Teens in trouble for vandalizing Orangefield Junior High
Four local teens face criminal mischief charges for vandalizing the Orangefield Junior High School last week, an act district officials estimate will cost them thousands of dollars in repairs, the Orange County Sheriff's Office reports.
According to a news release from OCSO, the office received a call from a school official reporting the vandalism at about 7:35 a.m. on Friday, June 20. Once deputies arrived at the school, the custodial staff at the school reported they found different areas within the school that had been ransacked and damaged. During the investigation, deputies located open paint cans with the contents dumped on the floors and spread onto some lockers in the main hall. Several of the class rooms had paint, glue, and hand sanitizer spread across chairs and on the floors. A trophy was found broken in a locker room and food products were spread in areas throughout the school. Garbage cans were turned over and trash was spread across the floors. There were a few classroom white boards that had explicative and derogatory language written on them, with some containing vulgar drawings, deputies report. A school official initially estimated roughly anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 worth of damage to the school building in total.
Deputies gathered evidence from the scene, and after following up on some of the information, were able to track down four white male juveniles who confessed to the crime. Two of the juveniles, a 15-year -old and 13-year-old, were enrolled as students in the Orangefield School District and live near the school. The other two juveniles, a 14-year-old and 13-year-old, reside in Beaumont but were staying with a relative in the Orangefield area at the time. The Orangefield School District is pursing charges, and the investigation is ongoing.
OCSO Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkinson said the teens confessed but had no real motive for their actions, except possibly boredom. He said the degree of criminal mischief with which the juveniles are charged is pecuniary, meaning it based on the monetary amount of damage done to the school. Based on the initial estimate, the teens face state jail felony charges. However, he said he believes the initial estimate may be on the high side since most of the damage was cosmetic.
"A lot of it was just cleanup," Hodgkinson asserted. "It could end up being a misdemeanor charge."
Now that the deed is done, the juveniles aren't the only ones facing consequences. According to Hodgkinson, the teens' parents or guardians could be on the hook for costs associated with the youths' transgressions.
"The parents or guardians could end up paying a bunch of fines and fees, like probationary fees," Hodgkinson said. "And they could be held civilly liable," meaning the school could ultimately sue the guardians for the amount of damages caused by their charges.