Minnesota teen at center of Twitter controversy changes schools, says he's sorry
Reid Sagehorn, whose apparently sarcastic two-word tweet and resulting seven-week suspension created a furor in the Elk River (Minn.) School District, planned to return to school Monday. But not at Rogers High School.
Speaking publicly about the incident for the first time, the 17-year-old football and basketball captain said he has apologized in writing to the 28-year-old teacher about whom he tweeted "actually, yes" when a post on an ask.fm page asked if he'd ever "made out" with her.
Sagehorn, a National Honor Society member with a 3.8 grade-point average, spoke of anxiety attacks after his suspension began, the added fears of hearing the Rogers police chief say he might be charged with a felony and the lessons he has learned.
"I think it's definitely important that everybody who has heard about the story know how sincerely sorry I am," he said Saturday with his parents at his side in the office of one of his three Minneapolis attorneys.
"No matter how I meant it, [it] doesn't matter," he said of his tweet that appeared on the now-defunct "Rogers Confessions" page on ask.fm. "Sarcasm doesn't belong on the Internet. One bad interpretation ..."
Sagehorn's family and attorneys -- Joe Friedberg, Ron Rosenbaum and civil rights-expert Robert Bennett -- would not disclose which school the senior will begin attending this week. Sagehorn, who plans to attend North Dakota State University in the fall, said he is anxious to return to class.
The story that has gone viral began in mid-January with a "sarcastic" tweet that Sagehorn says "there was nothing behind ... I thought everybody would take it as a joke."
He said he had no idea why he was called to the school office, where the principal, athletic director and police liaison officer were waiting for him. A parent had called the office, he said he was told, upset about a possibly inappropriate relationship between Sagehorn and a teacher.
Asked how he felt leaving the principal's office, he said, "Not really scared. Shocked!"
Other than a parking ticket, he said, he'd never been in trouble.
He also said he planned to apologize to the teacher the next day, but he and a younger sister, who had a class with the teacher, could not find her. Then he was suspended. He said he sent her a written apology last week.
"I never meant to hurt anybody," he said.
Last week, it was Sagehorn who was stung when Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen said he could be charged with a felony for defamation. Beahen later admitted that the most Sagehorn could be charged with was a gross misdemeanor. But the Hennepin County attorney's office said that after reviewing the police report, Sagehorn had committed no crime.
"Reid is sorry and learned his lesson, but it's gone viral," Rosenbaum said. "To compare him to a terrorist? Google Reid's name and you see the word 'felony.' "
Friedberg, who is expected to represent the family Monday night in Elk River at a school board meeting, said Beahen and Superintendent Mark Bezek should resign.
"In my opinion, the police chief must be an imbecile and the superintendent is not far behind."
Beahen said he regrets suggesting that a felony may have been committed.
"I admitted I erred," he said.
Bezek, who said he is still "looking at some kind of resolution," responded to Friedberg's comment by saying, "That kind of talk is disheartening.
"I guess it's really between the attorneys right now."
Sagehorn's attorneys declined to discuss legal avenues the family might explore.