Judge tosses part of lawsuit over Facebook bikini photo

Updated:

Loading
FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. —

A judge tossed out parts of a lawsuit filed against the Fayette County School District after an administrator displayed a student's bikini picture during a seminar on Internet safety.

"I was embarrassed. I was horrified," Chelsea Chaney told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman. "It never crossed my mind that this would ever, ever happen to me."

Chaney, who is now a college sophomore at University of Georgia, said the Fayette County Schools Director of Technology used a photo taken from her Facebook profile to tell parents and students about the dangers of posting pictures on the Internet and the long-term effects. The presentation happened at a district-wide seminar.

The photo was posted with the title "Once it's there, it's there to stay," Chaney said.

On Sept. 30, federal Judge Timothy Batten dropped the Fayette County Public School District from the lawsuit.

In an order, Batten wrote, "She shared her Facebook page, which includes her pictures, not only with her friend but theirs friends too. By doing so, Chaney surrendered any reasonable expectation of privacy when she posted a picture of her Facebook profile, which she chose to share with the broad audience available to her."

Chaney admits she posted the photo on her Facebook page but thought only friends and friends of friends could see it.

"I understand people are going to look at it that I put it out there, but a school administrator to target me as an example of a bad child?" Chaney said.

Chaney and her attorney are going forward with her lawsuit against Curtis Cearley in his personal capacity. He is the director of technology services who complied and presented the slides.

Shortly following the incident, Cearley sent Chaney an apology letter which stated, "Upon reflection, inclusion of the photo at the Community Awareness seminar may have made a point, it also embarrassed your family and for that I offer my humble apology."

She and her attorney take issue with the fact that she didn't give permission for her photo to be used.

Cearley's attorney sent Stockman a statement saying, "The judge issued a well-reasoned order, and we certainly agree that this plaintiff  'intentionally shared a picture of herself in a bikini with a broad audience' and therefore had no reasonable and legitimate expectation of privacy. Her lawsuit seeking $2 million from this school employee has no merit."

The Chaney family told Stockman they tried to work with the school district to come to a resolution but were forced to hire an attorney.

"I wish it was taken more seriously and gotten a more sincere apology," Chaney said.

Chaney is asking for $2 million in her claim.

Chaney said she is also pushing for laws that protect the privacy of minors on the Internet.

"There is law for minors in every other part of life, why not social media?" Chaney said.