Photo: Jalen Kitna; Alex Shepherd
UPDATEFlorida Gators redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Kitna made his first appearance in Alachua County Court on Thursday after his arrest on Wednesday for five preliminary felony charges relating to child pornography, possession and distribution.
Kitna appeared via video stream from the Alachua County Jail. His parents, Jon and Jennifer Kitna, and his pastor were present in court.
According to WUFT-Gainesville, Kitna’s bond was set at $80,000 despite pleas from his lawyer, Caleb Kenyon, to release Kitna without bail, claiming no individuals were directly victimized by Kitna’s alleged actions.
Kitna previously admitted to sharing two images containing child sexual abuse material to the social media website Discord in an interview with Gainesville Police Department Detective Donna Montague. A search warrant of Kitna’s conducted on Wednesday led to the discovery of three additional images of child sexual abuse material in his possession upon preliminary analysis of Kitna’s electronic devices.
Alachua County Court Judge Meshon T. Rawls denied Kenyon’s request and ordered Kitna to not use the internet and have no unsupervised contact with minors.
If convicted of the charges — the State Attorney’s office will determine whether to formally file criminal charges or not in the coming weeks, after his preliminary charges read of three counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of distribution of child exploitation material — Kitna faces up to 45 years in prison and $35,000 in fines.
Kitna was dressed in a dark green, sleeveless gown that indicated he was on suicide watch during his appearance, officials said to WUFT.
UPDATEFlorida Gators redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Kitna was charged on Wednesday with three counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of distribution of child exploitation material, each being second-degree felonies, according to a statement from the Gainesville Police Department.
Per the police statement, a search warrant was served at Kitna’s place of residence in Gainesville on Wednesday morning after receiving a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Further investigation by Gainesville Police Department Detective Donna Montague uncovered two images containing child sexual abuse material shared to the social media website Discord from Kitna’s address. The investigation also revealed that the probable Discord account holder was Kitna.
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Kitna’s electronic devices were seized as part of the search warrant. Three additional images of child sexual abuse material were discovered upon preliminary analysis of those devices.
UF released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon, acknowledging that Kitna has been suspended from the program indefinitely.
We are shocked and saddened to hear of the news involving Jalen Kitna. These are extremely serious charges and the University of Florida and the UAA have zero tolerance for such behavior.
“Jalen has been indefinitely suspended from the football programme.”
Florida Gators redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Kitna was booked into the Alachua County Jail at 3:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 30.
Charges were not immediately made available for Kitna’s arrest.
Kitna, the son of former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, signed with Florida as a member of the 2021 recruiting class. He did not take the field during his true freshman but emerged as the backup to starting signal-caller Anthony Richardson During the 2022 season, in which he appeared in four games and completed 10-of-14 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.
Kitna notably entered at a crucial point in the first half against FSU when Richardson was sidelined for a few plays due to injury.
The backup kept the drive alive in Richardson’s absence — albeit not recording a pass — as he was on the field for two third-down conversions and reeled off a six-yard rush of his own to push the ball into the red zone. That set up a go-ahead touchdown pass upon Richardson’s return to take a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.
The Burleson (Texas) High School product was expected to at least compete for a starting spot this offseason as a result, if Richardson elects to depart from the program for the NFL Draft, alongside redshirt sophomore Jack Miller IIItrue freshman Max Brownincoming freshman quarterback Jaden Rashad and a potential transfer portal as well.
This story will be updated as further details emerge.
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