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Judge Rules In Favor Of Palm Springs Police In Warm Sands Trial

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After a trial that lasted almost two weeks, a California judge this week refused to dismiss charges for 19 men arrested in the the Warm Sands sex sting operation, instead ruling in favor of the Palm Springs police department. Superior Court Judge David Downing said in his judgement: "These 19 men were not being arrested for being gay, they were arrested for having sex in a public place."

Ps "Downing said he sided with the prosecution despite revelations of 'derogatory' comments made during the police action by the former Palm Springs police chief and a sergeant in charge of the operation. 'Men were clearly engaging in public sex and the police could no longer ignore that,' Downing said. “Maybe they should have done it differently, but that's not my call.'”

"The decision came as a disappointing blow to the defense, which had argued that the sting was an example of the department's 'selective enforcement” against gays. 'I think evidence shows that the Palm Springs Police Department is obsessed with getting the gay guy,' said defense attorney Roger Tansey in court."

"The defense argued that while there have been numerous reports of public sex between heterosexuals in Palm Springs, 'straight people' had never been subjected to similar stings."

One of the defense attorneys claims that the police are simply anti-gay: "They are obsessed with getting the gay guys," attorney Roger Tansey said.  Another defense lawyer said no police records supported the idea that Warm Sands residents were complaining about men having gay sex in public, as police claimed after the June 2009 sting.

Last month, the city's Chief of Police David Dominguez resigned due to criticism he faced for using the phrase 'filthy motherf**kers' while referring to gay men involved in the sting operation.

Watch a KPSP report on the outcome of the trial, AFTER THE JUMP.

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Comments

  1. Sensitivity training is in order, but the ruling is legitimate.

    Public sex is illegal. I'm more concerned with why gay men still engage in this Neanderthalic practice than police official's homophobia.

    Why is it that on previous threads on this subject matter MORE posters were outraged by the homophobic remarks than gay men engaging in illegal sexual activity? What does that say about us?

    Sorry, I feel the opposite, but I do. Remove the plank from your own eye before you point out the plank in another's.

    There are different degrees of injustice. I'm sick of those who play the victim card so willingly and eagerly.

    Posted by: Vince in WeHo | Feb 5, 2011 1:34:41 PM


  2. For the life of me I cannot understand the need to have sex in public and then the privileged whining when you're busted for it. Part of the "thrill" is the possibility of getting busted, right?

    Well, ultimate thrill, you win.

    Posted by: DerekWashington | Feb 5, 2011 1:50:38 PM


  3. I am gay but also does'nt understand why people have sex in public. I also hate it when I see pictures and videos of gays givng bjs and having public sex in folsom or any other gay (pride) parades. It makes me sick!

    Posted by: JAKE | Feb 5, 2011 2:05:03 PM


  4. I agree with the Judge completely! Sex in public is illegal and it should be punish wether you are gay or straight! I also think that the Palm Springs Police are obsessed with catching the Gay Guy doing something wrong...We need to stand up to this injustice happening in a so called gay friendly city! Enough is Enough!

    Posted by: Josh | Feb 5, 2011 2:10:58 PM


  5. @ Vince: Yes, public sex is illegal. But its illegal for gays AND straights. There's a lot o' str8 public sex occurring, yet its the homos who are targeted by these vicious police stings time and time again. And the police don't just issue a citation - they want to humiliate, ruin lives and take the 'mos down.

    While str8s have sex on the beach, gays are usually in secluded areas hidden from passers-by. Yet the gays are targeted.

    And the police always claim they are acting on complaints from the public, but it usually turns out that's not true. The cops just want to get the gays, often as a way to boost their arrest & conviction stats as they expect targets to plead guilty out of shame.

    So please put aside your prissy judgmental attitude and get on side - queers are being targeted by cops for being queer and are perceived as weak, easy targets. Your tribe deserves your support whether you agree with their actions or not.

    Posted by: DiCK | Feb 5, 2011 2:57:57 PM


  6. sex shouldn't only happen in bedrooms. we shouldn't push all sexual behaviors behind closed doors. sex belongs inside AND outside: sex in an empty field, on an empty beach, outdoors while hiking, sex on a river bank, sex in a pool. for me there is a clear difference between sex outside -en plein air- and sex in public.

    certainly public spaces like bathrooms, parks, and public commons is a whole other story. any place with a reasonable expectation of privacy (camping trip) is easily contrasted with those without (airport bathroom).

    for those who want to shag in public places, have fun with the legal consequences. in short, i dont sh*t in your bed, so dont f@ck in my bathroom.

    Posted by: mld | Feb 5, 2011 3:01:52 PM


  7. While I don't condone sex in public (there are certainly plenty of places in Palm Springs designated for sexual activity), the attitude of the police was not professional, and their smug reactions after the verdict show a pattern of discrimination on the force.

    Posted by: francoise | Feb 5, 2011 3:06:24 PM


  8. The day cops start doing sting operations at all the various "make out points" that straight people hookup in is the day that I'll side with the police. Until then, it looks a lot like selective enforcement of the law. Not to mention the fact that from what I read, it wasn't that these cops patrolled the area catching random people in the act. They went out and flirted with guys and coerced them into flashing them before arresting them. I'll bet a lot of the guys that got caught were older gay men. A lot of these guys came of age when public cruising was the way to meet gay men. This was before way before the age of the internet. Now these guys will be subject to justice America style, where the rule is even after you serve your time you should be punished for the rest of your life by being branded a sex offender.

    Posted by: Frank | Feb 5, 2011 3:06:36 PM


  9. @Dick your comment - "Your tribe deserves your support whether you agree with their actions or not.", is unfortunate, and perhaps not what you really mean.

    No tribe ever deserves the support of anyone who disagrees with their actions - such an expectation is completely contrary to the personal freedoms for which this country stands. Such behavior currently and historically has lead to some pretty ugly results.

    Posted by: dvdinorl | Feb 5, 2011 4:01:04 PM


  10. A lot of commenters (and maybe the judge himself) seem to have forgotten the background info on this case.
    Most of these men were NOT arrested because they were caught having sex in public. They were minding their own business and approached by a hunky police officer and then coerced into exposing themselves. (And if you've ever been to Warm Sands, even the sidewalks are very calm and pretty private with fences and most windows looking into inner courtyards, so no other person is likely to have seen anything to be offended by.)
    Many of the men suggested to the officer that it would not be a good idea there and suggested a hotel room, but the officer pressed on and coerced them into doing something that they might not otherwise have done, and indeed some may never have had an inclination to do before.

    The equivalent would NOT be to go to Palm Springs' version of Inspiration point for straight people or shine lights into cars at the Drive-In to see if men and women are in the act of making out (and why would we care if they are?)

    The equivalent would be if officers in Fort Lauderdale were to go at the height of Spring Break to a Frat House party zone, find an quiet street where a frat boy is bound to come by every few minutes (maybe taking a walk to the store to pick up some mixers), send in your sexiest young buxom female officer in plain clothes to call him over and beg him to let her have a peak in in his pants. Then she ignores his suggestion that it's not a good place to do that, she says she's do anything to have that peak at what he's got, then when he looks around, sees no one else is around, decides what-the-heck, it won't hurt anybody and then she flashes her badge and his world come crashing down on him as he is branded for life as a sex offender for something he had no intention of doing had there been no entrapment.

    That would never happen. Because there would be an uproar if straight men were entrapped in such a way. And really I think the VAST majority of straight men could be coerced at certain moments of their life (say, when single, on vacation and after a few drinks and in a spot where it might seem harmless enough).

    This was clearly police entrapment.

    Posted by: GregV | Feb 5, 2011 4:17:05 PM


  11. Entrapment AND double standard. Sounds like a really welcoming atmosphere for gays there in Palm Springs. What's the city council going to do to correct this bigoted situation so everyone is treated fairly?

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Feb 5, 2011 4:21:11 PM


  12. @GREV, You hit the nail on the head.

    Posted by: Frank | Feb 5, 2011 4:28:20 PM


  13. Straight men are often the target of sex sting operations, so stop using that as an excuse to overlook poor behavior from some of our brothers.....and more than often then not they are probably married men that are not out.
    Why are men standing around in the park by themselves anyway? Probably to have sex, so I don't buy into the hot cop made them do it. There are ample opportunities to meet and hook up with another gay without breaking the law.
    Some in our community need to clean up their act or come out and live your life with dignity.

    Posted by: major707 | Feb 5, 2011 5:42:38 PM


  14. If GregV is correct, then this is a travesty.

    Aside from that, I assume that most people know that most guys who have public sex are married, closeted, or extremely ugly. Still, there are enough online options for all those guys. I've had sex outdoors (with my ex) and loved it, but it was on private property, with zero chance of being caught by other people or the police. I frankly don't understand the "thrill" of being caught, because thinking about that while having sex seems like unnecessary multitasking.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 5, 2011 7:28:17 PM


  15. I guess (from the other comments posted) that I'm the last unreconstructed gay liberationist, but I'm not impressed by the argument that what these men did is illegal. Until 1975, gay sex in California was a felony, one that I committed often and enthusiastically. The requirement that sex venues have a landlord strikes me as equally unreasonable.

    Municipalities are regularly charged with providing recreational opportunities for their citizens. I so no reason why a tennis court or a swimming pool is a more legitimate public utility than a heavy petting zoo.

    Posted by: Rich | Feb 6, 2011 12:35:27 AM


  16. Yeah, double standard and the cops were in the wrong (go fig, huh? Cops fuckin' up with minorities...what a peculiar situation...) and it's homophobia and play some stupid song outside the window of your one. But still...dirty bastards. Public sexin' is so gross to me...in fact, any form of sex that isn't had completely in the pitch dark in a locked room in a bed with clean pressed sheets that lasts more than fifteen minutes...anyway, public space isn't for public sex of any kind. Period...sure sure, heat of the moment, but human failing is failure nonetheless.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 6, 2011 2:05:02 AM


  17. I agree that a sting operation targeting gays is wrong and setting guys up and baiting them is very wrong. But I also live here in PS, and I don't mean to point fingers or say locals are not involved but I am kinda tired of the guys who come here and act like pigs while they're out of sight of their wives and families and churches, have public sex like they're out of control animals, then pack their bags and fly back home to their pure lives. I don't know who got caught or where they're from but PS should not be the slop trough for these closeted pseudo-wholesome visiting pigs.

    Posted by: Eddie | Feb 6, 2011 2:08:36 AM


  18. Good. These gay men that were arrested for having sex in public deserve to be found guilty and should be punished. They are an embarrassment to the community, and they make all gay men look like whores. And the entitled whining is annoying as bloody hell. I'm glad that these gay men were arrested for having sex in public. Just like I am glad if straight people are arrested as well.

    Posted by: Hell, yes | Feb 6, 2011 3:09:43 AM


  19. Was this arrest truly in public..like in a park, empty lot, or street area or was it in a private resort like All Worlds? I heard it was on the grounds of a private resort. Is this true?

    Posted by: Tigger | Feb 6, 2011 6:23:53 AM


  20. So these men diserve to be arrested, I'll give you that, but do they really need to be labeled as sex offenders? Are they really a danger to the community? I hardly think so. I do however beleve that the goal of law enforcement with these kinds of operations is not the safety of the community but targeting and embarassing a specific group of people. I mean, if they really cared as much about this issue as they claimed then law enforcement would shut down Spring Break, and Mardi Gras, where far worse things happen in public then what occured in the case of these men.

    Posted by: Frank | Feb 6, 2011 6:24:33 AM


  21. What needs to be strsssed here is the FACT that it's not just gay men having sex with each other that brought about this discriminatory case...it's the fact that these police are trained to "dress/look gay" and are sent under cover to approach gay men, hit on them and ask them if they'd like to hook up. They are set up! It happens in many cities, where police is actually trained to go out of their way and "catch" gay men who are NOT in the act. In some places, even if the gay men in question refuse...they have gotten arressted. It is absolutely a "catch the gay guy" mantra and gay communities need to band together to change this ill stain on law enforcement that exists.

    Posted by: IonMusic | Feb 6, 2011 7:58:20 AM


  22. I really wish people would familiarize themselves with the facts of this case before exploding into premature exasperation and ranting on about public sex. This case is not about public sex it is about entrapment. Most of the suspects asked the decoy cops to leave the area for sexual relations the cops refused and insisted on seeing the suspects penises. This entire episode stinks to high heaven with the City Council and the idiot mayor included.

    Posted by: ggreen | Feb 6, 2011 7:58:29 AM


  23. I also happen to be from the dessert, and no I have never engaged in public sex (happily married to my partner) but neither have some of these nearly 20 men who were arrested. Those in this area who have educated themselves on this story know how outrageous it is, and it's truly something that should draw the attention of all gay rights advocates.

    The method used to arrest these men is something that could have made many a gay men be arrested. Many a moral, classy, upright gay men. These officers tried to lure in unsuspecting gay men, some who did happen to just be going for a job, or a day at the park (that's legal guys. we're allowed to go to a park by ourselves without the need to have an agenda). The officers would then spot who they percieved to be a gay man, approach them, compliment them, and say they were interested. Then the officers would request they get intimate. If you're following this and you still feel the gay men were in the wrong, then you are essentially for the criminalization of homosexuality and are in favor of being arrested for showing interest in a man. Because that's exactly the story here. SOME of these men did indeed deny the officer's request and say they were not interested.

    As for the assertion that police departments target hetrosexuals? I have two very close girl friends who I was just discussing this story with. Both recollected stories of a well known "straight hook up zone" around here that is notorious for teenagers and college kids in which they were both having sex with their boyfriends. One said the officer tapped on their window and said "take it inside" and left, and the other said the cop laughed, shook his head and walked away. Hence they are both outraged by this. Barstow has a very well known spot in town where hetro kids have sex in their cars and everyone in town knows of it, and yet police never target those individuals, much less pose as a seductor who makes a pass at them all to get them arrested.

    Anyone defending the cops here must be very ignorant to this story, because I can only imagine if you knew the facts you wouldn't be so prone to get in bed with the enemy here. Or sadly, maybe you harbor some disdain for gays and you would. There are many self loathing gays out there.

    Posted by: JoJoCA | Feb 6, 2011 8:32:52 AM


  24. the best argument to prove these cops were practicing with a homophobic slant is the Coechella Festival in Indio near Palm Springs. I went last year and was disgusted at the amount of very public hetrosexual sex in cars, in lawns, i n the prtie potties going on and the amount of security that turned a blind eye while revelers cheered said lued acts on. Since it's straight sex, it's either applauded or ignored. You've got to really have your blinders on if you think most law enforcement is gay friendly. I've got two very militant news stories from gay bars in Atlanta and Dallas that prove otherwise. But some people would rather pretend to be part of a crowd than admit facts due to their own fragile egos.

    Posted by: Michael C. | Feb 6, 2011 8:45:52 AM


  25. @Vince in Weho,

    'Sensitivity Training' is one of the obnoxious concepts that has given Political Correctness it's major league bad name. And cops, fire-fighters, teamsters, etc., are not p*ssy, insecure, easily manipulated middle class college kids.

    Who reading this would appreciate being forced to attend 'Sensitivity Training'? If you have a shred of self-respect, no one.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 6, 2011 10:29:53 AM


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