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Prosecutor Will Not Charge Phillipsburg Wrestlers for Photo

The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office will not press charges against any of the Phillipsburg High School wrestlers in a controversial photo.

Outside of Phillipsburg High School
Outside of Phillipsburg High School (CBS New York)

In a statement from Prosecutor Richard Burke, investigators from the Prosecutor’s Office, Phillipsburg Police and the Attorney General’s office concluded that the evidence obtained did not merit any criminal charges being filed at this time.

Phillipsburg High School may now take any administrative action, if any, they deem appropriate according to the statement.

In the photo the wrestlers are apparently simulating a lynching of a brown-colored wrestling dummy in rival Paulsboro’s shirt taken after the Phillipsburg team defeated Paulsboro in a wrestling tournament.

The attorney retained by the wrestlers told the Express-Times in March they will not be giving any statements to investigators. “No person should ever speak when they’re a suspect in an investigation,” Scott Wilhelm told the newspaper. He believed the attorney general’s office is looking for evidence of a bias crime.”

The photo went viral in February and immediately was debated as to whether or not the students were racist in the photo or celebrating a victory. WIlhelm explained at a press conference that the seven athletes didn’t think what they were doing could be seen as insensitive and they were sorry for offending anyone. “In outfitting the wrestling dummy, we did not give any thought to the physical appearance of the dummy as anything other than an unidentified generic wrestler,” Wilhelm said, noting that the practice dummy is only manufactured using a dark leather.

Read the Prosecutor's Ruling

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