Student Hit With 70 Criminal Charges After Exposing Himself During Yearbook Photo Shoot

from the another-school-outsources-its-disciplinary-processes dept

When will schools tire of involving law enforcement in routine disciplinary matters? Not soon enough, apparently.

Hunter Osborn, a senior at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, AZ, did a “teen” thing. Prompted by other teens who enjoy a good bit of teen lowbrow comedy, Osborn slipped the tip of his penis over his waistband during the football team’s photo shoot. Osborn and his crotch-level co-star went unnoticed as yearbooks and game programs containing his exposed penis were published and handed out.

The school, of course, was furious. Instead of handling its own problems, it decided to turn it over to law enforcement — for reasons only completely understood by school administrators who believe “school discipline” is pronounced “police matter.” Perhaps this overreaction was fueled by the school’s own editorial lapse, as it only noticed the exposed penis in the photograph after Osborn bragged about it on “social media.”

Insanity ensued.

[Osborn] faces 69 counts of indecent exposure, based on the students and staff who were present when the photograph was taken, and one count of furnishing harmful items to minors, according to Mesa Police Department spokesman Steve Berry. He said the investigation is ongoing.

One penis. (And not even a whole one.) 70 criminal charges. And that includes a felony that rubs elbows with producing and distributing child pornography. Never mind the fact that his “victims” (the 69 misdemeanor counts cover the teammates and staff involved in the photo shoot) included the same teammates who dared him to expose himself. And who also “exposed” themselves to him on repeated occasions with no complaints, as one particularly astute AZ Central reader pointed out.

As reader Jim McManus wrote, “This young man is being charged for exposing himself to his teammates during the picture taking, which no one noticed at the time. Approximately 15 minutes later he and all the people he ‘abused’ went back to the locker room and all took off their (clothes) exposing themselves to each other.”

Yes, there’s a difference between expected penis exposure and surprise penis exposure, but the bottom line here is that many of Osborn’s “victims” had seen his penis repeatedly. No one expects a penis in a group photo, but hey, peer pressure and stupidity can all be found in large quantities on the average high school campus. That the photo was published unaltered is unfortunate, but there’s absolutely no reason law enforcement should have been brought in. And if law enforcement was summoned, officers should have told administrators to handle their own problems, rather than amuse themselves by tallying up 69 + 1 criminal charges.

Fortunately, after allowing insanity to have the run of the yard for a few days, rational thought was allowed to cautiously make its way back onto the propety. First, prosecutors dropped the ridiculous “furnishing harmful items to minors” felony charge.

In announcing that his office would not prosecute the felony charge against Hunter Osborn, Montgomery issued a statement reading: “An assessment of the available evidence for the felony charge of Furnishing Harmful Items to Minors, ARS 13-3506.A., leads us to conclude that the evidence does not establish a violation of the statute. MCAO has furthered review of remaining misdemeanor charges submitted by the Mesa Police Department for possible submittal to the Mesa City Prosecutor’s Office.”

Shortly thereafter, prosecutors decided the 69 misdemeanor counts weren’t worth pursuing either.

A Mesa police spokesman said Wednesday that the case against Hunter Osborn, 19, was returned to police for further investigation but that the case would be closed.

A good thing, too. A strict reading of the state’s statute behind the single felony charge suggests Osborn could not have possibly violated it. Indecent exposure, maybe. But not furnishing harmful material to minors.

It is unlawful for any person, with knowledge of the character of the item involved, to recklessly furnish, present, provide, make available, give, lend, show, advertise or distribute to minors any item that is harmful to minors.

The only entities who performed any of the actions were the school and its photographer — and neither of those did so knowingly.

Even though this ended relatively well, the sad fact is that if it had been handled with any sort of common sense, we never would have heard about it at all.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Student Hit With 70 Criminal Charges After Exposing Himself During Yearbook Photo Shoot”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: Re: I haven't closely read the law but...

Yep, which is the most likely reason that the charges got dropped. i’m quite sure any halfway decent defense attorney would have pointed out that the student was at best only guilty of the indecent exposure, it was the photographer who was guilty of manufacturing the image, the yearbook company of publishing it, and the school of distributing it–plus adding in the crime of exploitation of a minor. So, of course they are dropping it–we wouldn’t want to ruin the lives and careers of a bunch of adults now would we? We only like to do that to the kids.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m guessing this is just another prosecutor trying to make a name for himself or herself by “winning” another case. They’ll probably drop all but one of the charges if he pleads guilty and won’t get any prison time. But hey, it will still be considered a “win” for the prosecutor, and that’s all that matters, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

If photographing any part of a minor’s genitals is considered child pornography, wouldn’t the photographer be guilty of producing child pornography? And would the school not be guilty of distribution of child pornography for republishing the picture on multiple occasions?

If I was the boy’s parent, I’d certainly be considering using those charges as a club to pound some sanity into school officials.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Legally speaking, Arizona schools are subject to mandatory reporting requirements – Teachers and administrators are legally required to report possible instances of abuse to law enforcement, and this would – for better or for worse, fall squarely into that category.

The school didn’t have a good option available. They did the “right” thing by complying with their mandatory reporting requirements.

What happened from there is on the local police department.

drewdad (profile) says:

Shouldn't the photographer be prosecuted?

After all, he or she took a picture of a (presumably) underage boy’s penis and then distributed it.

Whomever is in charge of printing and handing out the programs and fliers should be prosecuted for distributing child pornography.


Meanwhile, the “victims” of this “crime” never reported the incident, or possibly even noticed. This is like saying “we’re all naked under our clothes” and then prosecuting us all for indecent exposure….

Crap. I probably just gave the authorities a new idea on how to conduct warrantless searches.

JBDragon (profile) says:

I remember back in High School, so long ago, We had a graduating class photo taken. So it was a pretty large group of people, and the Jocks were in the middle kind of back, but 6 or so of them decided to do the whole finger thing. Of course that was blocked out with a small white circle on each of their hands. I don’t even remember what the end result of that was.

There’s always 1 or more of them in a group ready to do something I guess.

Ninja (profile) says:

Even though this ended relatively well, the sad fact is that if it had been handled with any sort of common sense, we never would have heard about it at all.

No such a thing in our systems sir. But we’ve heard you produced a calendar with nudes of yourself a while back from our super effective surveillance dragnet that solves all crimes and terrorisms. Hee hee. – law enforcement creep

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...