2 minors arrested and charged in AI-generated fake photos of Richmond-Burton High School girls

Richmond-Burton High School

Two minors have been arrested and charged in juvenile court in connection with allegations that they used artificial intelligence tools to make fake nude images of students at Richmond-Burton Community High School.

The youths are charged with possession of child sexual abuse material, known as child pornography in Illinois law, and distribution of harmful materials to a minor, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally confirmed Friday.

Kenneally said the two juveniles were taken into custody Monday. He did not identify the minors or give their ages.

One minor is charged with 17 counts of child pornography, a Class 1 charge, and two counts of distribution of harmful materials to a child, Kenneally said. The second minor is charged with 13 counts of child pornography and four Class 3 child pornography charges.

Parents and students at Richmond-Burton were notified via email March 11 that “sensitive images” of students had been created and distributed via a computer. Those images are believed to have been created using AI tools and images of classmates taken from social media sites.

Richmond parent Stephanie Essex and her daughter, Stevie Hyder, 15, said Hyder saw one of those images of herself. The original photo was taken outside the school before the 2023 prom. The altered photo removed her and another girl’s dresses, Hyder said. They believe other girls had their images used similarly, Essex said.

Stephanie Essex, left, and her daughter, Stevie Hyder, at their Richmond-area home on Thursday, March 14, 2024. Stevie was among nearly 30 students and staff that found their online images were stolen to create nude photos using AI tools.

“I am relieved to hear that the individuals responsible have been charged, and I’m very pleased to learn that the charges do fall under child pornography, as I believe they should,” Essex wrote in a statement to the Northwest Herald.

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