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November 23, 2014

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Utah men avoid jail time in ancient rock toppling

Image

Utah State Parks / AP

This undated photo released by Utah State Parks shows a rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park. Authorities say three men could face felony charges after purposely knocking over an ancient Utah desert rock formation and posting a video of the incident online.

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah men removed from their Boy Scout leadership positions after a viral video showed them toppling an ancient rock formation pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges Tuesday and avoided jail time.

Glenn Taylor, 45, and David Hall, 42, appeared in Utah's 7th District Court to enter their pleas under a deal with prosecutors. The two men from Highland were sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay fines and restitution, which has not yet been determined, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

State prosecutors are still trying to put a price on the amount of damage caused in October to the mushroom-shaped sandstone pillar, which park officials said had been standing for much of human history, if not longer. The formation was estimated to be about 170 million years old.

A video shot by Hall and posted on YouTube shows Taylor dislodging the formation at Goblin Valley State Park in central Utah that's filled with thousands of the pillars called "hoodoos."

Hall, Taylor and a third man were seen cheering and high-fiving after the formation toppled.

The men claimed it might have been ready to fall and kill a visitor. Both were later stripped of their Boy Scout positions.

Scott Card, an attorney for Taylor, told the Tribune that the restitution will be thousands of dollars and will go toward putting up signs in the park to warn others against damaging the formations.

Both men were originally facing felony mischief charges. If Taylor and Hall meet the requirements of their probation, the offenses will later be removed from their records.

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