A Florida mother is suing a local school and Instagram on behalf of her 13-year-old daughter, who was wrongly arrested and spent 11 days detained in a juvenile detention center after a classmate impersonated her online and sent threatening social media messages.
The girl, Nia Whims, has been exonerated of all charges after police alleged that a 12-year-old student at the school had “maliciously impersonated” her.
The Pembroke Police Department said in a statement that the 12-year-old had used Nia’s personal details to create an email address, opened multiple Instagram accounts, and sent herself and other students threatening messages.
The 12-year-old, identified in the lawsuit by the initials M.S., used the fake accounts to make threats to blow up the school and kill teachers and students, the lawsuit said. M.S. then “intentionally lied to law enforcement and school staff to frame” Nia for the threats, police said in their statement.
Nia’s mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, alleged in her lawsuit that her daughter’s school failed to investigate multiple bullying incidents her daughter experienced, the police department failed to promptly investigate whether the Instagram accounts truly belonged to Nia, and that Instagram failed to cooperate promptly with authorities.
A lawyer representing Davis and Nia did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Instagram representatives also did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A spokesperson for Renaissance Charter School at Pines declined to answer questions due to pending litigation, but told Insider in a statement that the school’s “highest priority remains the safety and security of our students. We always have and always will take all appropriate actions to ensure our students and staff are safe.”
The lawsuit alleges that despite Nia’s lengthy 11-day detention, determining whether she had actually sent the Instagram messages could have been a fast and simple process.
“The unique and singular internet fingerprint known as the ‘IP address’ is easily determined by any professional investigator, and in fact, belonged to a different device” than the device Nia used, the lawsuit said.
Similarly, Instagram had the tools to investigate the account’s origins “at the press of a button,” but did not cooperate in a timely fashion, the lawsuit added.
The lawsuit alleged that the conduct of the school, police department, and Instagram caused “this innocent 13-year-old girl to be taken from home by the police, in front of her helpless family, and placed in a juvenile detention facility for eleven 11 days.”
The lawsuit added that the experience was “the direct and proximate cause of severe mental distress, pain and anguish which is severe and ongoing and has manifested itself in the daily life of this now young woman.”
“I felt really lost about the situation,” Nia told ABC News in a February 15 interview.
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