Caught Red-Handed: Actress Vanessa Hudgens Defaces Natural Park . . . But Then Required To Pay Only $1000 To A Charity

vanessa-hudgens-vandalism170px-Vanessa_Hudgens_PCA_2012We have previously discussed the increasing appearance of graffiti in our national and state parks. As is well known on this blog, hiking is my passion and there is nothing more crushing than to see juvenile carvings and writings on trees and rocks in parks. Most recently, the Frame Arch was defaced by graffiti. I have written that the scourge of graffiti is due to the low detection rate and even lower penalties for those committing these crimes. The most recent case demonstrates vividly how the government still treats the crime as a minor matter. In a rare case of self-incrimination, Actress Vanessa Hudgens posted a picture of her carving of a heart into a red rock wall during a trip to Sedona, Arizona on federal park land. However, when nabbed by the federal government, they allowed her to walk with just $1000 donated to a charity.

Hudgens proudly posted her juvenile act a carving bearing the names “Vanessa” and “Austin” on her Instagram page around Valentine’s Day. Viewers reported it to the government and confronted Hudgens who told them where she defaced the rock.

This happens to be one of my favorite areas (and that of many hikers) in northern Arizona where the red rocks are spellbinding . . . until you run into the work of some dysfunctional moron like Hudgens.

With a unique opportunity to convey the costs of such destruction, the government could only issue a citation for a misdemeanor count of damaging a natural feature on U.S. Forest Service land. The trivial amount of money will go to a volunteer group called Friends of the Forest to restore the rock wall. Hudgens will walk away and continue to be the celebrity spokesperson for Neutrogena, which does not appear bothered by the actions of their star. In the meantime, all of Hudgens’ teenage groupies have learned a critical message: that, even when caught literally red handed, the penalty for destroying natural sites is a mere pittance.

A federal magistrate in Flagstaff approved this joke of a penalty on April 19th and Hudgens has remained silent after her representative cut a check for a grand.

Yet, damaging a natural feature is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. So a celebrity defaces a park and self-incriminates herself with a self-obsessed posting. The government could have made a statement by insisting on a short jail stint. I have long argued that we need to increase those penalties to the level of a serious felony — as would we destroying or defacing a great piece of art in a museum. There is a long-standing theory that deterrence is a balance of the size of the penalty and the rate of detection. As detection rates fell, penalties are increased to maintain the level of deterrence. Since these are often remote areas, detection is very low. We also need to create units that can target areas of graffiti with special cameras and surveillance to catch and then guarantee prosecution of such individuals. This should include a campaign to enlist hikers to take pictures of people defacing natural areas and sending those pictures to rangers. The Park Service needs to place advertisements on these efforts in leading hiking magazines.

The irony is that the laughable penalty for Hudgens has achieved the very opposite result: confirming that this crime is not only rarely detected but lightly punished. It is the perfect combination to ensure more criminal conduct by juveniles like Hudgens who see a beautiful natural setting and want to carve their names into it.

16 thoughts on “Caught Red-Handed: Actress Vanessa Hudgens Defaces Natural Park . . . But Then Required To Pay Only $1000 To A Charity

  1. An email to Neutrogena may have an impact. Add in the 100 year celebration of the National Parks, and her stupidity is shameful.

  2. Given her celebrity, which, obviously allowed her skate on this charge, why not be creative in sentencing, making full use of that same celebrity status to demand that she film various public service commercials touting the importance of preserving nature? That, in my opinion, should’ve been a condition of her receiving such a lenient sentence. Her unique celebrity status, which paved the way for her specialized treatment, should’ve been utilized in the form of requiring her participation in public announcements urging the care and protection of priceless items found in nature. A valuable opportunity was missed.

  3. They should make her sand the carving away. People should expect to have to clean up their own messes.
    And of course post a picture of her doing the clean-up.

  4. Austin and Vanessa sittin n a tree!
    S u c k i n g!
    First came love.
    Then came marriage.
    Then came Austin with a baby carriage!

  5. Olly- Aren’t you one of those braying the loudest about the dangers of Sharia law creeping into our legal system? Now you’re endorsing the effectiveness of it.

    Not a dime’s worth of difference….

  6. As pretty as she is ignorant. Possibly a stunt to get the attention of the Trump campaign and a part in their administration.

  7. She is an Obacala supporter, nothing will happen. Maybe George Clooney and Susan Sarandon will put on some fatiques and clean it up?

  8. I get paid £96 every hour from online jobs. I never thought I’d be able to do it but my friend KO is earning £9k /monthly by doing this job and she showed me how. Try it out on following website..P013,,,,…

    ——– IncomeReport.CF

  9. If it is on federal land it is off the beat path. However, the feds own too much of Arizona as it is. That is not an unusual fine for a first offender.

  10. Perhaps she could have been sentenced to clean up the rock. Scrubbing it with an acid, or whatever they use to try to get rid of etchings, might have given her some perspective not to damage park land.

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