Several men were arrested in Maryland after police raided an adult bookstore and charged the men using an unconstitutional anti-sodomy law.
According to the Washington Blade, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office raided the Bush River Books & Video store in Abington on May 20. Nine men were arrested and many of them were accused of engaging in sexual acts with each other. One was also accused of soliciting prostitution from an undercover female deputy.
Four of the men are facing a charge of perverted sexual practices, which is the state’s anti-sodomy law. One man received the same charge and an additional charge of indecent exposure. The other four men are facing charges of indecent exposure or solicitation of prostitution.
“I went inside and was hooking up with someone and the next thing I know eight of us were against the wall with handcuffs with plastic zip ties on them,” one man, from here on referred to as John Doe, arrested in the raid told the Washington Blade. “And we all spent the night in jail. I was released at like six o’clock in the morning.”
A friend of one of the men shared that the friend and another man were in a locked booth when the police “in full riot gear unlocked his room and arrested him and his friend.” They are now facing indecent exposure for being in a locked room.
According to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the video store received complaints from people living in the surrounding area and other patrons. Or as a statement from the police specifically said, the operation was prompted by an “increased number of concerns and allegations of a wide variety of illegal activity” from “citizens and patrons of the business”.
“I don’t know why people have a problem with this,” said John Doe. “We go there to meet people like us.”
Maryland’s law against “perverted sexual practices” prohibits “unnatural or perverted sexual practice with another [person] or with an animal.” But in 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Lawrence v. Texas made state anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional. This is especially true when consenting adults in a private setting are involved.
Attorney Greg Nevins, a senior counsel for Lambda Legal, spoke the Washington Blade on the legality of the case. Nevins says there’s a strong case for private, locked rooms in a video store to be seen as similar to locked hotel rooms.
“There are cases around the country discussing whether certain areas are private, usually focusing on whether the participants had a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Nevins explained.
Last year, Maryland’s General Assembly voted to repeal the perverted sexual practice law, but it seems that the Senate and governor have yet to act on that vote.
Source: The Washington Blade,