Provided by Randy Upton
Kelsey Upton, with her parents, Randy and Melissa Upton, said she is speaking publicly about the incident because, “I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”
High school junior Kelsey Upton was puzzled.
Why was a stranger from Iowa sending her a text message?
Her confusion turned to terror last fall when she learned that the person who had sent the message had plucked her personal information from a pornographic website.
Without her knowledge, someone had placed her name and phone number on the site next to a photo of a naked woman, in an explicit position, who somewhat resembled her.
How could that be?
Her father, a federal investigator who previously worked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, traced the posting to a Citadel cadet, with the help of law enforcement officials.
But to their dismay, Upton and her father learned that no crime was committed.
Now Randy and Kelsey Upton, who live in Oxford, Ga., plan to meet with legislators and other public officials to try to make such actions a crime.
"I want him arrested," said Kelsey Upton, now 17. "But if that won't happen, I want a law about this so someone doesn't just get a slap on the wrist."
Randy Upton said he and his daughter traveled to Charleston on Monday to attend a meeting of the Commandant's Board, a group that will decide whether the cadet will receive disciplinary action.
Kelsey and her father read statements to the board about how the events had traumatized Kelsey and her family.
Then the cadet read an apology statement, Randy Upton said. To him, the cadet didn't sound sincere.
The Uptons have told their story to several media outlets, including CBS' "The Early Show." But they didn't release the name of the school where the website posting originated until Tuesday.
Randy Upton said he wanted to attend the Commandant's Board meeting before he released the name of the school.
Kelsey Upton said she knew the cadet because he is a friend of a friend. She learned about him posting her name and cell phone number on the website after receiving a text message from a 55-year-old man from Iowa.
The Post and Courier reached the cadet accused of posting her personal information Tuesday afternoon. The newspaper is not printing the cadet's name because he has not been charged with a crime.
He said he would have to call back, and that the call "might be a violation of my FERPA rights." He did not call back.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law places limits on the release of students' personal information. It does not prohibit the press from calling a student, or a student from talking with the press.
Jeff Perez, The Citadel's vice president for external affairs, confirmed that the cadet was a student at the school. But, he said, federal law prohibits the school from discussing disciplinary cases.
Kelsey Upton said that when she attended the Commandant's Board meeting, The Citadel gave her the option of using a different entrance to the room so she wouldn't come face to face with the cadet in the hallway.
She declined the offer and went on with the meeting. "It felt kind of good to stand there and look him in the eye and tell him how much he hurt me," she said.
Randy Upton said some people have asked him if the situation was embarrassing to him and his daughter. He said he told his daughter that she did nothing wrong and she has nothing to be ashamed of.
But, he said, he also told Kelsey that the image is now out in cyberspace, so it could come up again. That's why the family launched "an aggressive campaign" to get the word out about the incident.
"My daughter is strong enough to endure this," he said. "But if it happened to other girls, it could crush them."
Kelsey Upton said that's why she is speaking publicly about what happened to her. "I don't want this to happen to anybody else."