Sex

The Columbus Crotch Guard

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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.]

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  1. We need photo evidence of the woman involved in order to give an accurate assessment.

  2. Fear the penis.

  3. “?we put our best foot forward?”

    Best unintentional line in the article…

  4. It’s amazing the amount of energy the pigs put into busting homos and horny people. It just blows my mind, and reinforces my belief that cops are mostly pussy bullies who’d rather pick on easy targets than real, dangerous criminals.

  5. Thanks to prolefeed for the tip.

    Second best unintentional line in the article…

  6. Anyone from Columbus? Is Berliner Park the pervo park in town or is it just a regular, old, picnics and frisbee type park?

    1. Even though it is 2012….I feel that this question must be answered.

      Downtown Columbus sucks ass, gay ass that is.

  7. They can take my penis from my cold, dead hands.

    Wait, that came out wrong.

  8. Oops! I meant flying disk.

    The Wham-O? company is the bestest company in the whole wide world!

  9. The answer is obvious: as with children, men should ignore women in public. Hell, men too. Just don’t talk to anybody. Don’t help anyone in “need”, don’t strike up a “conversation”. Dehumanize!

  10. topless sunbathing is legal in the city’s parks,

    For those of you booking flights to Columbus, keep in mind the obvious extension of Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of topless sunbathers are women you don’t want to see topless.

  11. You mean not everyone is a supermodel? TV lied to me!

  12. Since she apparently asked him to pull his prick out, I’d call it entrapment.

    That being said, he was an idiot to take her up on it.

    (Read that any way you want. :0 )

  13. You mean not everyone is a supermodel? TV lied to me!

    Oh crap… Does that mean TV is also lying when it tells me that hot chicks go for dumpy, middle-aged white guys like Jim Belushi and the dude from King of Queens?

  14. Wait a minute. How come no one finds it incredibly, massively, mind-blowingly suprising that Topless sunbathing is allowed in public parks in Columbus, Ohio? Chicks can just walk around with their funbags flailing around in OHIO?!

  15. The case is just one of the more extreme examples of police stings aimed at luring people into committing crimes, a tactic that has resulted in hundreds of arrests, many convictions and plenty of controversy.

    Translation: ABC is upset that Dateline NBC cornered the market on entrapment stories.

    What I’m curious about is what would have happened if the female officer, upon being asked to go topless for a sting operation, had declined. If the request (or the video surveillance) were handled in any manner other than flawless, it seems like it’s just ripe for a sexual harassment suit.

  16. I don’t think they’re allowed to walk topless. They must remain motionless, so as to avoid the bouncy-bouncy.

  17. I don’t think they’re allowed to walk topless.

    I’ll look into it for you. Let me get my Toplessness Handbook out, and turn to page… uhh…

    I’ll be in my bunk…

  18. I don’t think they’re allowed to walk topless. They must remain motionless, so as to avoid the bouncy-bouncy.

    *belly-laugh* Crimethink wins the thread.

    Back on topic, this is pretty damn outrageous, and seems like the thing a totalitarian government’s enforcement dept would do.

  19. dbcooper-

    What are you doing here? Didn’t you hear that they’re looking for you?

  20. Dear Penthouse Forum:

    I never thought it would happen to me, but the fact that she had all of her teeth should have been my first clue that something was wrong.

  21. “women are allowed to go topless in parks”

    the were concerned with “men masturbating in parks”

    hmmmm… no, no connection there.

  22. I live in Columbus, and as far as I know, Berliner is not a local pickle park. I’ve never been, but you can see it from I-71, and it’s got about 2 dozen softball fields. I thought that’s all it was. I may go check it out now that I know there’s topless sunbathing going on.

    If you come to Columbus and are looking for man on man action, my best guess would be Goodale Park, which is located in the Short North/Victorian Village. Seriously, though, it’s just a guess.

  23. Cleavage is like the sun; you glance at it, form a quick impression, and then look away. You don’t STARE at it!

  24. What are you doing here? Didn’t you hear that they’re looking for you?

    HAHAHA, I just called the Feds. The reward money is mine! What? There’s no reward money?

  25. and if the gentleman had refused the police officer’s request to show his penis?

  26. He’d have been arrested for gawking, of course.

  27. …keep in mind the obvious extension of Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of topless sunbathers are women you don’t want to see topless.

    I prefer Penn Jillette’s theorem: There isn’t anybody I wouldn’t rather see naked.

  28. Rhwyun –

    You can say that again.

    I would probably be quite safe from this entrapment because if a topless female spoke to me in a public place I would immediately sense a trap.

    Always remember that no good can ever come from speaking to any child in any public place, regardless of the circumstances – and only interact with women strange to you in hostile and brusque ways – and you should be OK. It’s a dice roll if you break these simple rules, though.

  29. Suppose that she wasn’t a cop, similar events transpired, and then a cop saw what he was doing and made an arrest. Would she also be subject to arrest for her involvement in the exposure?

  30. Wait a minute. How come no one finds it incredibly, massively, mind-blowingly suprising that Topless sunbathing is allowed in public parks in Columbus, Ohio? Chicks can just walk around with their funbags flailing around in OHIO?!

    Uhhh…is there something that should make it mind-blowing? Remember that Columbus is home to one of the country’s largest concentrations of nubile co-eds.

    On the other hand, it’s consistently one of the fattest cities in the country.

  31. Warren.

    Warren, Warren, Warren.

  32. de stijl | January 2, 2008, 2:14pm | #
    Anyone from Columbus? Is Berliner Park the pervo park in town or is it just a regular, old, picnics and frisbee type park?

    Berliner Park does have this reputation. It also has the aforementioned softball fields. It is not known for nude sunbathing.

  33. Since most of the park perverts, and restroom pervs, I’ve heard about are married, it would make sense to try using boobs to snare them. Normal, uncloseted gays don’t need clandestine settings to get it on.

  34. Suppose that she wasn’t a cop, similar events transpired, and then a cop saw what he was doing and made an arrest. Would she also be subject to arrest for her involvement in the exposure?

    >NOT LEGAL ADVICE, JUST GENERAL INFORMATION
    Depending on the jurisdiction, she might be guilty of the inchoate offense of solicitation (not be confused with the related crime of solicitation for prostitution). However, I don’t think that solicitation of a misdemeanor is a crime in any U.S. jurisdiction anymore, but I have not done a review of the criminal laws of all states/territories, so YMMV. This is not legal advice, please contact an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before responding to the requests of others to engage in illegal behaviors 🙂

  35. There are at least some jurisdictions where “public indecency” is a strict liability crime (i.e., no culpable mental state required).

    Entrapment would not be available as an affirmative defense in such jurisdictions.

    Just saying…

  36. “””and if the gentleman had refused the police officer’s request to show his penis?”””

    As Guiliani may say, the guy was exercizing his liberty by obeying a police officer.

  37. No, Rudy wouldn’t say that at all. I don’t remember Rudy being much on this type of close to entrapment tactics. He would just send a 1,000 cops to the park and hand out tickets.

    I do remember seeing some undercover cops setting up stings in the subway stations. It was always a man in dirty clothes with a real big gold chain around his neck acting like he was passed out. Only a moron would go for it, they arrested plenty of morons with that sting.

  38. There are at least some jurisdictions where “public indecency” is a strict liability crime (i.e., no culpable mental state required).

    Entrapment would not be available as an affirmative defense in such jurisdictions.

    KipEsquire-
    It has been a long time since 1L criminal law, but I thought that there were two basic approaches to entrapment, one an objective test, the other subjective, and that in objective test jurisdicitions the focus is on the government’s behavior, such that entrapment is not a defense because it eliminates the mens rea, but because it is intended to “punish” the government. Can you shed any more light on that, or am I misremembering things?

  39. “and if the gentleman had refused the police officer’s request to show his penis?”

    He would have been arrested for disobeying a lawful order.

  40. Sorry to say this guys, but most of you are silly when it comes to your dicks. The poor sap probably thought it was gonna be a Penthouse Letters moment and forgot to remember what he looked like that morning in the mirror.

  41. This started on another thread
    (New at Reason, January 2, 2008, 7:13am) but the topic has since obviously relocated to here.

    Entrapment, at the very least, requires that the govt agent cause a person to commit a crime when that person originally had no intent to do so. Simply providing the means or the opportunity to commit a crime doesn’t constitute entrapment in any reasonable legal interpretation.

    crimethink,
    And the proof of a predisposition for commiting a crime is ??? This guy would be exposing himself to sunbathing women if not encouraged? That beep, beep, beep you’re hearing is my B/s detector. Besides my referring to prostitution stings is because of the oft documented cases of decoys LYING, yes PERJURING THEMSELVES, in order to improve their arrest stats. The cops have video but no audio. Hmmm.

  42. Yes, topless ok for women here in Columbus, unless, of course, the woman is working in any capacity in an establishment that serves alcohol. (But if you’re just a patron, hey, it’s cool.)
    I had hoped there would be topless protests out front of churches that pushed Ohio’s latest crackdown on strip clubs, but that didn’t materialize.

  43. flirting with him and seductively placing her foot on his shoulder

    But did she tap the foot? That’s the question.

  44. For those of you booking flights to Columbus,

    Also remember it isn’t “one sunny day last summer” right now.

    Entrapment, at the very least, requires that the govt agent cause a person to commit a crime when that person originally had no intent to do so.

    So all the guy has to do is get up on the stand and swear that he had no intent to do to the topless woman what every other straight guy in the world fantasizes over? He’s toast.

  45. PS: Where are the “firefighter” – “hose” comments?

  46. At what point did the poor “entrapped” man decide it was ok to unleash the dragon? This is like the punch line to a Jeff Foxworthy joke–“If you’ve ever pulled out Mr. Sticky for a stranger in the park, you might be a redneck”

    Jeez. Can’t men be expected to show just a little self restraint? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I thought it would be a good idea to whip out my Johnson in public. What could this guy have possibly been thinking?

  47. Columbus = Zardoz?

  48. Jim:

    It’s not a matter of “what he was thinking.”

    It’s more a matter of what he was thinking WITH.

  49. It’s nice to know that Columbus has so little crime that their cops have nothing better to do.

    But really, what kind of guy hides in bushes with a camcorder, hoping to entice some other guy to display his equipment? I think if the objective was to find gay perverts, the camera was pointed the wrong direction.

  50. Did the police get the idea for this stunt while smoking contraband and watching old Police Academy movies? I don’t think this poor schlub finds it very funny, especially if his name winds up on a sex offender registry somewhere.

  51. But really, what kind of guy hides in bushes with a camcorder, hoping to entice some other guy to display his equipment?

    That’s the next gig for Chris Hansen at Dateline NBC.

  52. “Still, you’d think police would have better things to do than watch (and record) the show, let alone arrest anyone over it.”

    Disagree. It’s a public park. Families shouldn’t have to deal with this type of thing occurring in public. A young girl walking home from school shouldn’t have to see some guy jerking off.

    I heard the same thing when that guy Craig was arrested for soliciting sex in a bathroom stall. “Don’t the police have something better to do?” But the police had recevied complaints that this type of thing was going on, including boys who were propositioned. Are the police really “supposed to find something better to do”? This is their job.

  53. Sane:
    Yes, it is their job to protect the innocent. However, in this case, the defendant was innocent until they enticed him into breaking the law.

    Considering the lengths that their bait had to go to get him to do so, this is pretty clearly a case of entrapment, which is NOT their job.

  54. I’m from Columbus, and Berliner Park has been a cruising park since at least the early ’80s. It’s also home to an annual drag queen softball tournament.

    We have a funny moral code here.

    Thanks to some radical lesbians and militant breastfeeding moms, women can now go topless if they feel like it(unless, as previously noted, topless woman is working where alcohol is served). At the Community Festival every June, many do. Come and visit for that–you can see topless women, enjoy local music of every genre, and make fun of hippies.

  55. I wonder how many days the police ignored the fact that sunbathing happens in the sun and not in the shade of a big tree………

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