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Teen Who Sued Schools Faces Marijuana Charge

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Newport Beach teen, who gained notoriety earlier this year after successfully challenging his expulsion from high school over allegations of possession of drug paraphernalia, was charged Tuesday with possession of the drug and alcohol.

Ryan Huntsman, 19, could face more than $500 in fines and must appear in court Jan. 29. Two friends traveling in Huntsman’s car Tuesday also were cited for minor drug and alcohol infractions, but the amount of marijuana found--less than an ounce--was too small to arrest anyone, including Huntsman, said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Mike McDermott.

Huntsman’s lawyer, David Shores, said police are unfairly targeting the teen.

“Ryan Huntsman’s in a goldfish bowl,” he said. “And when you’re in a goldfish bowl, you have to be . . . above reproach.”

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Huntsman, who completed his first semester at Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes and is home for Christmas vacation, said he is embarrassed to be in the spotlight again.

“I’ve lost some respect from some of my family members,” he said.

Shortly after noon Tuesday, Huntsman and two friends parked in a no-stopping zone at Seashore Drive and 46th Street, near his home. A police car came up behind them, and the two officers intended to ticket the driver for a parking violation, McDermott said.

When officers spotted a six-pack of beer in the back seat and realized none of the three were of legal drinking age, they searched them and the car. Police said they found about six grams of marijuana on Micah Daniel Applebee, 18, of Newport Beach. James Nicholas Fahs, 18, of Costa Mesa was charged with alcohol possession by a minor.

Police also seized three marijuana pipes from the car and discovered a plastic bag with four grams of marijuana under the driver’s seat, McDermott said.

Huntsman declined to comment on whether the marijuana or beer belonged to him.

In September, he filed a $10-million civil rights lawsuit against the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Newport Beach and its police department, stemming from his expulsion from Corona del Mar High School. The suit is pending.

He made headlines in February when police stopped him for playing music too loudly on his car stereo. A search of the car yielded a drug pipe, and, according to the police report, the vehicle smelled of marijuana.

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Huntsman was not cited for any drug offense but was ticketed for noise pollution. Police faxed their report to Corona del Mar High School administrators.

Newport-Mesa district officials decided the information in the report was enough to expel him 89 days before graduation. He fought the disciplinary transfer to Newport Harbor High School in a highly publicized court battle and won, returning to school and receiving his diploma in June from Corona del Mar.

A court of appeals rejected the board’s expulsion of Huntsman under the district’s zero-tolerance policy against drugs and alcohol.


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