Teen Wrestlers In Controversial Photo Speak Through An Attorney - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Teen Wrestlers In Controversial Photo Speak Through An Attorney

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8 Phillipsburg High School wrestlers had a three day out of school suspension this week and they are suspended for the rest of the athletic season. They will not play in the season ending competition this weekend. Thursday night they spoke out through an attorney.

The press conference comes as a result of a photo posted on social media by some members of the Phillipsburg High School wrestling team. It shows them in happier times after celebrating a big win. But during the press conference, facing cameras and sitting next to their attorney, their demeanor was noticeably different. We're no longer blurring their faces in our news story since they're coming forward after the fallout of what some call a racist photo.

"When we spontaneously set the scene and posed for the photograph our sole purpose was to promote school spirit and portray our wrestling team as victor over two of our arch rivals," said attorney Scott Wilhelm.

The seven boys in the photo remained seated and didn't take questions. The 8th student at the table is the teammate who took the picture. Their attorney says being the school's most successful wrestling team in nearly 40 years may have played a factor in their actions.

"Our success may have clouded our thinking on how our actions, however innocently intended, may be perceived as harmful by others," said Wilhelm.

The team also denies taking into consideration the appearance of the practice dummy used in the photo which they say is manufactured in only dark leather. The attorney did not specifically address the noose, pointed hoodie or the paddle also pictured.

"Our dress was standard wrestling uniforms and our poses were not premeditated," he said.

Wilhelm wrapped up by saying the teens have reflected on the issue.

"From this photo we have learned a valuable lesson that is all actions have consequences, "he added," For our actions that have harmed others, we apologize."

The Phillipsburg Police Department is now opening a criminal investigation.

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