Charges dropped against Kiera Wilmot.

Earlier this month I wrote a letter to a high school in Florida where a young student (who had a good academic record and sterling behavioral record) attempted a science experiment on her own, had it go wrong, and was expelled and criminally charged for it.  Those charges have now been dropped.

The Florida teenager who was arrested two weeks ago for causing a small explosion on the campus of her high school will not be charged with a crime. Kiera Wilmot, 16, was arrested by police in Bartow, Florida, after conducting an unauthorized science experiment which lightly damaged an eight ounce plastic water bottle.

At the time, Wilmot faced possible charges for “possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school sponsored event or on school property.” If she had been convicted, she could have faced up to five years in prison.

Wilmot’s arrest became a national story, as members of the press and the scientific community insisted that Wilmot was the victim of a massive overreaction from law enforcement. A crowdfunded legal defense fund netted over $8,000 to cover Wilmot’s potential legal fees, and a Change.org petition to get the charges dropped received nearly 200,000 signatures.

Kiera is back, but attending another school.  I’m just glad she didn’t have her future ruined over poor judgment when indulging her curiosity.  Kids make mistakes.  But Keria’s was academic, not malicious.  You’d think we’d reward something like that, but I guess we’ll settle for her still having a bright future.

Thanks to everybody who wrote in!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

    How things change in just 20 years, compared to the Radioactive Boy Scout http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hahn

    Or, y’know, possibly because Wilmot was black. Grrr.

  • onamission5

    I am so glad to hear this. Not glad she had to change schools and leave her friends behind, not glad that the school district is considering further action on top of her 10 day suspension and having her arrested, but glad that the criminal charges were dropped nonetheless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rogier-van-Vugt/100001091041826 Rogier van Vugt

    I’m also very glad to hear this. And I actually don’t even think the experiment was bad enough to be called a mistake.
    “which lightly damaged an eight ounce plastic water bottle”? Really, the plastic bottle was only lightly damaged? So dropping the bottle would have been more dangerous?


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