The Columbus Crotch Guard


Robin Garrison, a 42-year-old firefighter, is appealing a public indecency conviction stemming from his decision to reveal his private parts to a topless woman in a Columbus, Ohio, park one sunny day last spring. In Garrison's defense, the woman, who was working with local police, asked to see his penis after flirting with him and seductively placing her foot on his shoulder. "While topless sunbathing is legal in the city's parks," ABC News explains, "exposing more than that is against the law." Garrison plausibly argues that he's a victim of entrapment, since his willingness to unwrap his package at the request of an attractive half-dressed woman does not prove he had a pre-existing inclination to expose himself. ABC reports that Columbus police, who videotaped the encounter, were "targeting men having sex or masturbating in the park." Since police were targeting "men having sex," I assume that means gay men, in which case luring offenders with a bare-chested woman does not make much sense. As for the masturbating, were there complaints about creepy guys jerking off while staring at sunbathing women? If so, how does having a woman take off her top and come on to a guy walking through the park replicate that scenario?

Update: BoingBoing notes that ABC has added this confusing clarification to its story: "The sunbathing woman is not affiliated with the police department and she was not asked to take part in the sting operation, according to a spokesperson for the department." So in what sense was it a "sting operation," and why did Garrison's lawyer argue during his trial that "Columbus police utilized this topless woman to snare this man"? A November 12 Columbus Dispatch story makes things a bit clearer (emphasis added):

Garrison's attorney, Sam Shamansky, argued that police set up a sting around a woman who had been sunbathing topless in the park for days.

"Columbus police utilized this topless woman to snare this man," Shamansky said. "He sees her day after day. He's not some seedy pervert."…

The footage shows Garrison sitting near the woman, under a tree, and the two talking for several minutes. At one point, the woman puts her foot on his shoulder. Though she was supposed to be sunbathing, she appears to be sitting in the shade.

The tape does not include audio, so it's unclear what was said, but during the exchange Garrison unzips his pants and exposes himself.

Shamansky said Garrison saw the woman for days as he drove past Berliner Park.

"She asks to see his penis and, like a fool, he does it," Shamansky said.

Detective Dick Elias said vice officers had set up the video because they were targeting men who were having sex or masturbating in the park—not men who had come to see her.

The woman had been sunbathing topless near the front of the park for days, he said, and "had become a spectacle" with men driving by to watch….

So Elias asked the woman to move to the rear of the park, which she did. But men still drove by to see her. Another man, whose name wasn't mentioned, was charged the same afternoon as Garrison for exposing himself to the woman.

So this sounds less like police entrapment than an exhibitionist who got a kick out of encouraging men to join in the fun. Still, you'd think police would have better things to do than watch (and record) the show, let alone arrest anyone over it. 

[Thanks to prolefeed for the tip.]