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LGBT Activist Calls Out Houston Police Sting Operation

Veteran LGBT activist Ray Hill tells Houston's OutSmart magazine that more than 20 men arrested in Memorial Park last Thursday and charged with solicitation of prostitution were targeted in a sting operation:

HillHill, who said he has been in contact with one of the men arrested, explained that eight to ten male vice officers dressed in Speedos and suggestive T-shirts, were along the jogging trail during daylight hours, attempting to beckon male joggers and walkers into the bushes. “[My source] tells me that one of their shirts had what resembled a chrome pnis on the back, and some of the other T-shirts looked to be gay pride affiliated,” Hill said.

Any individuals who responded to the officers’ calls and followed them into the bushes were automatically presumed to be looking for a sexual encounter, were handcuffed, and arrested, Hill said.

A second group of officers was possibly located by the men’s restrooms as well, Hill said. “This was definitely a sting operation,” he said. “I’ve called it worse than that. It was literally seducing people into arrest.”

The men arrested were then rounded up and put into two different vans parked nearby, Hill said.

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  1. If people can identify who the police officers were, then their names and pictures should be posted online so that people will recognise these evil scumbags.

    Posted by: MaryM | Aug 8, 2013 11:22:02 AM


  2. Why does Andy keep posting stories like this on this site like we're supposed to be outraged? These men deserve to get arrested, the same way straight men who get arrested by undercover female officers in prostitution stings deserve to get arrested. How is this any different and how is it discrimantory?

    Note to gay men: stop cruising parks and getting caught in these embarassing situations.

    Posted by: WHATWHAT | Aug 8, 2013 11:29:40 AM


  3. I don't understand why police time and resources are being put towards the entrapment of gay men like this in the fourth largest city in the country? There are countless crimes that law enforcement aren't stupidly initializing themselves by whoring it up in a public park that need to be dealt with.

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 8, 2013 11:30:04 AM


  4. if the gay men of the area would stop meeting in parks and restroom for sex this wouldn't be a problem.

    Stop blaming the Cops for doing their jobs, and stop having sex in parks and restroom and any other place public..

    Posted by: snt | Aug 8, 2013 11:41:50 AM


  5. I have bailed out more than one of my slutty friends for being in the park where the bike path is......you have to be an idiot to go there it's the cops favorite place to arrest people.

    Posted by: dards | Aug 8, 2013 11:47:02 AM


  6. @ JMC,

    thank you. It's ridiculous. If a Gay-bashing occured in the park during their entrapment exercises they wouldn't arrest the bashers.

    Hey, wouldn't it be something if the decoy cops dressed in speedos got Gay-bashed by some thugs.

    Posted by: Derrick from Phill | Aug 8, 2013 11:56:58 AM


  7. because Houston is famously known for having such a shockingly low violent-crime rate, and it's a fact that the biggest issue in Houston is gay men meeting for sex.

    *facepalm*

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Aug 8, 2013 12:00:16 PM


  8. THe issue here is entrapment, which is unconstitutional.

    It's one thing if the men approached and propositioned the officers (which is still legal), and then tried to have sex in the park, but if the officers offered sex, in the park, that's entrapment.

    Posted by: SPOT | Aug 8, 2013 12:00:19 PM


  9. Sorry, Ray Hill, you are wasting your time if you think that gay people are going to rise up in defense of furtive, loveless, anonymous sex in public parks. Why does a self-described gay activist go the mat defending debased conduct that imperils gay people in multiple ways.

    In the 1940s-60s, gay people had no options other than to meet in this way. It was a miserable existence. There is no need for it now and no excuse or defense should be offered for the men who engage in it.

    Posted by: Seth | Aug 8, 2013 12:07:43 PM


  10. Who cares don't try and get a whore it's that simple and def don't have sex in public is trashy and illegal do it in your own home it's that simple.

    Posted by: Lee | Aug 8, 2013 12:12:07 PM


  11. @Spot:

    Wrong. That is not entrapment. Police are allowed to offer. What they can't do is persist in offering or otherwise pressure a target after the target has refused the offer. The line is crossed not when a proposal is made, but when the police engage in a pattern of conduct that induces a target, who is not initially disposed, into committing a crime.

    There is absolutely nothing in this story to suggest that there was entrapment.

    Posted by: Marc | Aug 8, 2013 12:12:44 PM


  12. Hey, Whatwhat, when police start having hot women in bikinis lure straight men into having sex then it will not be news anymore.

    Until then, figure out the difference.

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 8, 2013 12:15:36 PM


  13. "How is this any different and how is it discrimantory?"

    Well, to be arrested for straight prostitution, at least in most jurisdictions, you have to agree to PAY.

    Posted by: BobN | Aug 8, 2013 12:26:35 PM


  14. Wow, the outrage from posters against gays having sex in parks and public restrooms is amazing. Times have really changed.

    It is comforting to know that Houston indeed has such a low crime rate that resources can be devoted to operations like this one. What say you Mayor Annise Parker?

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Aug 8, 2013 12:43:45 PM


  15. "Hey, Whatwhat, when police start having hot women in bikinis lure straight men into having sex then it will not be news anymore."

    Uhhhh... they do undercover sting work with straight men as well. Ever heard of a prostitution sting? They happen quite frequently, do a google search. Undercover female officers dress as prostitutes and solicit a john.

    Yes, I understand that with a prostitue you pay BOBN, I'm not an idiot. But the fact of the matter is, an illegal sex act is an illegal sex act. Whether that's based on the exchange of cash or whether it's based on illegal public sex, who cares. These men are breaking the law and are getting busted in the same way straight people get busted. I have no sympathy for them.

    Posted by: WHATWHAT | Aug 8, 2013 12:59:22 PM


  16. Yup, Hadenoughbs, times really HAVE changed.

    For the better!

    We no longer need to hide in parks and bushes and back alleys to meet men. There are literally hundreds of websites and bars and bath houses and coffee houses that cater to gay men.

    I feel absolutely ZERO pity for any gay man that wants to have sex in a public park, day or night. Those men are fools.

    Posted by: johnny | Aug 8, 2013 1:01:24 PM


  17. "Yes, I understand that with a prostitue you pay BOBN, I'm not an idiot. But the fact of the matter is, an illegal sex act is an illegal sex act. Whether that's based on the exchange of cash or whether it's based on illegal public sex, who cares. These men are breaking the law and are getting busted in the same way straight people get busted. I have no sympathy for them."

    In straight prostitution stings, the agreement to pay is what makes them illegal. You seem to be saying that public sex is illegal so these men should be arrested. But what's the trigger? What's the proof? Following someone into the bushes is not illegal activity. Talking to someone in the bushes is not illegal activity. The police are arresting people on assumptions. That's not legal.

    Posted by: BobN | Aug 8, 2013 1:06:14 PM


  18. @Mark:

    The reason police don't send bikini-clad female undercover officers into parks to offer free hookups is because no target would take that bait. That isn't the way men and women hook up, unless money is involved. Which is why there are plenty of scantily clad female undercover cops posing as prostitutes, but none as park-goers seeking free, anonymous public sex. The police mimic the actual criminal scenario in order to catch offenders.


    @BobN:

    In asserting that the police were arresting men based on a mere assumption that they were going to have sex in public, you are relying on the claims of Ray Hill. I don't think he is an objective source of information. The police have been doing stings like this for many, many years and have procedures set up to ensure that arrests don't take place until the suspects make some overt statement or action confirming their intent to engage in public sex. If it comes out that the police failed to do that in this case, then the cases should be dismissed. But I wouldn't assume that the police screwed up their sting on the say-so of Ray Hill.

    Posted by: Dave | Aug 8, 2013 1:33:41 PM


  19. @Dave: I remember once, quite a few years ago, reading about the police at a nearby university rounding up people in a restroom in an attempt to stamp out sexual activity there. It was something like 10 arrests and 8 were released after being carted off to jail with no charges filed.

    In other words, they arrested 8 presumably innocent people to catch 2 who might have been guilty (no idea how it turned out). They could get away with it because they knew people would be embarrassed to even be caught, making a lawsuit for false arrest unlikely.

    I remember the incident because I had walked by that restroom quite a few times, had no idea it was a hookup spot, and could imagine myself having gone in for the first time to use it for its intended purpose and ending up arrested as a result. That's repression.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 8, 2013 1:56:28 PM


  20. Not fighting the charges is cowardice.

    Trolling the parks for sex is gross and pathetic.

    Park and bathroom sex is a cheap thrill for some people. They shouldn't be prosecuted, they should get some counseling.

    That having been said, I've been sitting in my car at a park before on a Sunday morning, mining my own business eating breakfast and reading the paper (back when I still occasionally ate junk food), and been harassed by a cop who took great interest in me.

    When I made it clear that I wouldn't tolerate being pestered and ordered to move, when I have a perfect right to BE there, and that I was simply NOT going to back down, and took a note pad out of my pocket and documented the date, time, his name, etcetera, he reluctantly and somewhat angrily left.

    Choosing to make yourself a target, and accepting it, is a symptom of a problem as serious as the cops creating false charges and wasting resources harassing the public when they should be doing their job.

    Posted by: BabyCakes | Aug 8, 2013 2:22:04 PM


  21. snt: The arrested men have their part of guilt, but frankly, european police just don't do that.
    I understand entrapment of mafias and drug dealer, but i will never understand using male and female cops to make other people commit a crime (a crime that they will not commit if the cops weren't tempted them in the first place).

    Posted by: jjose712 | Aug 8, 2013 2:22:30 PM


  22. Many commenters seem to be responding more to the old-fashioned "dirtiness" of park encounters, maybe as opposed to "clean" online hookups.

    This is about homophobia and entrapment. These cops aren't dressing up their sexiest female cops in hot little numbers (not prostitution-wear, since this isn't about money) and sending them into clubs and bars to lure men into bathrooms to be arrested (illegal but unenforced in many localities.)

    It's just a matter of time before we're chatting online to undercover cops, or worse, hooking up with minors on grindr in the next sting, "presumably" for sex. I don't think most cops make a fine distinction here -- if you're gay, it's probably criminal.

    Posted by: Rich | Aug 8, 2013 2:29:18 PM


  23. Not for nothing, but any sensible person would never go off into the woods or bushes with a total stranger unless it was to get laid. I wouldn't say it's "entrapment." Go have sex indoors like a person rather than a feral cat, if for nothing else then to respect other patrons in the park. Otherwise it's implying that as a community we simply CAN'T say no to these situations, and sorry, but I respect my boyfriend more than that.

    Posted by: JY | Aug 8, 2013 2:31:28 PM


  24. In my twenties, I had sex with my boyfriend in the woods -- for any lapsed Catholics, I'm considering handjobs and blowjobs as sex here ;)

    We were respectfully careful no one saw us. It was exciting and fun at the time. I wouldn't do it now -- bugs, sharp twigs, and all that are overrated. It's one of those things that seem sexier before you actually do them, like shower sex.

    I still respected my boyfriend just as much after that.

    Posted by: Rich | Aug 8, 2013 3:06:47 PM


  25. @Dave - I'm glad you have such faith in the police "procedures" to ensure that no arrest occurs until a solicitation for illegal activity occurs. That worked so well in East Baton Rouge, after all.

    Pending more details, there's nothing here to suggest the men arrested had agreed, asked, or offered to pay for anything. Maybe they thought they were going into the bushes to make out and then head back to someone's house if they wanted more -- which would be absolutely legal.

    Posted by: JamesInCA | Aug 8, 2013 4:20:27 PM


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