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Florida Pastor Arrested Soliciting Sex from Men in Park

A Florida pastor was among those arrested this week in a sex sting in a public park:

ClarkPolk County Sheriff's Office vice detectives arrested four men, including a pastor and a retired Canadian police officer, during an undercover operation today at Peace River Park in the Homeland area. Detectives said after they made contact with the men, the suspects exposed themselves and/or asked them to perform sex acts on them. Among those arrested was Matthew Preston Clark, 33, of Bartow, who told detectives he is senior pastor at the Blessed Assurance Temple, 1245 S. McAdoo Ave, Bartow. He was charged with soliciting a lewd act.

"It never ceases to amaze me when professionals such as preachers and law enforcement officers are engaged in such outrageous behavior," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a release. "That type of behavior is not going to be tolerated in our parks. We want to ensure that all of our parks are safe for children and their families to enjoy. "

Families like Pastor Clark's?

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  1. at least cover or blur out the kids' faces. It's not their fault their father is a hypocritical a-hole.

    Posted by: tom a | Jan 26, 2012 2:55:39 PM

  2. "That type of behavior is not going to be tolerated in our parks. We want to ensure that all of our parks are safe for children and their families to enjoy." Unless that type of behavior is being performed by one man and one woman. Then they don't have a problem with it.

    Posted by: Sam | Jan 26, 2012 2:56:23 PM

  3. one of the many benefits of being comfortable with one's self, and being supported by others as a gay man, is that we don't have to sneak around hoping to get man-on-man action in places like this -risking fear of being caught.

    hey guys, nobody's gonna arrest you for going on a date with another dude and then going to back to your place to get laid.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 26, 2012 3:06:40 PM

  4. @tom, blur out what? That's the church's website.

    @sam, straw-man much? Sorry, but in general straight people don't "cruise" parks and store bathrooms and have sex with strangers out in the woods like feral dogs. Most gay people don't, either, and I wouldn't want to see it if I was in the park with my boyfriend either. It's disgusting.

    Posted by: Joey Y | Jan 26, 2012 3:07:27 PM

  5. "Unless that type of behavior is being performed by one man and one woman. Then they don't have a problem with it."

    The police regularly use similar tactics to arrest Johns.

    I'm know there are straight couples that will engage in public sex, but it's not nearly as frequent as with men cruising for other men.

    I take issue with the police tactics involved in these mass arrests, but if you're having sex in a public place, you have to be prepared to accept the proportionate consequences.

    Posted by: Nat | Jan 26, 2012 3:19:17 PM

  6. These stings are entrapment, plain and simple.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Jan 26, 2012 3:20:51 PM

  7. 1) Sex in public parks is not ok

    2) For once I agree with Kiwi. There's no need for this behavior anymore. There is this thing called the internet. You'll be able to find all the gratuitous sex you need there, without risking arrest.

    I don't feel sorry for anyone busted in these stings.

    Posted by: Jack | Jan 26, 2012 3:21:01 PM

  8. Although I'm always glad to see a hypocrite exposed, I loathe this kind of entrapment. Detectives "made contact" with the men? They cruised these men. They initiated the sexual behavior. That disgusts me. I'd bet that hypocritical troll could wander the woods for days without getting any legitimate action. Using police resources for this nonsense is the real crime here.

    Posted by: David | Jan 26, 2012 3:22:13 PM

  9. Are those of you applauding these arrests so incredibly, mind-bogglingly naive that you don't realize that the police who do this sort of thing are almost always acting out of homophobic motives? What the sheriff in this instance referred to "outrageous behavior," he certainly was referring to sex between men--regardless of where it takes place--not to sex in a public place.

    Get real!

    And, by the way, being a pastor does not automatically make one a hypocrite and a homophobe, any more than being married and having sex with guys on the side does (ever heard of bisexuality?....oh, that's right, all bisexuals are just gay and won't admit it or accept it, right? Sheesh.)

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 26, 2012 3:36:48 PM

  10. The entrapment bugs me but I am also not a big fan of cruising in the park. I remember seeing a chart of the age groups who were arrested in one town in Florida (Palm Springs maybe?). There were a handful of 20 and 30 year olds while the majority were over the age of 40. To me, this can be intrepreted that many of the crusiers are likely closeted or even married. Like Little Kiwi said, there is really no reason for an openly gay man to cruise a park. Gays cruised in the 60s and 70s because there was no place else to go. Now there are tons of gay bars, parties, and hookup sites. There really is no need to hookup anymore in a park bathroom.

    Posted by: KP | Jan 26, 2012 3:41:48 PM

  11. Rick's nervous because this is the only way he can get his cock sucked.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 26, 2012 3:46:22 PM

  12. while vice-squad entrapments are ugly and prejudicial, the reality is this: if these men spent have as much time working on overcoming their insecurities about being gay as they spend on trying to secretly get their cock sucked they wouldn't be in any trouble.

    stop trying to find secret ways to get cock. deal with your sexuality. work on it. embrace it. address it. then be a real adult and go out and your new concern will be "does that guy like me?" and not "is the guy at that urinal an undercover cop?"

    for real.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 26, 2012 4:08:02 PM

  13. Everytime Andy posts on some kind of sting in a public park, I am constantly astounded by the number of people trying to defend these gay men.

    Stop having sex in public! Entrapment or not, gay men are not the only victims of sex stings. You want equality, well boys, you got it. Stop breaking the law and then claiming homophobia because you get caught.

    Posted by: BEAHBEAH | Jan 26, 2012 4:22:50 PM

  14. By publishing the pastor's name and picture, you hurt gay people in legitimizing the behavior of the cops. So what if you think he is a hypoctire! So do the homophobes! Thanks TR.

    Posted by: ted | Jan 26, 2012 4:24:00 PM

  15. He was just out there looking for souls to save. : )

    I feel sorry for this guy though that he felt he couldn't live an out happy life as a gay or bi-sexual man. Maybe he "needed" to get caught and this will be the start of his honest and better life.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jan 26, 2012 4:29:55 PM

  16. Wow. Judgmental group here. If people didn't have sex in parks, meaning nor right smack dab in the middle of everyone, but at "make out spots" and discreet areas a good portion of you squeamish queens wouldn't even be on the planet.

    Granted it's not ideal, but yes it happens. I think Rick is more concerned in the aspect of the people conducting the sting in being the first to make a move in order to get a response and thus turning tables and saying they were propositioned.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Jan 26, 2012 4:52:03 PM

  17. The Polk County FL Sheriff is a major publicity whore, he's in front of cameras more than Madonna. He's slightly to the right of Mussolini.
    I am seriously considering become a pastor myself, though. At first it was gonna be "The Church of Prompt Succor." Now it'll be called "The Church of Prompt SUCKER" and we'll picnic in the park!

    Posted by: Wavin' Dave | Jan 26, 2012 4:55:18 PM

  18. Apart from the many issues raised by this article, it is not illegal to solicit sexual activity from another consenting adult, unless the police can prove that it was to have sex there, or else was for money. Otherwise, asking another person to engage in sexual activity is protected speech.

    Posted by: Ted | Jan 26, 2012 4:59:26 PM

  19. Ordinarily I agree with, and enjoy KIWI's rather eloquent comments, this being the first time I find myself dissenting.

    While it may be true, and seeming true to KIWI, and sundry, that sexcapades in our parks, our sand dunes, and national forests are no longer necessary perhaps things are not so crystal clear to those men still living closeted lives, who could never imagine the carefree gay world KIWI, and sundry, describe, where gay men are not assaulted and murdered as they come out with their dates from those public restaurants, bars, and ball parks, where children are not bullied to death, where gay men and women, far from being stigmatized, are afforded the respect of their countrymen, marrying and divorcing, as they please, in all fifty states, who contrary to KIWIS Utopia still feel compelled to covertly frequent parks and rest areas. Things are only starting to get better, but equality is still a VERY long way off.

    “One of the many benefits of being comfortable with one's self, and being supported by others as a gay man, is that we don't have to sneak around hoping to get man-on-man action in places like this, risking fear of being caught,” writes KIWI . . . the operative word being “comfortable.” Perhaps not everyone is as comfortable as KIWI with their sexuality, and being open in this brave new world of KIWI’s, but I am wondering where is the support for these men touted by KIWI? Or is that support reserved only for those living outside the closet, or who conduct themselves according to KIWI’s rule book for gay men?

    Putting all that aside, looking back to my own time beating the bushes by the river in Reno, the dunes in North Carolina’s Myrtle Beach, or the majestic forest in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, I never saw an extended family, brothers, sisters, mums and daddums, uncles and aunts, and lecherous cousins with incestuous leanings kicking or tossing a ball around, not even a nuclear unit, a mother, father, with a little girl, a little boy, and something in the oven. These activities were often conducted in the dead of night, when all the heterosexual people were tucked safely in bed with hegemonic visions floating in their heads. And those places where we played and cavorted freely, frolicking happily under God’s bright sun, was done in more remote and exotic places, again far from the sounds of bickering children, and scolding mothers, SO how exactly are these nocturnal gays endangering the parks and the families who play there?

    I am surprised that KIWI, usually discerning, and more subtle in thought, has chosen to criticize and pass judgment on these men, rather than attack the persecution by the police of gay men, and the obvious homophobia that is behind these stings. I am quite certain if the police had attractive women approach, and seduce men in the park those men would conduct themselves similarly to gay men seduced by hot policemen.
    The word “sting” itself implies a covert operation looking to infiltrate other covert operations or activities. I am always hearing how little man power the police have to investigate serious crimes, such as . . . oh, just off the top of my head, the enslavement and prostitution of children, and they think the best use of their limited resources is to go after consenting adults in remote places in the dead of night?

    What, but homophobia, could possibly motivate such a wanton waste of manpower, and seek to destroy the lives of men for not being straight? Maybe this wonderful new world is not quite the Utopia KIWI has made it out to be . . . because one thing is certain, these men’s lives would not be destroyed if they were found in the park with a woman.

    KIWI . . . it saddens, and disappoints me a little, that you have fallen drastically short of your usual thoughtful postings, engaging instead in the mundane babbling of the gay guilty man, overly concerned with what a homophobic straight society thinks, and finds himself embarrassed by the behavior of other gay men who are not as evolved as you.

    Posted by: Ricco | Jan 26, 2012 5:00:22 PM

  20. Why is intimacy disgusting? There seem to be a lot of prudes taking a moral high ground (oh yes, the CHILDREN must be protected). It must feel gratifying to shake your head disapprovingly at these closeted men who cruise parks. Gosh it almost makes one feel part of the straight world, doesn't it! "Don't hate us, we're disgusted too!"

    What a comfortable and cowardly place to be - bully for you.

    Posted by: Bill | Jan 26, 2012 5:04:02 PM

  21. It took me awhile to write my last posting, and read over additional postings made by KIWI in the interim.

    Politically, KIWI says a lot of things with which I agree . . . I am sorry to see such a drastic philosophical departure in the compassionate treatment of his fellowman. I have to wonder how someone can talk about gay men supporting gay men, yet be so unsupportive and judgmental.

    Writes KIWI: stop trying to find secret ways to get cock. deal with your sexuality. work on it. embrace it. address it. then be a real adult and go out and your new concern will be "does that guy like me?" and not "is the guy at that urinal an undercover cop?"

    WOW!! Spoken as plainly as a judgmental fundamentalist Christian lacking in utter empathy.

    Posted by: Ricco | Jan 26, 2012 5:17:31 PM

  22. In the Netherlands, some public parks have signs indicating designated gay cruising areas. So, families with children or other folks who are not interested in gay cruising/sex do not have to be concerned. Also, in Massachusetts, I believe, cruising and sex in public parks is permitted when participants are not visible to others. More, back in the day, San Francisco City Supervisors declared that people having sex in Buena Vista Park should be in the "privacy of their own bush." Clearly, entrapment could be the case if the police crawling on their bellies through the brambles catch guys going at it when those participants thought themselves to be unseen.

    Posted by: Modern Meet | Jan 26, 2012 5:22:33 PM

  23. Bravo BILL. It is like those Black people in the late 19th and early 20th century calling each other the "N" word because they felt certain Blacks made them look bad to White folks.

    Indeed! How brave of gay people to attack and vilify other gay people just to fit in with straight people.

    Posted by: Ricco | Jan 26, 2012 5:24:58 PM

  24. Give it a rest. Not wanting to see people have sex in a public park is FAR from prudish. Want to get laid? Go online and find someone. Want to be watched? Set it up. Don't hand me some nonsense about "intimacy is a beautiful thing" because I have enough respect for MY relationship's intimacy to actually KEEP it intimate. I shouldn't under ANY circumstance have to watch ANYONE having any sexual contact unless I choose to. Also, it's only entrapment if these men are coerced. Are you seriously arguing that gay men jave so little self-control that they just have to suck any cock they are near?

    Posted by: Joey Y | Jan 26, 2012 5:25:40 PM

  25. Maybe people wouldn't feel so f'ng ashamed of themselves if homophobia wasn't so rampant in this country! You want people to stop having sex in bushes and in filthy bathrooms, let the gays have equal rights. Then, people can come out and stop pretending to be straight while "cruising" in such dangerous areas.

    Posted by: Hollywood, Ca | Jan 26, 2012 5:34:32 PM

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