The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s department has offered an apology in response to a firestorm of criticism after a local paper’s investigation found they had illegally arrested at least 12 gay men over a two year period, merely for having sex — or even for making a date. No crimes by the 12 men were committed, and in some or all of the cases the police had set up a sting operation that included cops soliciting the men for sex. In none of the arrests did charges include sex for money, or public sex. Sex between consenting adults of any gender is not illegal unless in exchange for money, or in public.
All the arrests were made of only gay men, under a Louisiana law that became unconstitutional a decade ago under the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas, which effectively made “sodomy” legal throughout the nation.
“An undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy was staking out Manchac Park about 10 a.m. one day this month when a slow-moving sedan pulling into the parking lot caught his attention,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reported:
The deputy parked alongside the 65-year-old driver and, after denying being a cop, began a casual conversation that was electronically monitored by a backup team nearby.
As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature.
The Sheriff’s department’s official statement, obtained by The New Civil Rights Movement, is included below, and says Sheriff Sid Gautreaux‘s Office will not use these unconstitutional sections of the law in future cases.”
But their official statement is far different from the one made by the Department on their Facebook page. That statement, shockingly, was deleted during the writing of this article. Here is a screenshot of Google having crawled that statement:
(Update: Think Progress also quoted from the now-deleted Facebook statement.)
In their now-deleted Facebook statement, the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s office claimed that their intentions were “honorable,” even though they wholly mischaracterized the arrests as “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,” the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office Facebook statement claimed.
“We want to reiterate our intent in these cases. It was NEVER to target a certain segment of our population,” it said, adding, “our intent and agenda was safety and never prejudiced toward any group.”
The statement, again, now deleted, repeatedly made claims like:
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.
Amazingly, the statement added:
To our knowledge, the Sheriff’s office was never contacted or told that the law was not enforceable or prosecutable.
Which seems beyond believable, especially since the D.A. dropped the charges in all cases and refused to prosecute any of the men.
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