THE high school student probably thought he was being funny. What he was being was stupid, and now he's in the kind of serious trouble that could follow him the rest of his life.
Tulsa County sheriff's deputies arrested the student last week after he was accused of tweeting a photo of a mentally disabled classmate whose pants and underwear were pulled down as he used a urinal.
Officials at Union High School said several students were upset about the photo, and named 18-year-old Jonathan Devito as the person who sent it. He was hauled off to the Tulsa jail on complaints of peeping Tom with electronic equipment, manufacturing child pornography (the student in the photo was 16), distributing child porn and violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.
How serious are those crimes? Under Oklahoma law, it's a felony to publish child pornography, distribute it or take part in preparing it. If Devito winds up being convicted, he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count, a $10,000 fine, or both. And, he would have to register as a sex offender.
That last penalty is especially damaging because that tag — sex offender — would follow him forever. Good luck trying to get into college, or finding a decent job, or even leasing an apartment. State law puts a ton of restrictions on where sex offenders may live — a certain distance away from parks, schools, playgrounds and child care centers.
It's a safe bet the very last thing Devito was thinking about was the possible consequences of a cruel practical joke. He probably had no idea there could be any consequences. Will he wind up going to prison? Perhaps not. Authorities may decide there is a better way to handle this case than to tar the young man for life.