The young man Miley Cyrus chose to represent homeless youths at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday faces arrest in Oregon, a corrections official said.
An arrest warrant was issued for Jesse Helt, 22, when he stopped checking in with his probation officer for a criminal trespass conviction in November 2011, said Polk County, Oregon, Community Corrections Director Martin Silbernagel.
“Reportedly, he has returned to the Polk County area,” Silbernagel said. “We will be attempting to serve him his warrant, at which time he will be taken into custody.”
Polk County sheriff’s deputies are not actively searching for Helt because of a staff shortage, but they would arrest him if they encounter him, spokesman Dean Bender said Wednesday.
Helt took center stage at Sunday’s VMA broadcast to accept the best video of 2014 award “on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youths in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now.”
Cyrus, whose “Wrecking Ball” video was being honored, appeared to be near tears as she watched Helt, who said he was homeless, read the acceptance speech calling attention to the large population of homeless young people in Los Angeles.
“I’ve survived in shelters all over this city,” he said. “I’ve cleaned your hotel rooms. I’ve been an extra in your movies. I’ve been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you on the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight.”
Along with raising awareness of the problem of young people living on the streets of Los Angeles, Helt’s story caught the attention of corrections officials in northwest Oregon, where he grew up and where his mother lives.
If police find Helt, who some media reports said returned to Salem, Oregon, to visit his mother, he will be taken before a judge to decide whether he will spend up to a year in jail or be allowed to resume his probation, Silbernagel said.
Helt was initially arrested in October 2010 on burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespass charges. The burglary count was dismissed, but he was convicted of the mischief and trespass counts, Bender said.
“The media never fails to disappoint. You’ve chosen to go after Jesse instead of covering the issue of youth homelessness :(” Cyrus said on Twitter after online reports of his arrest warrant were first published Tuesday.
“While the media obsesses over one homeless mans legal issue, let’s help the other 1.6 million homeless youth http://www.prizeo.com/miley,” Cyrus said in an Instagram posting.
In a video posted on her Facebook page, she instructs fans to donate through a Prizeo fundraising site to My Friend’s Place, a Los Angeles-area charity that provides support for homeless people ages 12 to 25.