney, 19, filed the lawsuit against her former high school and the Fayette County School District for using a photograph of her in a bikini during an Internet safety seminar in October 2011, the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald reported.

Chaney said she was 17 and a student at Starr's Mill High School in Fayetteville when she attended a countywide "Community Awareness Seminar," which featured a portion on social networking presented by Curtis Cearley.

The lawsuit alleged that Cearley displayed a slide titled "Once it's there it's there to stay," that featured a picture of Chaney in a bathing suit standing next to a cutout of rap star Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg. The picture was taken during a family vacation.

"Even more incredibly, the slide included Chelsea's full name, which was clearly visible to all attendees at the seminar," the lawsuit states.

"In short, to illustrate the manner in which Internet postings can later shame and disgrace the poster, Cearley stole Chelsea's photograph and presented it out of context to intentionally shame and disgrace Chelsea by name in front of hundreds of her teachers, her peers, their parents and other Fayette County residents," the lawsuit alleges.

Using the photo violated Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, as well as the school district's own policies governing Internet usage, privacy and other areas, the lawsuit said.

Chaney's attorney Pete Wellborn said Chaney and her family contacted lawyers only after the school refused to hold an assembly to address the issue.

"If they had held that assembly, I never would have been called" to represent Chaney, he said.

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