Louisiana Police Target, Arrest Gay Men

The Baton Rouge Advocate has published a distressing exposé which reveals that gay men have been arrested by police in Louisiana for simply agreeing to consensual sex. The Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has performed these undercover stings since 2011. The men have been charged, detained and, in some occasions, fined under the state's old sodomy laws which were invalidated when the U.S. Supreme ruled on Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.

The piece reveals: "There had been no sex-for-money deal between the two. The men did not agree to have sex in the park, a public place. And the count against the man was based on a part of Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago."

The District Attorney has not pursued any of the cases:

BatonrougeDistrict Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office refused to prosecute each one of the cases because his assistants found no crime had occurred. After inquiries from the newspaper last week, he arranged to meet with Sheriff’s Office investigators to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.

Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, denied that investigators had been misapplying the anti-sodomy law, which remains among the state’s criminal statutes.

“This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature,” Hicks said. “Whether the law is valid is something for the courts to determine, but the sheriff will enforce the laws that are enacted.”

Moore noted that public sex acts and the solicitation of “unnatural carnal copulation” for money remain illegal. But those elements were lacking from these 12 cases, and most of the men were arrested after agreeing to have sex away from the park at a private residence.

“The Sheriff’s Office’s intentions are all good,” Moore said. “But from what I’ve seen of these cases, legally, we found no criminal violation.”

As Think Progress points out, no crimes are being committed:

Manchac Park, where the stings have largely taken place, has been known as a place where “cruising” for anonymous sex takes place, but neither talking about sex nor agreeing to sex are violations of obscenity laws.

When Lawrence was decided, then-Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub issued a statement asserting that the state’s anti-sodomy law could not be enforced, except in cases of prostitution and bestiality. Still, the law remains on the books, as it does in many other states.

The most recent arrest occurred on July 18.

Comments

  1. anthony says

    It “seems” to me that IF the LGBT community and it’s friends have funds to file—again what seems to me a whole lot of lawsuits against these kinds of laws as WELL as SSM…

    The States are going need to also raise funds to defend lawsuits and possible also supply damages to the plaintive.

    So insane.—but such an environment we live in. Let these STATES just waste there money….LIKE the Republicans 3.3 Mil(?) against DOMA

    THANK the higher powers that my husband and I live in a STATE that approves of SSM.

  2. throwslikeagirl says

    I completely agree, Plaintom. Horrible bigots enjoying themselves at the expense of other humans. Entrapment is ugly. Since often these men are closeted and married, many lives can be ruined. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

  3. Jay says

    Stories like this make me ashamed to live in the state of Louisiana. I hope that Lambda Legal or private attorneys for the men who were unconstitutionally arrested will sue for big damages. That is the only thing the hick sheriff’s office in Baton Rouge will understand.

  4. Michael Hampton says

    I wrote to Ms. Hicks and expressed my disgust with what happened and her statements.

    Here is her response:

    In light of the article in today’s paper, the Sheriff’s Office feels the need to issue a statement in response. The statement is as follows:

    The Sheriff’s Office has not, nor will it ever, set out with the intent to target or embarrass any part of our law-abiding community. Our goal is to Protect and Serve the public. When we receive calls from the public about lewd activity near our children, we have to respond. Our park operations, conducted at the specific request of the BREC Park’s Ranger, were an attempt to deter or stop lewd activity occurring in the park near children. The deputies in the cases were acting in good faith using a statute that was still on the books of the Louisiana criminal code. The deputies used a statute that they felt fit the situation in order to remedy the concerns of the parents and park officials. The deputies presented sworn affidavits of probable cause, a set of circumstances that would lead a normal person to believe that a crime has been committed or will be committed, to judges for review. In the cases we have reviewed, the judges set bond, in effect concurring that there was probable cause for arrest. To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable.

    In hindsight, however, we feel we should have taken a different approach. We will consult with others in the legislative and judicial branches to see what can be done to remove this law from the criminal code that each deputy receives and to also find alternative ways to deter sexual and lewd activity from our parks.

    We want to reiterate our intent in these cases. It was NEVER to target a certain segment of our population. It was only in response to parents, park officials and members of the public concerned that our parks were not safe. When we receive reports of public masturbation, sex and other lewd activity in a park where children are playing, me MUST take these concerns seriously. Our intent was honorable, our approach, however, is something we must evaluate and change. The Sheriff’s Office is not concerned with what consenting adults do in private residences. We are concerned with what is going on in public, especially a public place frequented by children. In light of new information, we feel that we need to work with our deputies to provide them with better resources and training to deal with these issues in more appropriate ways. It is very important to us that the public understands our intent and agenda was safety and never prejudiced toward any group.

  5. Michael Hampton says

    Here was my response to her:

    Thank you for your response. While I understand your position, I also have been a victim of persecution at the hands of people who were “just trying to protect children.” Often, people who see a gay couple in public will feel threatened for no reason due to their own personal prejudices. Sometimes, they will call the police and exaggerate what they saw or heard in order to get the police to come and make them feel safe from the LGBT couple that is most likely holding hands or showing affection in the same way that straight couples show affection. I feel that in this case, you chose to take the word of someone who exaggerated what they saw and then used the outdated and unconstitutional laws that are still on Louisiana books in order to show the straight families who called a show of force.

    Please remedy this situation. Remove that law. It is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

    I enjoy spending time in Louisiana. But I will not spend time or money in a state that doesn’t want me there.

  6. Vint says

    @Michael Hampton: you wrote an excellent and persuasive response to her.

    While removing the law is something that ought to be done, the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have to wait for that to happen to address the situation: they need simply to instruct their deputies that the law is unconstitutional, and that attempts to enforce an unconstitutional law—that is, attempts to violate the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens—will be met with disciplinary action.

  7. Paul R says

    It’s not especially reassuring that the sheriff’s office needs to be told which laws are enforceable.

    And “The Sheriff’s Office’s intentions are all good” sounds very much like a comment from a DA scared of the sheriff. Someone clearly has an agenda, or the sheriff’s office wouldn’t spend so much time in its response denying that one exists.

  8. bobbyjoe says

    Dear Ms. Hicks:

    If there were parents and children standing in the private living room or bedrooms of the men who invited the under-cover officers home, please clap those parent and children into handcuffs immediately on the grounds of breaking-and entering and criminal trespass. Otherwise, please kindly go f— yourself.

    Sincerely,

    A Concerned Citizen

  9. Steve says

    LA also has a long history of using that law against transgender prostitutes. They force them to register as sex offenders, which makes it even harder to find regular work and them even more likely to engage in sex work.

  10. bobat says

    I’m sort surprised people still cruise parks and the like in this day and age.

    Though if they didn’t, I’m sure this sheriffs department would be on grindr entrapping guys.

  11. Billy Crytical says

    It’s all about getting felonies on these gay men’s records so they are pushed to the margins of society because they can’t find good work.

  12. BobV says

    Must be a truly benighted and backward place to live. But remember, cruising in public places is generally the behavior of the most closeted persons, and they are those most likely to want to avoid prosecution and least likely to identify with the gay community. They are therefore very vulnerable and suffer from the closet without being fully aware of how much.

  13. WCT says

    So glad I left that cesspool of a town called Baton Rouge…..the only reason I return is because of my elderly and accepting father and New Orlleans.

  14. Fred says

    Mexicans are everywhere, LOL, what relevancy to this story is THAT ?

    I find it hard to accept that none of the people lured have failed to sue.

    Now, on the other hand, if the dept is to be believed, they were doing what they are charged with doing – responding to numerous complaints about men soliciting sex with men in public parks.

    So yeah, on one hand I think the Sheriff’s Dept. is messed up, but on the other hand, why is it that out of so many people falsely arrested, nobody’s suing ?

    Yeah, there’s more to this story than just the typical gay media outrage hack job.

    Look, if you’re going to go to the public park for the thrill of the danger of coming on to strangers, you kind of deserve whatever happens to you. That’s not homophobic, and it’s not part of any sein persons gay identity to just accept trolling parks as something not indicative of issues that need to be worked out in therapy.

  15. throwslikeagirl says

    Well played, Mr. Hampton. VERY well played. Thank you for taking immediate positive action.
    I’m sure there were a few idiots who were masturbating and/or otherwise engaging in lewd conduct. Yes, they should be arrested. That’s not a gay issue. But the boldfaced entrapment by a cop, who may also have been rubbing his crotch to encourage a solicitation, is disgusting. There is NOTHING illegal about talking to someone and inviting them over to one’s house, however otherwise dangerous that may be. It is not lewd conduct and no one who isn’t involved would be privy to the intent, especially a child. The response to Mr. Hampton’s missive has CYA legalese written all over it and is a load of crap.

  16. Kevin says

    Fred,propably because many of them are in the closet.
    And even if they aren’t,it is humilating to be charged under this,which is what they are counting on.
    You will be putting your life out there for people to judge and many simply don’t want to go through that.

  17. Bill Perdue says

    Not surprising given the fact that Democrat Senator Mary Landreiu is a major bigot enabler. ”

    Sen. Mary Landrieu: I Support Gay Marriage Personally NOT Publically, I Might Get Voted Out Of Office – “Landrieu told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta in an interview Friday that she personally believes “people should love who they love and marry who they want to marry,” but that her obligation rests with the people of Louisiana who elected her. “My state has a very strong constitutional amendment not only against gay marriage but against gay partnerships. So I’m looking at the people of Louisiana trying to represent their interests” http://www.back2stonewall.com/

    Like Obama in 2008, this kind bigot enableing promts the discriminaiton, harassment, violence and even murder that we face, and not just in Louisiiana.

    Add to that the fact that Baton Rouge is the home of ‘kill the gays’ pentecostal preacher Jimmy Swaggart and you’ve got a hotbed of bigotry.

    “I get amazed, I can’t look at it but about 10 seconds, at these politicians dancing around this, dancing around this, I’m trying to find a correct name for it, this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men.” (shouts from crowd)

    “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry.” (shouts, applause) “And I’m gonna be blunt and plain, if one ever looks at me like that I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.” (laughter, applause) “In case anybody doesn’t know, God calls it an abomnation (sic). It’s an abomnation (sic)! It’s an abomnation (sic)!” (applause)

    “These ridiculous, utterly absurd district attorneys and judges and state congress and ‘well, we don’t know’… they ought to, they ought to, they ought to have to marry a pig and live with them forever.” (laughter) “I’m not knocking the poor homosexual, I’m not. They need salvation just like anybody else. I’m knocking our pitiful, pathetic lawmakers. And I thank God that President Bush has stated,” (applause) “we need a Constitutional amendment that states that marriage is between a man and a woman.” (applause)

    http://www.spike.com/video-clips/e9nl1z/jimmy-swaggart-would-kill-a-homosexual – there’s an ad before the video, it goes away.

  18. johnny says

    Agree whole-heartedly with this:

    “Look, if you’re going to go to the public park for the thrill of the danger of coming on to strangers, you [TOTALLY] deserve whatever happens to you. That’s not homophobic, and it’s not part of any sane persons gay identity to accept trolling parks as something not indicative of issues that need to be worked out in therapy.”

    It’s 2013, people. There are bars and all kinds of online sources to meet guys. It’s time to get out of the bushes. You never see women cruising parks to meet other women.

    Ever wonder why?

  19. Rick says

    New York has been overrun by Canadians. You’d think that instead of enforcing unconstitutional stop & frisk laws against law-abiding African-American youths, the NYPD would be deporting Canadians here illegally.

  20. says

    Except, Fred and Johnny, this story isn’t about men having sex in the bushes. You’re reading into it and judging something that isn’t part of this story. None of these men were having sex in the park. They were entrapped by a Sheriff’s office who was using an unconstitutional law to target gay men. Talking about sex in a park is free speech. Having sex in private is not illegal. Entrapping people for doing these things IS clearly illegal. Whether some men have sex in bushes (or via Internet or bar hookups) is not relevant to this case. That’s the irrational leap in logic the Sheriff’s department is trying, unsuccessfully, to pull off. They have no legal legs to stand on.

    @FRED: As for why these men didn’t sue or stand up for themselves–they are likely closeted, and closeted people are weakened by the closet, hiding in shame. Pitiable but it’s also not illegal to be closeted.

  21. Mark Twain says

    The JUDGES seem also totally out of wack or are part of the problem ( they don’t know which law has been deemed inconstitutionnal by SCOTUS). Seems they have elected politician incompetent corrupt judges in Louisiana? What about nice revocation petitions for incompetence? There may be some statute about his….

  22. MateoM says

    @Fred & Johnny: “Look, if you’re going to go to the public park for the thrill of the danger of coming on to strangers, you [TOTALLY] deserve whatever happens to you.”

    A public park as opposed to a bar? Or the dairy aisle? (Some of my hottest hookups have come from 6AM Mass.) Sorry but your mentality is both homophobic AND self-loathing.

    The problem, of course, is that ‘coming on’ to a stranger isn’t illegal, and the undercover officers involved did not allege that they observed any illegal acts. The bigger problem, of course, is that they use this as a pretext for targeting gay men exclusively, even as they deny that they’re doing it.

    The problem isn’t that a law is being broken by some gay men–no one’s even alleging that. The problem is that the U.S. Constitution is being willfully and intentionally violated by government officials, and that’s a helluva lot more serious issue.

  23. rob vukovic says

    Louisiana has fifth-highest crime rate, third highest poverty rate in nation, studies show
    Posted by Tom Aswell on November 1, 2012

    BATON ROUGE—Louisiana had the fifth-highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2011, according to the FBI’s latest statistics, which link the rate with the state’s poverty rate, third-highest in the U.S.

    Nationally, violent crimes in the U.S. fell for the fifth straight year. The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 population dropped from 403.6 per 100,000 in 2010 to 386.3 last year.

    Louisiana’s crime rate in 2011 was 555.3. The state’s property crime rate per 100,000 was 3,688.5, third highest in the nation.

    Louisiana ranked high among all states for a host of crimes, the report said. It had the highest murder rate in the U.S. (11.2 per 100,000), the fifth-highest rate of aggravated assault (401.9), sixth-highest in burglary, second-highest in larceny and the highest rate of incarceration in the nation.

    As of July 2012, New Orleans had the highest murder rate per capita of all major U.S. cities.

    Louisiana had 204 percent of its citizens living below the poverty line in 2011, third-highest in the nation and the 17.5 percent with less than a high school education was fourth-highest in the U.S., the report indicate

  24. anon says

    It would be important to have a judge clear out the arrest record, though it might end up on a private credit report or something. You could also sue in civil court for illegal arrest, but I doubt a lawyer will take your case.

  25. Bill says

    It’s possible the sheriff is technically telling the truth. What probably happened is that someone complained about lewd behavior in the park, justifiably or not, and the sheriff simply assigned someone to handle the problem, not realizing that “catch the guys pulling down their pants in public” would be turned into “arrest anyone who doesn’t run away yelling for help.”

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