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Aug 26 2012

Bigoted Pastor Convicted of Wanking at Park

You may remember the arrest of Grant Storms, a virulently anti-gay pastor from Louisiana who routinely engaged in protests against gay rights in New Orleans, for allegedly masturbating near a public park. Well you can drop the “allegedly.” He’s been convicted:

The Rev. Grant Storms, the former “Christian patriot” pastor whose marches against homosexuality at New Orleans’ Southern Decadence festival briefly put him in the national spotlight, was convicted of obscenity Wednesday, for exposing himself while masturbating at Lafreniere Park last year. In his confession, he described public masturbation as “a thrill,” but authorities debunked suspicions that he was a pedophile…

The judge noted that in Storms’ confession, he admitted that Feb. 25, 2011, the day he was arrested, was the third time that week that he masturbated in Lafreniere Park…

Apparently attempting to explain to police why he exposed himself, Storms confessed that as a grass cutter, he carried a “pee bottle” with him, and on the day of his arrest, he sipped a beer in his van and then had to urinate. He did it in the bottle, instead of walking to a park restroom. However, Detective Donald Zanotelli testified he searched Storms’ van and found no bottles with urine in them.

Following his arrest, Storms provided an impromptu press conference for local television reporters, accusing the Sheriff’s Office of suggesting he was a pedophile and calling detectives “maniacal” and “coercive.” But he admitted to have watched pornography that day and to putting his hands in his pants. “I apologize deeply for my inappropriate, sinful actions,” he said tearfully, describing himself as “disoriented and confused.”

Ah yes, the voice of moral rectitude.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    'Tis Himself

    Whenever I hear of a religious figure being homophobic I have to wonder what their particular sexual kink is.

  2. 2
    Armored Scrum Object

    The phrase “convicted of obscenity” has quite an Orwellian ring to it, and what I’ve read about the background of “obscenity” as a legal concept in US law doesn’t do much to disabuse that notion. AFAICT it’s basically the crime of grossing people out, which enjoys an exception to the First Amendment because ew, gross. Have I missed some kind of Big Idea here?

    Not that there’s some kind of Constitutional right to wank in public, but I have to wonder where the line is on that charge.

  3. 3
    busterggi

    I hope this won’t interfere with his speaking at the GOP convention.

  4. 4
    Christoph Burschka

    I hope this won’t interfere with his speaking at the GOP convention.

    As long as he manages to control himself while on stage, I see no reason it would.

  5. 5
    Marcus Ranum

    I hope this won’t interfere with his speaking at the GOP convention.

    It’s not as if he’d be the first wanker to speak at the GOP convention, or anything.

  6. 6
    Larry

    I hope this won’t interfere with his speaking at the GOP convention.

    You win the internetz for today!

  7. 7
    Chuck

    Well, in his defense, at least he wasn’t caught hog-tied in a wetsuit with a dildo up his ass. Not all of them can make that claim.

  8. 8
    Aliasalpha

    So mastubating in public without exposing yourself is fine?

  9. 9
    Reginald Selkirk

    … and there was “never a shred of evidence (showing) that Mr. Storms was masturbating to children.” … But he admitted to have watched pornography that day

    So what was he masturbating too? Gay or non-gay?

  10. 10
    Chiroptera

    Armored Scrum Object, #2:

    Is public masturbation legal where you live?

    Or is the justification for outlawing it there based on non-subjective public welfare concerns?

  11. 11
    feralboy12

    Apparently attempting to explain to police why he exposed himself, Storms confessed that as a grass cutter

    First time I’ve heard it called that.

  12. 12
    steve oberski

    @Chuck Not all of them can make that claim.

    Especially the guy wearing the wet suit, who, if I remember correctly, asphyxiated himself in the process. The coroners report on this is a hoot.

  13. 13
    Armored Scrum Object

    @Chiroptera #10

    Is public masturbation legal where you live?

    No. In my state it’s “indecent exposure” rather than “obscenity” (which is a different offense), but it’s not any more legal.

    Or is the justification for outlawing it there based on non-subjective public welfare concerns?

    I don’t know what the actual justification is, which is why I asked my question.

  14. 14
    markr1957

    That one was actually a novelty for the state of Louisiana. More typically fundie preacher types get caught in police stings when they sweep the public parks for men soliciting gay sex.

  15. 15
    dogmeat

    Armored Scrum,

    The difference between the two, in this context appears to be minimal. Normally in a legal context, “obscene” materials have no redeeming social value while indecent materials may be considered artistic, or otherwise of value, but could be considered “obscene” in a local context. Given the circumstances, I don’t see either act having an artistic or social value, except perhaps while the suspect is busy with themselves they are less likely to directly assault someone else (a rather weak argument). Overall, I would suspect that it is simply a difference in language.

  16. 16
    Armored Scrum Object

    @dogmeat #15: The thing is, if the sexual expression were targeted at a particular person or group, it would clearly be harassment. But as it is I get the sense that the law is really designed to prosecute a person for what turns hir on, which directly contradicts one of my basic [ass|pres]umptions of sexual ethics (i.e. you can’t hold people responsible for their turn-ons, only for demonstrable or carefully anticipated harm that their behaviors cause). The law is written such that the intent of sexual gratification is a criminalizing element. The objection seems to be that it is “filthy”, to use a word that has actually appeared in the precedent statutes. That mindset bugs the shit out of me, even if in this case the guy deserves to have his hypocrisy thrown in his face. When I looked up the corresponding law in my state, I found that it was in the same “moral offenses” subsection of criminal law as pornography and prostitution, not in the same subsection as assault or harassment. Even if I agree with this guy getting dinged, I can’t ignore such an obviously puritanical and censorious background. Is this really okay?

    In short, as satisfying as it is to cast this particular asshole as Aqualung, I worry that it leads to blindly reinforcing an irrational and religiously-inspired legal standard of “decency” when the principle of the First Amendment demands a higher standard.

  17. 17
    dingojack

    “The thing is, if the sexual expression were targeted at a particular person or group, it would clearly be harassment…”

    Read Ed’s headline again. Clearly the object of the wanking was the park itself*. The man’s a dirty hortophile!
    ;) Dingo
    ——-
    * wanking ‘at’ (not ‘in’ or ‘near’) a park.

  18. 18
    Armored Scrum Object

    @dingojack #17

    Thanks for for reminding me of this exchange from Beavis and Butt-Head Do America:

    Agent Bork: Chief, you know that guy whose camper they were whacking off in?

    Agent Fleming*: Bork, you’re a Federal Agent. You represent the United States government. Never end a sentence with a preposition.

    Agent Bork: Oh, uh… You know that guy in whose camper they… I mean, that guy off in whose camper they were whacking?

    *: Robert Stack FTW.

  19. 19
    dingojack

    “Do you know the guy who owns the campervan in which they were ‘wacking-off’?”

    :D Dingo

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