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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. And unlike some of the comments above, I do feel sorry for these people. I remember going to such dangerous places because I felt like there was no other option... it's sad.

    Posted by: Hollywood, Ca | Jan 26, 2012 5:35:54 PM


  2. Another hypocritical pastor!

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 26, 2012 5:37:15 PM


  3. Have there been studies done about the percentage of people (men) caught in these restroom/park stings who are married or identify as "straight"? Yes some gay people do it too but based on my reading of many articles like this my sense of it is most of them are closeted men. Regarding the "maybe they're bisexual" defense, maybe so but I doubt their wives are aware of that fact and they deserve at least an idea of what their partner is up to so they can make informed decisions about their marriage and their health.

    The police DO use entrapment to catch these guys. As Dan Savage said about the Larry Craig arrest, everything that happened would have passed beneath the notice of other people in that restroom because it depended on subtle clues (the tapping of feet, etc.) which only progressed BECAUSE the cop responded to them. That doesn't mean it's right or proper, only that much of the fear-mongering by police and the media over it is over-blown. They don't cruise in the playground and no one is getting blown on the see-saw! If a man is blown in the forest and no one other than the participants is there to see/hear it, who gives a $#!t?!

    I wonder if this paper also prints the names, jobs, and addresses of those caught soliciting prostitutes? If not this report IS homophobic and intended for public shaming. Just a few years ago in a town near me a man killed himself not because he was arrested but because his name and picture had been printed in the local paper. The closest straight analog to public cruising is prostitution. The ONLY reason straight people don't "cruise" (outside of singles bars anyway) is because women won't participate for many reasons, including their own safety. The exception is if money or goods (drugs usually) changes hands, AKA prostitution.

    I'm not a supporter of public cruising but the issues are more complicated than they seem. If you think that homophobia isn't part of the motivation behind these sting operations, think again.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 26, 2012 5:42:16 PM


  4. It's also important to note to all of those people saying that these men MUST come out of the closet in this day and age is that not only closeted or ashamed men cruise parks. The internet is a different experience than a park and some people just like one better than the other.

    I don't cruise parks myself, but I do walk my dog in a park that has a history of cruisiness and I've been "cruised" there before despite my lack of interest. Does that affect me in any way? Would I be upset if I walked by people having sex there?

    no and no.

    Posted by: RandySF | Jan 26, 2012 5:54:03 PM


  5. If there is sexual activity going on in a public place within reasonable visibility of unaware other users particularly during daytime then it is appropriate for the police to observe it, perhaps film it and then take action. Where it is done late at night where there could not reasonably be expected to be any other users of the park , then it is a waste of resources arresting people. In any circumstances, sending 'attractive' young police officers to encourage and visually tempt other people to initiate a sexual suggestion verbal or physical is completely unjustified. Encouraging people to commit an offence so that you can then solve that offence is wasteful and pointless.

    Posted by: Den | Jan 26, 2012 6:00:16 PM


  6. I'm with Ricco and Caliban on this one; this is the kind of thing that leads to suicides. The only reason this should be news and this guy's face should be plastered up here is if he was actively anti-gay. I have no idea of the positions or actions of his church, and looking at their web site doesn't reveal anti-gay or rabidly aggressive activism, unless I'm missing something.

    If it's established he was out there drumming up hatred of gays, then I say "charge!"-- otherwise, this seems more sad than something to gloat about. Part of the respect for sexual differences was always supposed to come from letting different people find their own path, and if this guy wasn't anti-gay and was trying to sort out confusion or complications in his life, it seems to me sort of sick in itself to cheer on his arrest.

    If anyone can demonstrate he was an anti-gay activist, I'll feel differently. Otherwise, why add to the difficulties of someone who already seems to have problems of his own?

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Jan 26, 2012 6:08:12 PM


  7. good on you RICCO for calling KIWI out on his close-mindedness.
    but his stance has always been judgmental towards closeted people and expects everyone to be out right this moment and live the freedom he enjoys. anyone else not conducting themselves like he is in Kiwitopia has daddy issues and deserve derision.

    Posted by: Pahima | Jan 26, 2012 6:16:22 PM


  8. KIWI is assuming that all men who cruise in public spaces must be repressed closet cases. I am sure many are perfectly open out gay men who just enjoy the temptations and availability of 'fast food' al fresco sex. They can be criticised for their lack of respect for social rules, but it is wrong to assume all cruisers are repressed.

    Posted by: Den | Jan 26, 2012 6:24:42 PM


  9. How about high school kids who don't have their own place and can't afford a hotel room. Probably public sex is a problem more prevalent among heterosexuals. Following this kind of logic, we should also entrap them.

    Posted by: simon | Jan 26, 2012 6:45:50 PM


  10. Ok, I have cruised many parks, I have been in endless others and not once did I ever stumble upon any sexual activity. Would ANYONE please tell me of a time they just happened to come across two guys getting it on??? It just doesn't happen. If you don't like public sex then don't do it and unless you have seen it without searching it out first then just STFU. lemme guess.... Mr and Mrs Smith are going to be taking little Johnny out at 2am to a very secluded and seedy section of the park. Give me a break. I would like to see how many arrest would be made I'd the police weren't so Damn busy breaking the law via entrapment.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 26, 2012 6:49:49 PM


  11. I'm with KIWI. There was a time when this kind of behavior was the only real option men had, and it's a shame that so many men who are either confused about their sexuality or who are afraid to admit it that wind up in these situations, but I don't really feel like 2012 is that time anymore.

    I personally know the fear of God/family/etc can be a big hurdle to clear, but it's no secret at this point that sting operations -- regardless of your opinion of them -- happen, and getting arrested and having your name and photo in the paper is a very real possible outcome.

    Some of you are talking about having sex deep in the forest with no one around, and some are making the argument that "nobody's arresting the straights!" I can think of several parks in my region that are not deep, secluded forests, but quite simply parks with somewhat wooded areas. Children do play there and families do go there, and there are clear intended purposes for the park that have nothing to do with sex. These parks are cruisy. It's nice that some have the understanding and the discretion to go deep into the woods for their fun, but not everybody does, everywhere.

    I also have never seen straight men and women cruising a park. I'd be willing to wager that the overwhelming majority of straight people having sex in parks and forests are couples, who know eachother's names at the very least, and probably came there together. Prostitution aside (I've never seen prostitutes looking for John's in a park, I dunno), there's a difference between a heterosexual couple getting frisky in the woods and men loitering around other men, glaring at eachother and occasionally grazing or groping their crotch in what they think is a casual manner. Big difference.

    I think, as Kiwi pointed out, there's a reason that the overwhelming majority of men who get busted in these stings are over 40. It's an old relic of gay culture and I personally think it needs to go. Heteros already associate and define homosexuality by sexual acts instead of the attraction. How many times have you heard or read "What you do behind closed door is your business but don't rub it in my face" from someone heterosexual? People literally translate "I'm gay" into "I take it up the butt!" and the men cruising the parks only reinforces the idea that gay men are predatory sexaholics.

    It's interesting to me, to say the least, that in a few parts of the US and internationally this behavior is sanctioned, and maybe these guys need to go visit THOSE places or something.

    Once upon a time "Marriage" basically meant a father selling his daughter to the first worthy gentleman caller once she hit puberty. These days that is not the case. Things change. Things that were once OK like slavery are now understood not to be, and I don't see how those of you who side with the cruisers don't see that, I really don't.

    Posted by: antisaint | Jan 26, 2012 6:59:00 PM


  12. I really don't understand why this is posted -- has the pastor engaged in anti-gay preaching, or is he just another victim of police departments who have a bizarre zeal for prosecuting a few guys getting off in the bushes? How is this any different from when newspapers used to publish photos and names of gays arrested for similar offenses, essentially ruining their lives?

    Posted by: tim | Jan 26, 2012 7:08:44 PM


  13. Thank you Ricco and a few others. I too am surprised at Kiwi on this. (And where, pray, is dear Derrick?).

    I have cruised parks and enjoyed it and will do so in the future.
    I have been out for several decades.
    I have had a partner for two decades plus.
    Sometimes we like to cruise together.
    Do not project your own pathetic fantasies (provided to you mostly by straight people) onto us.

    Ricco is absolutely right that 99.9% of the time there is NO chance of any families "stumbling upon" men having sex. Nothing would turn off cruising gay men more than seeing a child or a woman approach, so they avoid anyplace they might appear.

    What happened here (and usually) is entrapment, and your outrage should be focused on that, and not on judging other gay men based on trying to live up to some heterosexual standard.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jan 26, 2012 7:26:03 PM


  14. Perhaps the reason people don't go to those parts of the park and therefor wouldn't stumble upon people having sex is BECAUSE areas have a reputation for being "cruise-y"

    I find it pretty nasty, and I'm all for arresting people. Whether cops are entrapping people who otherwise wouldn't have done such a thing is another story. But what's so hard about saying "let's take it back to my/your place?"

    Sorry, but I don't want to see people getting it on in public, and it has nothing to do whether the people are gay or straight.

    Posted by: Jack | Jan 26, 2012 7:31:30 PM


  15. "Why don't they go after the straights?"

    Lets be honest. Adult straight men and women are not regularly cruising parks and hooking up in the bushes with anonymous partners. If a woman is out there in that fashion she is most likely a working girl.

    It's 2012. There is craigslist, grindr, adam4adam, etc.

    Men having anonymous sex openly in a park only plays into the negative stereotypes that feed the homophobia that some of you site as the catalyst for this arrest.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jan 26, 2012 8:54:53 PM


  16. that's a rough looking 33

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 26, 2012 9:00:12 PM


  17. "Lets be honest. Adult straight men and women are not regularly cruising parks and hooking up in the bushes with anonymous partners."

    My home borders a public park. I have seen countless straight people shagging (they don't care about privacy). At one point I was considering putting up a condom vending machine.

    Posted by: galore | Jan 26, 2012 10:18:30 PM


  18. In or out of the closet, park sex is indefensible, period.

    Wish you would take down the link to the church's site. I don't want to see his family harmed more than they have been.

    Posted by: Joe in CT | Jan 26, 2012 11:04:18 PM


  19. Typical Christian filth. He dares to engage in illegal activity like this and crusade against us, using other people (his "family") as a facade? May he ROT in prison.

    Posted by: Sarm | Jan 26, 2012 11:35:49 PM


  20. No empathy for disgusting homos getting sex in parks. Put them all in jail!

    If someone Tries to have sex with u in a park u should be running away from that creep!

    Honestly I laugh at all the people in this thread trying to come up with an intelligent defense for this psychotic behavior.

    Have sex in your house like the rest of normal society, gay or straight. Or perhaps find a partner and have sex everyday if you want! Stop being Pervs!

    Posted by: Draek | Jan 26, 2012 11:51:56 PM



  21. "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"

    Why wouldn't I be surprised if Sheriff Judd were caught in similar "outrageous behavior" at some point in the future?

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jan 27, 2012 10:40:20 AM


  22. I have to say that Ricco and Caliban got this one right!

    To add this conversation on entrapment and sex in public, I would ask how many people here have straight friends? Straight friends that discuss their sexual encounters with them? Who has ever played "truth or dare" with a bunch of your straight friends and had the inevitable question "where's the craziest place you ever had sex" come up? (like, uh…when we were high school or college...yeah.)

    Point is, my straight friends and I are very open about these topics and we range from all walks of life. I can tell you that straight people, while maybe not prone to actual cruising, have sex in public quite often. I have heard stories that make talk of big open deserted parks at night seem like child’s play. The big picture is entrapment. People, both gay and straight, have romantic or animalistic sexual encounters at beaches, piers, forests, and, yes, parks all the time. If nudity or sexual practice is witnessed in public it is a crime and can be prosecuted. If the police are wasting time and tax dollars to bust this behavior when not witnessed it is ridiculous and probably motivated by hate and bigotry. If the police are intentionally setting up the sexual behavior just to arrest someone, that is entrapment. The question is, If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to witness it…WHO CARES!

    Posted by: DRG | Jan 27, 2012 11:29:55 AM


  23. "Have sex in your house like the rest of normal society, gay or straight. Or perhaps find a partner and have sex everyday if you want! Stop being Pervs!"

    That's the whole issue Draek! There is no such thing as "Normal Society", just one that hides behind pseudo-morality. People have sex in public all the time. Gay, Straight, committed, single, whatever…it doesn't matter. When I used to work at Barnes and Noble in high school we busted a married hetero couple that came into the stacks to have sex multiple times. Straight people also have public sex…in parks, on beaches, in day light, at night, as hook-ups, as committed love making, etc... How many movies do you see straight couple getting it on in public? More than anyone can count. If caught in the act, the charge is public indecency and fornication. Lookup the statics in your state/region/local area for this crime and you will see people from all walks of life committing it and getting caught. It’s not just cruising gay guys.

    Law Enforcement/Politicians only focus on gay cruising because of the anti-homosexual agenda and use things like this to broadcast their beliefs against it in the media. I am not one to agree with the concept of cruising for sex in public. It’s not my thing. If you get caught doing it, I say law enforcement should prosecute. There shouldn’t, however be witch hunts employing entrapment to bust specific population groups. This is no different than the frequent use of police raids on gay bars citing noise complaints/over-capacity and not doing the same for hetero-bars with the same violations in the same area. Wake up people.

    Posted by: DRG | Jan 27, 2012 2:17:41 PM


  24. reality check: if you're struggling with accepting yourself as a gay man, or a man with sexual attractions to other males, you're not going to find that support in a PUBLIC BATHROOM.

    this is not a story about illiterate gay teens who don't know what they're doing. this is about GROWN ADULT MALES.

    in 2012. In America.

    If you're struggling with accepting yourself as a gay man, and you're afraid to Come Out because of "what might happen", then i have to wonder what convinces one to take the RISK of getting busted in a public bathroom. genuinely.

    and to make my point more clear to RICCO - i, and anyone else, can't help and SUPPORT these men if they refuse to want support. they're not gonna find support systems at the URINALS.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 27, 2012 2:25:34 PM


  25. Hold on Little Kiwi. On a very important level, accepting one's self as a gay man means, on a fundamental level, that your attraction to the same sex is expressed (though not exclusively) as sucking c**k and fu**ing butt. This form of valid human expression and communication is key to one being homosexual, n'est-ce pas?

    Posted by: Modern Meet | Jan 27, 2012 2:53:08 PM


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