Hunter Osborn said it was a prank suggested by teammates, and that he’s “disgusted” with himself. Authorities in Mesa, Ariz., are saying that the high school football player’s decision to expose himself in a team photo is much worse than that, and now Osborn is facing dozens of charges.
Because the photo was published in the Red Mountain High yearbook, the 19-year-old, who was 18 at the time, has been charged with a felony count of furnishing harmful items to minors. The photo also appeared in a football program that was sold at games to students and their families.
In addition, according to CBS 5 News, Osborn is facing 69 misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure, one for each of the students present when the photo was taken at the school’s bleachers. Police, who arrested Osborn on Saturday — the day of his senior prom — after being alerted to the photo, indicated that the number of counts could go down if students who are 18 or older decline to press charges.
“He made a dumb mistake a little bit, but I don’t think he should be charged so heavily for that,” a Red Mountain senior told CBS 5. Another student, a sophomore, said, “It’s something that’s going to be on his record for the rest of his life. The consequences are a little harsh.”
A petition at Change.org titled, “Free Hunter Osborn,” currently has over 1,000 supporters. “The teacher responsible for the yearbook should be fired,” the petition states. “Red Mountain High School is using him as a scapegoat instead of taking any responsibility! Hunter needs to be held accountable for his actions but that doesn’t mean ruining his life!”
The Mesa public schools system released this statement:
“The district is dismayed by the actions of the students involved in the photograph.
“Their behavior does not reflect the values of Red Mountain High School or Mesa Public Schools.
“Upon learning of the photograph, school administration immediately contacted police and is cooperating fully with the investigation.
“Disciplinary action will follow policy and may be based on the outcome of the police investigation.
“The school and district are conducting an investigation to determine what actions might have prevented the publication of the photograph, so appropriate safeguards can be put in place going forward.
“While the small size of the photograph as published makes the details difficult to discern, the yearbook has been recalled so the school can make a minor but critical edit for the inappropriate content.”
According to police documents, Osborn, who may have to register as a sex offender, told investigators that he was “disgusted by what he had done.” A Mesa police spokesman said to ABC 12 News, “The charges are in accordance with the laws Osborn violated and if a victim wants to move forward — they can’t arbitrarily choose what someone is charged with.”