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."
[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.