Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Judge Rules "Entrapment" in Fort Lauderdale's Sex Sting

Earlier this year we told you about the unfairly entrappent of sex stings in Fort Lauderdales "Holiday Park" area and it looks like Judge Gary Cowart agrees and dimissed the charges against Michael Marsh. This ruling sets a good foundation for a class action lawsuit for all the unfair entrappent against the police and debunks Homophobic Mayor Naugle’s claim that gay men are committing sex acts in public parks.

Judge Gary Cowart dismissed the charges against Michael Marsh, a Fort Lauderdale man who was encountered undercover Fort Lauderdale officer Nick Coffin Aug. 20 near the baseball fields of Holiday Park.

The park has been under surveillance by police sting operations that target public sex and drug use there. Mayor Jim Naugle has used the arrests there as a platform for his comments against gay cruising in parks and public bathrooms.

According to Judge Cowart’s ruling, Coffin steered the conversation with Marsh toward sex, telling Marsh “I’m a bottom, I like the guys to be on top.”

Coffin repeatedly asked Marsh “what are you working with,” to which Marsh opened the passenger door of Coffin’s vehicle and exposed his penis and groped Coffin’s crotch.

Coffin then asked Marsh to “hop in,” but Marsh refused. He agreed to follow Coffin to an apartment nearby. As he drove out the park Coffin could be heard telling other officers over a cell phone that he could get Marsh for prostitution.

When the men arrive at the apartment Coffin asks Marsh for money for sex. Marsh refuses, saying that he is unemployed. However officers arrested Marsh, charging him with prostitution, indecent exposure and battery.

“This court finds that the defendant was entrapped as a matter of law,” Cowart wrote in his decision. “The defendant proved that he was induced by officer Coffin to commit these acts.”

“It sends the message to the community that the mayor was misleading citizens into thinking that gay men were responsible for illicit conduct in parks,” Kent said. “When all the unlawful activity was done by law enforcement officers.”

Kent has notified the city of his intent to sue and Marsh will likely be the lead plaintiff. However, he said, it is difficult to find men who qualify because most plead out in court, thus waiving their right to sue.

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