A week after he was arrested for running naked across the Sparkman High School football field during a September 27 game in a streaking gag, and just one day after school officials threatened criminal charges against him that could have resulted in an adult prosecution and conviction requiring lifelong registration as a sex offender, 15-year-old Christian Adamek from Huntsville, Alabama, hanged himself. He died from his injuries two days later.
Christian reportedly was expelled from school over the incident, but school officials were pressing for a hearing in the Madison County court system to determine if formal criminal charges would be filed.
“There’s the legal complications,” Sparkman High principal Michael Campbell told the news station WHNT on Tuesday, October 1. Streaking was not just a harmless prank, he said. “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.” Christian hanged himself the next day.
A fifteen-year-old can be prosecuted as an adult for any offense in Alabama, which has some of the harshest and most extreme sex offense laws in the country, including lifelong registration on the sex offender registry and the imposition of registration and residency restrictions on people convicted of offenses involving nudity or sexual behavior not directed at particular victims.
If convicted in adult court of a sex offense, Christian – despite the fact he was just 15 years old – would have been required to register as a sex offender on Alabama’s sex offender registry for the rest of his life.
At a memorial service last week, Christian was remembered as a bright, energetic, exuberant student. His Boy Scout Troop master, David Silvernail, said he will never forget the fun-loving leader who always had a smile on his face, always had a joke to tell, and had no trouble making friends; his siblings said their brother was a playful, extremely talented, kind, quirky teenager who constantly asked questions and loved cookie dough.
Approximately 250,000 youth under age 18 are prosecuted, sentenced, and incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system each year and nearly 100,000 youth are placed in adult jails and prisons annually in America.
EJI is working to end the incarceration of children in adult jails and prisons and to stop the practice of prosecuting underage children as adults, and is challenging the application of Alabama’s adult sex offender residency, registration, and notification requirements against juvenile offenders.