• Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

mccoy.ventures

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A Rogue Climber Running From the Law Was Fleeing His Own Trauma

Urban explorers who are caught trespassing are typically charged with misdemeanors, if at all. Mr. Wright, however, was charged with burglary — for entering a building illegally to take photographs — and several other felonies that could put him in prison for more than 25 years.

After the arrest, he was held without bond in 23-hour lockdown for more than two months. Prosecutors argued that Mr. Wright’s time in the Army made him too dangerous to release.

“The state has not known what his motivations are, what his experience is,” the Hamilton County prosecutor handling the case told a judge this spring. “But we do know what his training is, and his training makes him at least potentially very dangerous for our community.”

The judge set bail at $400,000, far more than Mr. Wright could afford.

Prosecutors have since told Mr. Wright, charged with illegally climbing three structures in Cincinnati, that he can avoid prison time by pleading guilty to a felony and agreeing to therapy, probation and no more climbing.

But Mr. Wright seemed dejected at the thought. “You could put me through years of therapy, give me all the meds in the world, and it would not help me the way that my art helps me,” he said.

Stuck behind bars, he began to feel that he was being punished for his time in uniform.

“I gave a lot for this country,” Mr. Wright said. “And I feel at every step, they have used it against me.”

There is growing evidence that intense physical pursuits — rock climbing, mountain biking, skydiving — can be powerful tools for treating depression and traumatic stress. What psychologists call “recreational therapy” can greatly increase mindfulness and feelings of accomplishment and create positive personal bonds.