We just ran a story on one community trying to put a stop to public sex in their parks (Wilton Manors, Florida Battles Squirt.Org And Public Sex). It seemed that the community was not looking to stop heterosexual sex, but men hooking up with men in public places.
Long Beach, California and its police department seemed to be battling the same issue, but how they went about it back in 2014 has put them in a little legal hot water.
A Superior Court judge Friday made sweeping statements about the Long Beach Police Department’s treatment of gay men in the community, saying in a ruling over a lewd conduct case that the department intentionally targets gay men, and that the prosecutor’s office portrays them as “sexual deviants and pedophiles.”
In his ruling, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina dismissed the case against Rory Moroney, 50, of Long Beach, who was arrested Oct. 15, 2014, at Recreation Park and charged with one count of misdemeanor indecent exposure and one count of lewd conduct. If Moroney would have been convicted of indecent exposure, he would have been required to register as a sex offender for life.
Detective Raymond Arcala, an undercover decoy in the vice unit, said Moroney was masturbating in one of the park restrooms. Moroney, however, said Arcala’s eye contact and posturing indicated he wanted to have sex and wasn’t offended by the advances.
In dismissing the case, Dhanidina granted a defense motion that the case was based on discriminatory enforcement and prosecution because the Police Department’s vice unit only uses undercover male decoys in its lewd conduct sting operations and targets gay men.
Outside the courtroom, neither prosecutor Arlene Anderson nor Arcala responded to requests for comment.
In an email, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said: “Until we review the judge’s ruling we cannot know whether there is any basis for believing the police did anything wrong. After we review the transcript we will make a decision and possibly comment.”
The Long Beach Police Department released a statement late Friday saying that it is “taking this court ruling seriously, and will evaluate how we respond to these kinds of complaints.”
In a statement, Police Chief Robert Luna said the department is “100 percent committed to civil rights and equality for all people, including the LGBTQ community.”
Defense attorneys Bruce Nickerson and Stephanie Loftin argued Moroney’s arrest was invalid because, according to jury instructions from a 1979 California case, lewd conduct is only a crime if, among other things, the defendant was in a public place and reasonably knew that his conduct would offend another person present.
Nickerson, in an interview from his office in the Bay Area, said Friday’s ruling sent a powerful message.
“This judge knows discrimination when he sees it,” said Nickerson, who won a unanimous decision in 1996 from the California Supreme Court, which ruled that the Mountain View police discriminated against gay men when the department targeted them for lewd conduct arrests. “His ruling is powerful because it sends a message far beyond this case. It sends a message to police departments throughout the state who do these decoy operations for lewd conduct cases.”
Loftin said she has been trying lewd conduct cases for 25 years, and Dhanidina’s ruling was the first time in Long Beach court history that a judge has granted a motion for dismissal based on discriminatory enforcement, known as a Murgia motion.
In his closing remarks, Dhanidina said, “The arbitrary enforcement of the law as seen in this case undermines the credibility of our legal system, eroding public confidence in our ability to achieve just results. This court is determined to do its part to prevent this from occurring.” – presstelegram.com
For the entire story, head over to presstelegram.com.
Do you think the police were in the wrong?
If gay men are having sex in public and the community wants it stopped, shouldn't they be the ones that are targeted and isn't that fair?
The defendant was masturbating in the park. Wasn't that wrong, too?
Let's hear what you think.
h/t : presstelegram.com