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?