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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Charges dropped for naked athletes

Prosecutor is moving to dismiss charges against WWU athletes accused of naked January run

An abstract depiction of the three runners as they appeared in court on Tuesday, March 3. // Illustration by Madison Gonzalez Boesch

By Nate Sanford

The state is moving to dismiss charges against four runners from Western’s track team, who were charged with public indecency for running naked on campus in January. 

Three of the four runners appeared in court on March 3 accompanied by public defenders. The fourth runner hired private legal counsel, and will appear in court later this month. The fourth runner’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. 

The prosecutor did not elaborate on why the state was moving to dismiss the charges. 

While addressing the prosecutor, Thomas Fryer, a public defender representing one of the runners, said, “We appreciate the government’s willingness to put some thought into this and realize that perhaps proceeding forward wasn’t in the best interest of anybody.”

The runners were silent as they stood before the judge. 

Zachary Robertson, a clothing-optional activist who has spoken with the runners, said the runners wrote letters of apology to the school.

The runners were placed under arrest and charged with public indecency on Jan. 19, after a witness told police she saw them running naked near the Wade King Student Recreation Center. When questioned by police, the runners were apologetic, and said they ran naked as part of a dare. 

After their arrest, the runners were suspended from the track team, pending the results of their student conduct cases, said Paul Cocke, Western’s director of communications. Their student conduct case is seperate from the indecent exposure charges the runners faced in court.

In an email, Cocke said Western is unable to comment on the process or outcome of student conduct cases, and that the runners’ status on the track team is decided by their coach. 

Head coach Pee Wee Halsell was unable to be reached for comment.

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