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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Jalen Kitna dismissed from Florida football team after facing child pornography charges

The 19-year-old is no longer listed on Gators’ roster

<p>Florida quarterback Jalen Kitna runs the ball against the Florida State Seminoles Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Kitna is indefinitely suspended from the Gators football team after being arrested on child pornography charges.</p>

Florida quarterback Jalen Kitna runs the ball against the Florida State Seminoles Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Kitna is indefinitely suspended from the Gators football team after being arrested on child pornography charges.

New details emerged regarding the Wednesday arrest of Jalen Kitna, former backup quarterback of the Florida Gators, who allegedly downloaded and shared child pornography.

Kitna was removed from the football team’s roster Friday, indicating his dismissal from the program.

Just months before his first season playing as a redshirt freshman, Kitna allegedly joined and exchanged child pornography through online social media, according to his arrest report.

He appeared in court Thursday wearing a green suicide prevention gown after being put into custody the day prior.

Darry Lloyd, state attorney spokesperson, said Kitna could face a minimum of five years per sentence — though details of the case can make sentencing vary widely — he added.

“We’re looking at the evidence as it’s presented to us by Gainesville police,” Lloyd said.

Law enforcement began investigating him after his account was reported in June for sending child pornography over the online instant messaging service Discord, according to his arrest report.

After he was reported, Discord tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The tip included one image depicting child pornography, Kitna’s email address, IP address and phone number linked to his account.

Gainesville Police Department took up the case July 8, several months before his arrest Wednesday. The investigation took months because GPD only has one Internet Crimes Against Children detective; they saw 205 cases this year, GPD spokesperson David Chudzik said.

Images shared in connection with Kitna’s account showed pubescent girls exposing themselves, captioned with “teen age p-–y so young junior.” 

The Gainesville Police Department couldn’t confirm the ages of the children in the photos, Chudzik said.

Kitna sent two pornographic images to another Discord user, whose name is redacted in the arrest report. In an excerpt of his conversation with the user, Kitna’s suspected account was asked if the girls in the photos were under 18.

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In a conversation between Kitna and another Discord user, two pornographic images were sent.

The 19-year-old was arrested at 9:55 a.m. at his apartment Wednesday by GPD, according to the arrest report.

Kitna told investigators he recalled having the investigated Discord conversation and believed the photos he sent were legal, the arrest report shows. He only realized those images shouldn’t have been shared based on the other Discord user’s reaction. 

He received an email following the conversation that his Discord account was deactivated due to violation of terms of service, according to the arrest report.

There, Kitna admitted to struggling with an addiction to child sexual abuse material, incest and other pornography, according to the affidavit.

He previously joined groups on the private messaging app Kik that discussed and distributed child sexual abuse material along with his current use of Discord, he said, though he “tries to shy away from it,” according to the report.

When his phone was searched, officers recovered three images of child pornography.

Kitna currently is charged with three charges of possession of sexual photos of a child and two charges of promotion of sexual media of a child. He is held at Alachua County Jail, with a bond set at $80,000.

Ron Kozlowski —- one of the city attorneys representing Kitna —- declined to speak in regard to the case but said he and Kitna’s family are prioritizing the 19-year-olds well-being.

“Our concern at the moment is Jalen and making sure he gets the support he needs,” Kozlowski said.

Between the initial Discord conversation and Kitna’s arrest, he appeared in four of Florida’s games — Eastern Washington, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida State. 

Kitna was offered his scholarship Jan. 9, 2020. His recruitment was handled by the Gators’ previous coaching staff led by former head coach Dan Mullen. Kitna also fielded offers from Colorado, Tennessee, Arizona, Boston College, Oregon State, Cornell and Yale. 

On May 26, 2020, Kitna announced his commitment to UF. He signed his letter of intent Dec. 16, 2020 and enrolled a few weeks later on Jan. 8, 2021. 

Kitna never saw the field during his freshman year on the football team and was granted a redshirt — signifying the season didn’t count toward his overall eligibility. Now a redshirt freshman, Kitna saw increased playing time when called upon in relief of the Gators’ starting quarterback Anthony Richardson. 

During Florida’s game against Eastern Washington, Kitna completed eight passes for 152 yards and a touchdown.  

He’s the son of Jon Kitna, who played quarterback in the National Football League for more than a decade.

The state is required to be ready for trial by May 24, 2023, but the actual trial could be further out. As of Thursday afternoon, Kitna’s next hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Contact Aidan Bush at Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Engagement Managing Editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and go kayaking.

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