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  • « Welcome ACLU, WaPo to the party | Main | Give the Post 'Fact-Checker' a Pinocchio »

    September 18, 2007

    As if on cue…

    Posted by: Chris

    32367645 …a report emerged this week that an Episcopal priest in Boca Raton was arrested recently for soliciting sex in a public restroom. And in his case, it was crystal clear that the solicitation was for sex that would take place in private — back in the priest's home, actually:

    Father Michael Penland was charged on June 28 with “soliciting for a crime against nature” in Waynesville Recreation Park after he allegedly asked an undercover officer to go home with him and have sex. On Sept. 5, Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade suspended Fr. Penland from his priestly duties at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton.

    “The charge is brazenly unconstitutional,” said Robert Rosenwald, an ACLU lawyer with the Florida chapter’s LGBT project, who examined the police report.

    Penland was issued a citation after he allegedly followed an undercover detective home in his car after soliciting him for sex in a public bathroom. He was among seven men arrested by the Waynesville Police Department in a summer-long sting operation dubbed Operation Summer Heat.

    The ACLU lawyer is right on target…again. I have no issues with laws against public sex, but soliciting an act that is constitutionally protected -- and that certainly includes adult, consensual sex in your own home -- is protected by the First Amendment.

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    Comments

    1. Kevin on Sep 18, 2007 10:46:59 AM:

      Right on.

    1. Huw Richardson on Sep 18, 2007 10:03:29 PM:

      We already had one ECUSA priest arrested in North Carolina. I'd post the link... but it's not allowed.

    1. Double T on Sep 20, 2007 12:01:03 PM:

      Making a case against Craig.

      Yes, I know, let the story die, I just can’t.

      I think they can make a case against Craig, and here’s how they could do it. Assuming Craig gets out of the one charge and is hit with soliciting sex, to take place in public.

      The whole thing hinges on the “signal” and what it means. The police will simply say that the signal means SEX-HERE-NOW. It won’t be hard to argue, there are plenty of websites they could reference, websites independent of the police. They can references websites like cruisingforsex openly telling people that this bathroom is a place for public sex. The police will have training videos explaining what these signals mean developed independent of that police force.

      Now Father Michael Penland couldn’t be charged in the same manner, why? Because he spoke in Plain English and his intent was very understandable. And they drove to a private location.

      The police often come into court and have to translate. When the hooker says “$50 for a date”, they explain “date” is street slang for sex. When they wiretap Tony Soprano saying he wants Bobby B. to sleep with the fishes. The police translate this as mafia-speak for murder. Craig’s foot signal is Tearoom translate for SEX-HERE-NOW. The police will have a small library of material to back them up.

      Now, maybe Craig will take the stand and explain that the signal means he was ordering a pizza with extra pepperoni.

      “the government can arrest people for soliciting public sex only if it can show beyond doubt that the sex was to occur in public” – if you’re signaling SEX-HERE-NOW, is that not beyond a reasonable doubt?

      At the end of the day, it would be the Jury who would decide who’s telling the truth.
      And the devil is in the details.

      p.s. I won’t be waiting for that pizza to be delivered anytime soon.

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