Nineteen-year-old Red Mountain High School student Hunter Osborn was arrested and taken to jail in Mesa, Arizona. He is charged with 69 counts of indecent exposure, as well as one charge of furnishing harmful materials to minors, which is a felony.
Is Osborn a serial sexual predator, or deviant? Not exactly. The sum total of his criminal activities is this: he exposed himself, very briefly—and almost imperceptibly—in a football team photo for the high school yearbook.
He did so on a dare, according to ABC15. Just before the photo was taken, Osborn pulled his pants down, ever-so-slightly exposing his privates. Photos of the photo are now blurring at Osborn's midsection, but people who saw it claimed the crime was barely noticeable. School staff didn't even notice until after the yearbook had been distributed to 250 people. But a parent took notice, informed the school, and then the police were called.
The high number of charges stems from the high number of inadvertent witnesses—there were 70 people involved in the photo.
I can understand the school taking strong disciplinary measures against Osborn: he was 18 at the time the photo was taken, which is old enough to know that such a prank was a really dumb idea. And the school has to recall and reissue the yearbook, which is not an insignificant inconvenience. If Red Mountain High wants to make an example of him, so be it. He should be in detention—scrubbing floors and clapping erasers—for a few weeks.
Where Osborn doesn't belong is jail. He behaved inappropriately, broke district policy, and inconvenienced the school. He didn't commit a sex crime. He didn't expose himself to each of his 70 teammates. He didn't compromise the innocence of any minors.
Here's the thing with teenagers: they sometimes make mistakes. They should be held accountable for those mistakes in a manner befitting their gravity, so that they can learn from them and become well-adjusted adults. Sending teens to jail for non-violent infractions of school rules is inhumane. It's bad for the kids, and it doesn't make the school any safer or better off.
This mistake should haunt Osborn for the rest of the school year. The fact that it might very well haunt him the rest of his life is an indictment, not of his actions, but of the cruelty of teen sex laws.