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Wakefield parents protest return of student accused of posting ‘up-skirt’ photos online

“I feel like they want to check their boxes, offer counseling, get through the process and have it go away.”

The father of a Wakefield Memorial High School student says his daughter is one of several girls who had inappropriate photos taken of them and uploaded to the internet by a fellow student without her consent.

Parents turned up outside the school on Thursday to protest the student in question’s supposed return to class this Monday, Boston 25 News reports.

“I refer to the young man as a sexual predator,” the father who spoke with the news station said. Boston 25 News did not identify him because his daughter is the victim of sexual harassment and cyberbullying. “I’m not talking about innocent, candid photos. I’m talking about photos that are inappropriate.”

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The father told the outlet a male student at the school took over 200 pictures of female students’ backs and between their legs — as many as eight students in total — without their consent and posted them on Discord, a social media site. The student also joked about rape, according to the station.

“It’s been framed as ‘inappropriate social media behavior.’ That isn’t even close to what this is,” he said.

According to the station, the student is expected to return to the school on Monday after an extended absence. The district did not inform families what punishment the student is facing nor what officials will do to ensure he is kept away from the alleged victims, the father said.

“I just don’t think [the boy] coming back to school Monday is appropriate,” the father said.

Boston.com reached out to both Wakefield schools Superintendent Douglas Lyons and Wakefield police on the matter on Friday morning but did not receive responses.

However, Lyons addressed the incident in a statement to Boston 25 News on Friday afternoon:

The Wakefield Public Schools learned of an incident on Oct. 11 involving a Wakefield Memorial High School student’s serious and inappropriate use of social media.

As soon as this conduct was reported, we began collaborating with the Wakefield Police Department and took action to develop a fuller understanding of its impacts and address the situation. We have worked closely with the families of the students who have been impacted by this incident and are committed to continuing to provide them the support they need to move forward.

The steps we’ve taken to address this behavior so far have aligned with our policies and procedures around student discipline, and we are working closely with the Wakefield Police Department to support law enforcement’s work related to this incident.

I am cognizant of the concern and frustration many in our community feel about this incident, but state and federal privacy rules place limits on how much we can share about this incident publicly. Still, I want to reassure all of our stakeholders that we are committed to working to ensure our students feel physically and emotionally safe in school.

Wakefield Police Chief Steven Skory told the news station on Thursday the department is assisting school administrators with the investigation.

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“There is nothing I can discuss at this time because this incident involves juveniles,” Skory wrote in an email.

A spokesperson for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office also told Boston 25 News prosecutors are aware of the situation but were unable to comment further because the accusations involve juveniles.

As of Thursday, parents were slated to return outside the school for protests on Friday and Monday morning at 6:45 a.m., the news station reports.

“I didn’t see a human reaction from these [school] administrators,” the father said. “I feel like they want to check their boxes, offer counseling, get through the process and have it go away.”

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