The outcome of the trial for Kyle Rittenhouse, who was found not guilty Friday of homicide and other charges stemming from his actions during protests in Wisconsin last summer, would not have changed his status as an Arizona State University online student even if he was convicted.
Rittenhouse revealed during his nationally televised trial that he was an ASU student. He was acquitted by a jury Friday on all counts after arguing during the trial that he acted in self-defense.
Rittenhouse, 18, can continue to pursue his online studies at ASU, although a guilty verdict would not have changed that, according to the university.
ASU does not ask questions about criminal history in the admissions process or for online enrollment, said university spokesperson Jay Thorne.
Even if he were imprisoned, Rittenhouse could continue as an ASU online student, depending on the internet at his prison facility and their rules, Thorne said.
ASU doesn’t factor in criminal background in part because education is seen as part of the rehabilitation process and a way to help people who have been incarcerated, he said.
Rittenhouse not in nursing school
Rittenhouse said during testimony on Nov. 10 that he is a college student at ASU studying nursing.
The university confirmed that Rittenhouse enrolled as a non-degree-seeking online student for the session that started in mid-October of this year.
“Kyle Rittenhouse has not gone through the admissions process with Arizona State University and is not enrolled in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation,” a university statement said at the time.
The online program “allows students access to begin taking classes as they prepare to seek admission into a degree program at the university,” according to ASU.
Rittenhouse said in testimony that he lives in Wisconsin with his mother and two sisters and that he graduated from an online high school.
Rittenhouse was charged with several criminal counts, including homicide, which if convicted could have led to life in prison.
The trial stemmed from his actions in Kenosha during the summer 2020 protests that were sparked by a Kenosha police officer shooting and wounding Jacob Blake.
Then 17-year-old Rittenhouse went to Kenosha with an AR-15-type rifle and medical kit, saying his goal was to protect businesses and property from destruction. Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters and wounded a third amid the unrest in what he said was self-defense. Prosecutors tried to portray him as a vigilante in search of trouble.
Rittenhouse stood in court Friday as the verdicts were read and started crying as the "not guilty" pronouncements were made.
ASU group has supported Rittenhouse
The trial drew national attention, raising debate over gun rights, self-defense and protest. Rittenhouse has become a political symbol and rallying cry for conservative groups, including at ASU.
The student group College Republicans United last summer announced it was accepting donations to support Rittenhouse’s legal defense. The group recently said on Twitter that it raised more than $14,000 for his attorney fees last year.
"We’re just glad that in the end he got a fair trial," club president Jesse Fischer said.
Fischer said he’s content with the results and that the club might reach out to Rittenhouse as a friendly welcome to ASU gesture. The group currently has about 20 active members, but Fischer thinks that would grow if the club was a recognized organization on campus.
According to ASU, the group is not a registered student organization because they don’t have a qualified primary advisor.
USA TODAY contributed to this article.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kyle Rittenhouse trial won't affect his status at Arizona State University