File Photo – Richmond-Burton Community High School | Photo: District 157

Police are investigating after a Richmond High School student possibly used artificial intelligence to create sexually explicit images of students and staff members and distribute them.

Richmond-Burton Community High School Principal Mike Baird said in a letter this week to parents about an incident that the district was made aware of on Monday.

Baird said some “sensitive images” were created and circulated on a computer.

The school contacted the Richmond Police Department after being informed of the situation.

“We are currently working side by side with them in a thorough investigation of the matter. I want to assure you that we are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness and are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students,” Baird said.

Stephanie Essex, a parent whose daughter attends the school, told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that another student took photographs of other students and teachers and used artificial intelligence to turn them into nude photographs.

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The student then shared the modified photos with other students.

Approximately 30 students and three staff members were victimized, Essex said, adding that none of the photographs the student initially took were inappropriate to start with.

The parent said she has been “absolutely livid” from the beginning of the situation. “At first my daughter was pretty upset. She felt nauseous and ultimately left school part way through the day.”

“There was some crying and then the fear of who else has those images or how could them impact her future. Now she’s mad about it too and she wants this young man held accountable,” Essex said.

Essex called it “unfortunate” that some of the other girls involved are not coming forward.

Essex said she does not believe charges have been filed yet as the investigation is ongoing.

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The principal said in the letter that the school was limited in the information they could share due to the “sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation.”

“We understand the concern this may cause, and we want to emphasize that our top priority is the safety and security of our students and the school community,” Baird said.

Baird asked parents to take a moment to engage in conversations with their children about the potential dangers associated with social media and the permanent impact of decisions made online.

“Furthermore, please encourage your children to learn from positive examples in their lives, including the guidance provided by their parents and guardians. The choices we make on social media can have lasting consequences, and it is essential for us as adults to set a positive example for our young people,” Baird said.

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