Minnesota high school student won't face charges in Twitter controversy
Reid Sagehorn, the Rogers (Minn.) High School student whose alleged Twitter boast of having had a relationship with a 28-year-old teacher brought him a controversial two-month suspension, will not be charged criminally, the Hennepin County attorney's office said Friday.
The attorney's office said there was insufficient evidence to merit charges of criminal defamation.
"That's what we've said from the beginning," said Ron Rosenbaum, one of two attorneys representing Sagehorn, 17, and his family. "This never belonged in the criminal realm."
The controversy in the Elk River school district involves a now-defunct Web page on which people could make anonymous posts, and a tweet by Sagehorn that said, "actually, yes," which friends say was a sarcastic response to postings about a supposed relationship that didn't happen.
The dispute over the tweet and the severity of Sagehorn's punishment have created a furor among parents and students. Superintendent Mark Bezek said school officials are "pursuing to craft a different outcome, but one that will still make an impact."
Bezek said Friday, before the county attorney's announcement, that no new conclusions were expected to be reached before Monday night's school board meeting in Elk River. He later said that the county attorney's decision would have no effect on the suspension or possible changes to it.
"That's a separate piece from us," he said of the criminal justice system. "But it's interesting to hear."
Bezek said that he and other officials will continue to meet with "all parties concerned." That included two students who he said admitted to creating the now-deleted Web page.
Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen said Friday that his department began investigating the case Jan. 19 and sent its report to the county attorney's office. He had said earlier in the week that people could face charges up to a felony, although he later said he had erred on that point.
Rosenbaum, who represents Sagehorn with attorney Joe Friedberg, had taken particular exception to talk of a felony.
On Friday, he said: "Obviously, the family is pleased with the county attorney's finding. But how do Reid and his family overcome the hurt to his reputation?"
Sagehorn is a captain of the school's football and basketball teams. His original five-day suspension was amended to 10 days and then about two months.