The Los Angeles Police have launched an internal inquiry to find out who leaked a photograph purportedly of battered pop star Rihanna, which was posted online.
The image showed the 21-year-old with deep bruises on either side of her forehead, blackened areas around her eyes and what appeared to be blood at the corners of her mouth. It was posted on gossip website TMZ.com Thursday.
Rihanna was allegedly attacked by her boyfriend Chris Brown, 19, shortly before the two were to perform at the Grammy Awards earlier this month.
Neither Brown nor Rihanna has been seen in public since then. But, on her birthday Friday, Rihanna issued a statement thanking her fans.
"At the request of the authorities, Rihanna is not commenting about the incident involving Chris Brown. She wants to assure her fans that she remains strong, is doing well and deeply appreciates the outpouring of support she has received during this difficult time," the statement said, according to people.com.
The Los Angeles police department said it was investigating the "unauthorized release of a domestic violence photograph".
"The department takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence. A violation of this type is considered serious misconduct, with penalties up to and including termination," a police statement said Friday.
The photograph matched descriptions of Rihanna's injuries provided by police shortly after the incident, but police would not confirm or deny the authenticity of the picture.
TMZ did not say how the photograph came into its possession.
It was released several days after Brown apologized without confirming any of the specific allegations.
Brown was arrested the day after the incident and charged with making criminal threats. He is free on bail and was expected in court March 5.