Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc. (RSOL) adds its voice to Women Against Registry in protest against the Madison County Alabama School System’s policy that contributed to the suicide of fifteen-year-old Christian Adamek.
On September 27, Christian shed his clothes and streaked onto the football field during a game at his high school in Huntsville, Alabama.
Rather than react with reasonable and appropriate measures–a couple of days suspension, maybe some in-school suspension when he returned, some lectures from the principal, and possibly a session or two with the school counselor–the school’s principal chose to go another route and referred the child to the court system.
Apparently feeling proud of his action, Principal Michael Campbell stated on local television, “There’s the legal complications. Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.”
RSOL asserts that there were only legal “complications” because Principal Campbell chose there to be. Facts are hard to come by. Christian’s sister indicated he had been expelled for the year, but that has not been verified. What is fact is this: he was arrested; he was facing a hearing to determine what charges would be brought against him. Given what he did and the climate surrounding anything resembling nudity, which for many translates into sex, the fear of a charge of indecent exposure was a reasonable one, and a requirement to register as a sexual criminal on the sex offender registry accompanies that charge.
Why was this decision made? What allowed, apparently, one person, Principal Michael Campbell, to choose to involve law enforcement? Is there no policy in place dictating the management of inappropriate behavior where there is no harm committed to another person?
And if there is, does the Madison County School District’s policy dictate that law enforcement be involved? If not, why did Principal Campbell take this action? And if there is no policy dictating that such situations be handled in-house, RSOL asserts that there should be, and we call for Superintendent David Copeland to lead the school board in the development of such a policy so that no other children in this school system be pushed to the point of suicide by an over-zealous administrator.
We will never know how much of a part this played in Christian’s decision to stop his life swiftly rather than have it end over a course of years by being on the sex offender registry, but stop his life he did; he hanged himself on October 2 and died two days later, exactly one week after he, a fifteen year old boy, ran naked onto a football field.
Christian’s is by no means the first suicide associated with the sex offender registry, and the almost certain horror is that it will not be the last.
There is not room to discuss how we got to this place. The fact is that we are at this place, and we need to understand exactly what it is. It is a place where children as young as nine and ten are placed on the registry for childish curiosity and play. It is a place where a boy still legally a child can be forced into the most serious of consequences for nothing more than a harmless prank.
This is not a place where, as a nation, we need to be.