Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tippecanoe Sex Sting Nets 17

The Tippecanoe Sheriff's department, the Kokomo Police Department and the Indiana State Police deployed 16 law enforcement officers during a 2-day sex sting operation carried out at two area parks to nab 17 men for sex-related offenses. The sting nabbed men of all ages from 21 to 82. The sting even caught up a civilian member of the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's department. The Lafayette Journal and Courier reports:

Kokomo police assisted the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department during a two-day operation at Tecumseh Trails and Davis Ferry parks -- sites long-rumored to be destinations for anonymous, sexual hookups.

Those arrested are suspected of exposing themselves to or inappropriately touching undercover detectives.

But the sheriff's department received its own blow when one of the suspects turned out to be a long-standing member of its merit board -- the five-member civilian group in charge of hiring, firing and promoting deputies.

Sheriff Smokey Anderson said he has asked Charles "Bob" Best, 69, of rural Lafayette, to resign after the man was found to be among those arrested. Best, who was elected by deputies, has served on the board for more than 20 years.

Other suspects include employees of Greater Lafayette Health Services, the Tippecanoe School Corp. and Purdue University, according to booking reports.

Though most suspects are from the Lafayette area, one listed his address as Naples, Fla. and another in suburban Chicago. Their ages ranged from 21 to 82.

The Sheriff's department says it undertook the sting operation based upon complaints of sexual activity taking place in the parks. The police involved in this particular sting operation claim they did nothing to initiate the sexual contact with the men. The newspaper reported:

During this week's sting, undercover officers were approached by or walked up to the suspects in the park. Police, however, do not initiate topics of a sexual nature, Whitehead said.

"Unfortunately, it's not a difficult thing to achieve," he said. "It's all too commonplace and all very anonymous. Within minutes -- minutes -- sexual activity can occur."

Suspects who exposed themselves were arrested on suspicion of public indecency. They face an additional offense of battery if they touched an officer.

About half of the men were charged with battery, in addition to public indecency for merely touching the officer. I find the battery charges suspect. Battery requires that a person knowingly or intentionally touch another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. Even if the undercover police officers didn't initiate the contact, it is hard to imagine that they didn't at least display body language to the charged men to suggest the touching would be welcomed. The charging seems to be a little bit of overkill.

That's the least bit of the charged men's concern though. The newspaper listed the names and ages of all 17 of the men charged. As the report notes, among the charged men are employees of Greater Lafayette Health Services, Tippecanoe School Corp. and Purdue. The civilian member of the sheriff's merit board, Bob Best, has already been asked to resign from his position according to the sheriff's spokesman. If convicted, the men could wind up on a sex offender registry, which could impact where they live, work and play (no pun intended). Is the punishment appropriate for an 82-year-old man?


Anonymous said...

Quit defending perverts, Gary.

Agianst the ban of sexual predators from parks.

Agianst battery charges for those committing battery.

And you wonder why you allow the homophobic GOP to alienate the gay community.

Wilson46201 said...

The above comment makes no sense whatsoever...

Anonymous said...

I'm scratching my head, too, Wilson...and it's usually at you, but not this time.


Gary R. Welsh said...

I'm not defending anyone here. Is it not fair to comment on the use of 16 law enforcement officers to bust 17 men for a victimless crime? I could think of any number of clubs I've been in Indianapolis where straight couples commonly engage in sexual activities in the public bathrooms and parking lots. I'm not complaining about it. I just haven't seen many arrests of this nature, if any, occur at any of these places. Frankly, I can think of more serious crimes I would prefer law enforcement devote its efforts to combatting. At the same time, as I've said before, I don't understand why these people engage in these activities in public parks, and I won't defend their conduct. One question I have, which I've raised in the past, if it is so easy to nail these guys, why did it take an undercover officer's intervention? If it is happening as police say it is, undercover officers should have been able to observe it from a distance or through cameras and made the appropriate arrests. Again, it took direct intervention by the officer for the crime to be committed. That's what I struggle with in these cases.

Anonymous said...

These men should be hooking up in bars or online - the way God intended.

Anonymous said...

I think the word you're trying so hard to avoid is "entrapment."


Anonymous said...

First off, you do NOT end on the sex offender list for public indecency. Here is a list of crimes which gets on on the list:

Rape (IC 35-42-4-1)
Criminal Deviate Conduct (IC 35-42-4-2)
Child Molesting (IC 35-42-4-3)
Child Exploitation (IC 35-42-4-4b)
Vicarious Sexual Gratification (IC 35-42-4-5)
Child Solicitation (IC 35-42-4-6)
Child Seduction (IC 35-42-4-7)
Sexual Misconduct with a Minor as a Class A, B, or C felony (IC 35-42-4-9)
Incest (IC 35-46-1-3)
Sexual Battery (IC 35-42-4-8)
Kidnapping, if the victim is less than 18 (IC 35-42-3-2) or
Criminal Confinement, if the victim is less than 18 (IC 35-42-3-3) ;
Possession of Child Pornography if the person has a prior unrelated conviction for Possession of Child Pornography (IC 35-42-4-4c).

Second. These are not "victimless" crimes. At any given time, I could walk into a public restroom. I do not want to be flashed, or have some guy masturbating in front of me. I do make some differences though. For starters, I would expect this at a club, any club. People get drunk, and they sometimes get carried away. However, once it goes into your everyday parks, malls, colleges, etc....that is not right. If you want to meet someone for gay sex and your living like you are hetrosexual, use the internet and go to a hotel. I feel the same about straight couples.

If you do not stop this, it will only grow. I worked at a place that had a really bad problem with this. It got so bad that one of the guys actually took about three weeks to drill a hole in the stall wall so people could stick their penis through. It is not fair to allow twenty, thirt, or more gay or straight people to over run a public facility. You are trying to make these internet hook-up locations the same as two teenagers finding a dark corner of a parking lot. It is not the same and you know that. If you have problems with people hooking up in an area, call the cops or tell the business owner.

The reason it takes undercover officers is simple. No person in their right mind will flash a cop in uniform. I know guys who have worked these details. All you have to do is tap your feet and these guys will come out of stall, pants down, penis in hand, and smile. At any time, a member of the public could walk in. Who wants to see this? Who wants their kid to see this crap? I DO NOT!! Again, if you want gay sex with strangers, try a gay bar or club. If you want straight sex with strangers, try a straight bar or club. Do not hook-up in public areas where other people have a right not to see your private parts.

I would like to point out that in the past, I have actually had people call me in a very pissed off mood. Seems some freak whipped it out and some father wanted to pound the idiot. No, the guy did not whip it out in front of a child, but the mere fact that there were 100s of children in this building really pissed off the father. Why, because at any given time a kid could have walked in and seen that. Hell, these guys do not even stay in the stalls, they come out with pants down in the middle of restroom. Sickos who need to get a room and stop flashing their erect penis at others.

Anonymous said...

"Again, it took direct intervention by the officer for the crime to be committed. That's what I struggle with in these cases."

So it is ok to break the law, as long as one does not do it in front of the cops?

It is either this, or pay some more in taxes so uniformed officers can make 30 mins checks around the clock of these places. These places get visited because of website chats. As soon as the police do an undercover sting, they post messages to stay away. That actually does work for a while, then the area may or may not pick-up again.

You seem to totally pass over this part, which you posted: "The Sheriff's department says it undertook the sting operation based upon complaints of sexual activity taking place in the parks." So should cops tell these victims to "suck it up, it is just a penis!" The cops do not just pick random places to run these operations. Usually people start complaining about being flashed, followed, etc.. This is not right. This is not 'victimless.' And if the cops just told people to "deal with it", your next victim would be some gay flasher found dead because another person either: 1: Got pissed and went crazy. 2: Felt threatened and defened themselves.

Then the gay rights people would be complaining about the cops not protecting the flashers!!

Gary R. Welsh said...

You miss my point. The fact that visitors to the park can observe it going on should mean that undercover cops could observe it going on and make the appropriate arrests without putting themselves into the mix.

Chris Douglas said...

The problem with the undercover efforts is that they are amateur and ineffective, having the effect of capturing drops of water in flowing stream, rather than creating a dam.

For a enforcement world discussion of more effective methods, go to:

Anonymous said...

"The fact that visitors to the park can observe it going on should mean that undercover cops could observe it going on and make the appropriate arrests without putting themselves into the mix."

Ok. How would this happen? Out of 86,400 seconds in a day. We are talking about men who expose themselves in public a total of 120 seconds in the entire day. The _only_ effective uniform deterent is to place a uniformed officer IN the restroom for the entire time it is open. Another solution is just to close the restrooms. You see, restrooms are private by nature. You cannot put cameras in restrooms. I am glad you folks do not understand this action, it means you do not do this. You see, for the man to expose himself, he wants another man there. If a cop shows up in uniform, the man does not expose himself. However, when the cops leaves and another man in regular street cloths show up, the man may or may not flash that guy. Responding to calls of someone in the restroom for hours also helps, they are usually placed on traspassing lists, but this only helps for private public restrooms, not totally public restrooms.

I do not want my parks over ran by these sorts of people. There are two choices: Raise my taxes to place a uniform officer in the restroom while it is open _or_ do the undercover thing. I choose the undercover thing as it is cheaper in the long run.

The only other way to solve this is to make public indecency one of those misdomeanor crimes that officers can arrest without witnessing. Therefore, a victim can call the police and the person can be arrested.

Cops have to witness this crime. They have a .14% chance of actually seeing this crime in action. All the while, complaints will continue to roll in because it is much more likely and innocent member of the public will see the crime than a uniformed officer.