FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A man in Central California is charged with spraying graffiti on a prehistoric rock carving of a bighorn sheep in a national forest to get revenge on his boss, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Archaeologists with the U.S. Forest Service discovered a black substance sprayed on Rabbit Island, a rocky outcropping in the Sequoia National Forest in the mountains east of Bakersfield. The area was once home to the Tubatulabal Indians.
The graffiti included a phone number sprayed on the rocks inviting people call for a sex act. Investigators dialed the number leading them to a Bakersfield business and a disgruntled employee, 58-year-old Christopher James Harp, according to the arrest warrant filed by Special Agent Brian Adams with the U.S. Forest Service. Harp admitted to the graffiti, Adams says.
The graffiti stretching 100 yards long also included vulgar pictures. It damaged a prehistoric petroglyph of a bighorn sheep on the face of a large boulder. Investigators later determined that the thick, black spray was from an aerosol can of asphalt sealer.
Harp told investigators he wanted revenge against his boss, who "talked to him like a child," court papers say, adding that Harp said he was drunk at the time, and he didn't know the rocks had archaeological value.
Harp pleaded not guilty to one count of defacing public land. Court records show that he has been placed in a facility for substance abuse and mental health treatment. If convicted, Harp could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and be fined $250,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento says.
Harp or his attorney, Janet Bateman, could not be immediately reached to comment on the charge.