LA Sheriff Still Arresting for Sodomy

LA Sheriff Still Arresting for Sodomy August 2, 2013

Ten years ago the Supreme Court struck down state laws against sodomy in Lawrence v Texas, but word of that ruling seems not to have reached Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sheriff there is still arresting people under that law even though the local prosecutor won’t press charges.

Police officers from the Sheriff’s office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana have made at least a dozen arrests of gay men since 2011 using an anti-sodomy law despite it being struck down ten years ago.

Arrests have been made as recently as July, with gay men being charged with “attempted crimes against nature” for discussing having consensual sex in a private place with an undercover police officer.

The most recent was made on 18 July when a deputy sheriff approached a 65-year-old man in a car, denied being a police officer, and after moving to a park bench, discussed having “some drinks and some fun”, at his apartment…

According to the report, District Attorney Hillar Moore III, said his office had not prosecuted in any of the cases, because it had found that no crime had been committed.

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

The prosecutor is apparently going to meet with the sheriff to make sure they understand the law.

Update: The sheriff has now apologized and said his office will no longer enforce this law:

On Monday, Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux III issued a statement apologizing “to anyone that was unintentionally harmed or offended by the actions of our investigations.” The sheriff said that he had instructed his employees to no longer use “this unconstitutional law,” and that he was conducting “a comprehensive evaluation of undercover operations made by our deputies and will make changes to ensure better supervision, training and guidance.”

So was he just clueless all this time? Or didn’t he care?

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  • CaitieCat

    Didn’t give a shit, saw a chance to publicly humiliate and maybe even jail gay men, took it, got spanked by county council or whoever his employers are, and made the public perp walk so he could keep his job.

  • eric

    Subtext of statement: “I was not aware up until this time that my actions were creating a public, politicial liability to some in the DA’s office who may seek political office in the future. I sincerely apologize to them. I’m sorry I was caught and that my being caught reflected poorly on you. From now on, the officers under my watch will use more subtle ways to be bigots so that our actions cannot be plausibly traced back to you.”

  • machintelligence

    It sure sounds like malfeasance in office to me. What happened to the concept that ignorance of the law is no excuse? Does it not apply to those who enforce the law?

  • flatlander100

    I lived in Baton Rouge for 31 years. I’ll go with clueless.

  • CaitieCat

    That’s so cute, machintelligence. Police don’t follow laws, they lead laws. Since they don’t have to follow them, it’s not illegal when they do it. Cf. evictions of the wrong homes, breaking and entering and threatening with guns and killing pets at houses they didn’t mean to raid, people killed by foolish cops starting high-speed pursuits over nothing, people killed by tasers, defenceless men shot in the back while lying on the ground under a pile of cops, warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, “enhanced interrogation”, stop’n’frisk, et c., et c., et c..

    Gotta fight them tare-ists with both hands free, right? Can’t let ’em achieve their aim of not taking into account the weight of the container. It’s anti-American.

  • exdrone

    The Sheriff’s Office’s intentions are all good

    Which one? The intention to shame gays, the intention to enforce a law that is not on the books, or the intention to entrap innocent people?

  • highdudgeonaz

    The Sheriff’s Office’s intentions are all good,” said Moore.

    Selective enforcement of so-called “morality laws” based on rampant homophobia is not “good.” It is, in fact, the very opposite of good.

  • Hanlon’s razor. Never attribute to a conspiracy that which can be explained by incompetence.

  • Somehow I don’t think they had female undercover cops offering straight dudes hummers and busting them the last decade.

  • culuriel

    I vote didn’t care!

  • D. C. Sessions

    What happened to the concept that ignorance of the law is no excuse? Does it not apply to those who enforce the law?

    On the contrary, it’s a job requirement.

  • To top it off, even if the law were still valid, the guy didn’t violate it. Talking about sodomy, especially in vague terms like “having fun” never was illegal.

  • Also, this was textbook entrapment.

  • Synfandel

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

    District Attorney Hillar Moore III should look again. The criminal violation is obvious. The Sheriff’s Office is practising entrapment.

  • howardhershey

    Well, he could just go to having the undercover officer offer to have sex in a public bathroom in a park (which is illegal in most jurisdictions) rather than in the privacy of a home. Of course, he should then also have a female undercover make the same offer to straight men… just to be fair. It’s entrapment in both cases, but what the hell. At least it wouldn’t be targeting on sexual orientation grounds. Wanna bet there are a lot of straight guys who would take the offer of sodomy on public property? He could really up his arrest records by being unbiased.

  • bobcarroll

    Kevin@8 Isn’t that *Heinlein’s* razor?

  • DaveL

    We seriously need an update to the Civil Rights Act. The current definition for “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law” doesn’t cover sexual orientation (or apparently, even religion).

  • timberwoof

    Here’s the real harm: Even though the Sherriff had to apologize and even though charges were dropped, the arrests are still on the records of the men he entrapped. When job applications ask, “Were you ever arrested?” they must answer “Yes: Crimes Against Nature. Stature was out of date and charges were dropped.” So they’re fucked.

    If they don’t, then the criminal background check will report that information. So they’re fucked for lying.

    There needs to be lawsuit that extracts tons of money and expunges the criminal records. The sheriff needs to be arrested and jailed for malfeasance, assuming it’s a crime for LEOs in LA.

  • @timberwoof: No, what really needed is a general law against using arrests against people who weren’t charged with anything, much less convicted.

  • zbeeblebrox

    And the DA’s name is Moore. Hmmm.

  • lepto

    Obvious bigot abusing his position of authority to unlawfully deprive individuals of their liberty. The sheriff and the arresting officers should be the subject of a Dept. of Justice investigation.

  • steve84

    There is also the fact that pillorying is very common in the US. Often people’s mugshots and even what they were arrested for is plastered all over the news.

  • sivivolk

    Also this has been going on for years – the prosecutor should have done this after the first case, not just when it started making news. The prosecutor’s partly to blame here, too.

    And yeah, the men who’ve been arrested are due both money and personal apologies.