A 15-year-old Alabama resident recently committed suicide after learning that a prank he performed could have resulted in him being expelled from school and put him on a sex offender registry.
In late September, Christian Adamek sprinted naked across a field during a football game. At least some of his classmates enjoyed his streaking stunt. The Huntsville Times reports that students took to Twitter, declaring Adamek a “legend.” One wrote, “Sparkman’s new slogan is gonna be ‘Welcome to Sparkman High School, Home of Christian Adamek.”
Sparkman High School's principal, Michael Campbell, was not so amused:
“There’s the legal complications,” the school’s principal, Michael Campbell told WHNT-TV — who recently took their report off of their website — a day before the teen committed suicide.
“Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.”
“These are pretty serious consequences,” Campbell said. “I don’t think they realize all the consequences that we talk about.”
Although school officials said they could not speak openly about how they intended to punish Adamek, the boy's sister apparently stated on Twitter that the school intended to expel him.
Far more seriously, “Sparkman High administrators even recommended that Adamek face a hearing in the Madison County court system to determine if formal charges would be filed,” according to The Daily Mail, which suggests that he may have faced criminal charges for indecent exposure.
Adamek died on Oct. 4, two days after hanging himself.
According to a law firm in Alabama, “indecent exposure is defined as intentionally exposing one's genitals in a manner which is likely to be offensive or alarming to a member or members of the public.”
Broad and harsh sex offender laws are often justified as a means of preventing recidivism, athough they are not successful at doing so, especially among young people. These laws also have a track record of doing more harm than good, especially in situations with young people. Reason's Jacob Sullum has previously explained that registration “routinely ruins relationships, triggers ostracism and harassment, and impedes education.” Even as a juvenile sex offender, Adamek could have potentially faced a lifetime of burdens because of his prank, that would have not only put him on a law enforcement registry, but also placed limitations on his employment and residency options.