Wakefield parent says student posted voyeuristic ‘upskirting’ pics of girls online

WAKEFIELD, Mass. — A group of parents protested outside Wakefield Memorial High School Thursday because a student accused of sexual harassment and cyberbullying is slated to return to class Monday.

“I refer to the young man as a sexual predator,” said the father of one of the girls involved in the incident. “I’m not talking about innocent, candid photos. I’m talking about photos that are inappropriate.”

Boston 25 is not identifying the father because his underage daughter is the victim of sexual harassment and online bullying. The father said a male high school student took more than 200 pictures of female students’ backsides and between their legs without consent, posted the pictures on the social media site Discord, and joked about rape.

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

The father said as many as seven other girls are involved. Parents are furious because the boy is set to return to school next week after an extended absence, and according to the father, the school district did not tell parents what his punishment is or what the plan is to keep him away from the girls he photographed.

On Friday, the superintendent of Wakefield Schools sent a statement to Boston 25 about the protests.

“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,” said Douglas Lyons, Wakefield Schools Superintendent. “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.”

Lyons also addressed how the school district has handled the case, saying “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.”

Police Chief Steven A. Skory confirmed the department has an open investigation into the matter.

“We are assisting the Wakefield High School administration with an investigation. There is nothing I can discuss at this time because this incident involves juveniles,” Skory said in an email.

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

Parents are now staging protests outside the high school. Gatherings are scheduled for Friday and Monday morning at 6:45 a.m. An online flyer shared on social media said the “Wakefield School Department has the facts but has chosen to be silent.”

“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.”

A spokesperson for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office said they are aware of the accusations.

“We were notified of an alleged incident at the high school and have consulted with the police department on this matter. As this involves juveniles we are not able to comment further at this time,” the spokesperson said.