ACLU director "baffled" by law enforcement's response to Rogers tweeting scandal

Categories: Law
sagehornscreengrab.jpg
Sagehorn, a three-sport athlete and honors student, has reportedly transferred schools instead of serving out his more than two month suspension.
Last week, Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen said suspended Rogers High School senior Reid Sagehorn could potentially face a felony charge for his now-infamous two-word tweet about making out with a young gym teacher.

Hennepin County authorities announced Friday that Sagehorn won't be charged with any crimes in connection with the incident, but according to Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota ACLU, such an announcement shouldn't have been necessary in the first place, as there is no felony charge for doing something along the lines of what Sagehorn did.

"Criminal defamation is a gross misdemeanor, so I have no idea what [Chief Beahen] was talking about," Samuelson said. "The only thing they could've possibly charged him with is criminal defamation, and we believe that's an unconstitutional ordinance."

But Sagehorn -- or, more accurately, his parents, since he's only 17 -- could face a defamation lawsuit.

"He can be sued civilly by the teacher, and there may be other people that the teacher could sue," Samuelson said. "If she won she'd get money damages because [Sagehorn] uttered a knowingly false statement that you could argue caused injury to her reputation."

While Samuelson and his ACLU colleagues were "baffled" by Chief Beahen's comments regarding the possibly felony charge, he acknowledged opinions in his office are split with regard to how the school handled the situation.

"Some of us think the school should've dismissed this allegation because of where it came from [that is, a sarcastic social media post] and not ruled it as credible, and others say that anytime something like this happens [the school] has to report it because if it's true, it would've been criminal sexual conduct and they're mandatory reporters," he said.

"The trouble is, frankly, it's hard to do sarcasm on Twitter," Samuelson continued.

Along those lines, Samuelson said Sagehorn's story, if nothing else, clearly illustrates the dangers of reckless social media behavior.

(For more, click to page two.)


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10 comments
ron.fresquez
ron.fresquez topcommenter

What do they say about hindsight?

PowderBurns
PowderBurns

It’s all a conspiracy for that unnamed high school to get a better athlete.

Aleta Hill-Olson
Aleta Hill-Olson

The ACLU had lost my support ... For their spokesperson to say "... If your aunt had balls..." He is not representative of my values. The teacher has had her reputation damaged by this stupid kid and no fault on her part. The ACLU should be standing up for the teacher.

alsdkfj
alsdkfj

Truly the twin cities do not care for personal liberties. 

Kim Banyard
Kim Banyard

Why isn't the kid who posted the rumor in the first place in trouble instead?

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

I understand they needed to establish that the teacher wasn't kissing students and they did that so that should have been the end of the investigation by school staff and police right there. Maybe the teacher has a civil case (I doubt it though) but if you can't take gossip and rumors about yourself a school is the last place you want to work.

senatortombstone
senatortombstone

Looks like Rogers HS officials and police were just trying grandstand.

Adam Wogen
Adam Wogen

They really need to get cracking on that sarcastic font.

Stephanie Lauseng
Stephanie Lauseng

"But if your aunt had balls she'd be your uncle. There's a lot of 'ifs." Bahaha! Good point.

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