Florida Gators backup quarterback faces child pornography charges, suspended from team indefinitely

Florida Gators backup quarterback Jalen James Kitna was arrested Wednesday and accused of five felony counts of possession and distribution of child pornography. The team suspended him indefinitely and said in a statement it was shocked and saddened over his arrest.

Gainesville police said Kitna, 19, of Burleson, Texas, shared two illegal images with other internet users over the Discord social media service. Acting on a tip, police on Wednesday searched Kitna’s apartment and found three more images on an unspecified number of electronic devices they seized from Kitna. Police called him “the probable Discord account holder.”

The redshirt sophomore, who is studying advertising in the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, was still in the Alachua County Jail on Wednesday evening, hours after his arrest. The sheriff’s office does not permit jail detainees to speak to reporters without written permission from a defense lawyer and a senior jail official. It wasn’t clear whether Kitna had hired a lawyer.

The university said it could not say whether he was still enrolled as a student due to federal student privacy laws.

It wasn’t immediately clear when Kitna was originally accused of sharing the illegal images, or whether that had occurred before the team’s final game of the season, when Kitna briefly substituted for starter Anthony Richardson during Saturday night’s 45-38 loss to Florida State. 

Kitna, the son of NFL quarterback Jon Kitna – who played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys – played limited amounts in four games this season but was expected to take a larger role on the team, depending on whether Richardson is drafted into the NFL before next season. He completed 10 of his 14 passes for 181 yards and rushed one time for six yards this season.

“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the news involving Jalen Kitna,” said Steve McClain, University Athletic Associated spokesman. “These are extremely serious charges and the University of Florida and the UAA have zero tolerance for such behavior.”

Police said Kitna told investigators he believed the images were legal because he found them online, and he realized he should not have shared them based on at least one Discord user’s reaction. Discord deactivated his account and told Kitna he had violated the company’s terms of service, police said. 

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This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]. You can donate to support our students here.

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