LGBT

Local News Publishes Identities of Gay Men Arrested for Consensual Sex

"Imagine: You're having sex with a consenting adult...and then you're arrested and held overnight, and your whole, entire life has been exposed on TV."

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|||MilsiArt/Dreamstime.com
MilsiArt/Dreamstime.com

Does private, consensual gay sex warrant a police raid? How about a smear campaign?

In Florida last month, officers of the Hollywood Police Department raided an adult store called the Pleasure Emporium. Someone had called the cops claiming that patrons were committing lewd acts inside; an undercover couple went to the store, purchased tickets for an adult video room, and found gay men allegedly performing sex acts either on themselves or with each other. It wasn't prostitution, but the cops decided it violated the statutes against lascivious acts and exposure of sexual organs. The arrests followed, and a police report noted the identities of those involved.

Just a day later, the men became victims of what the Miami New Times has rightly called a smear campaign.

Local outlets such as WPLG and The Miami Herald posted the men's names and mugshots. Abbie Cuellar, a lawyer representing one of the men, tells the New Times that her client lost his job as a result. The man had fled Cuba two decades ago because he was persecuted for being gay; he saw the United States as a "beacon of 'freedom.'"

"Imagine: You're having sex with a consenting adult," she says, "and then you're arrested and held overnight, and your whole, entire life has been exposed on TV. Your picture is everywhere. You're on the internet! My client has even been getting calls from Cuba. This was horrible, horrible, horrible"

After the New Times reached out, the Herald revised its story by removing the arrestees' identities and mugshots. A joke about the arrested watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show was also removed. An editor's note read, "This story has been updated to remove portions deemed inappropriate under the Miami Herald's editorial standards."

The New Times also tried to contact the journalist who wrote the WPLG story, but it did not receive an immediate response. The WPLG story has not, at this point, been revised.

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  1. I wouldn’t cast too many stones about exposing genitals if I were a cop in a state shaped like Florida.

  2. Is this because its gay men?

    It is illegal to have consensual sex in a female/male strip clubs in most jurisdictions.

    1. I imagine it is, but more to the point, local news hasn’t changed in decades. They devote a good portion of their broadcasts to regurgitating police blotters, and the more sensational the better.

      1. You’re probably right. Its easy journalism. It costs more to talk to people and investigate local government corruption, waste on local budgets, and getting to newsworthy events quickly.

    2. This isn’t a strip club.

      It’s illegal probably in all jurisdictions to have sex with a paid stripper, because that is prostitution. These were just visitors to a store that were having sex in the store.

      It’s also illegal to have sex in a public place, such as a store.

      It’s also a huge waste of police time.

      1. It’s borderline and depends on the law. A hotel is a place of public accommodation, but people don’t get arrested for sex in a hotel. The video store near me has buddy booths designed for side by side viewing with a glass window in between the viewers and a slot for extending organs into the other viewer’s side of the buddy booth. Sex there is acceptable, but sex in the aisles of the store is not.

  3. Of course, there’s a broader issue, which is publishing mugshots of presumptively-innocent people and describing their alleged crimes, merely because they’ve been arrested.

    I think lots of cops think the process itself should be a punishment.

    1. This is a very good point.

      Police and prosecutors use charge stacking, public humiliation, no bail… to get people to plea out.

      If I was arrested for a sex crime, I would fight it until it could be fought no longer.

      Stop giving government power by submitting to unconstitutional government actions.

      1. Part of the strategy for civil disobedience was to overload the justice system with non-violent crimes that should be legal anyway. What if libertarians in each state picked one small town to get an annual parking ticket in on the same date and contest the charges?

        1. I’m sure they would be happy to collect the court fees. Small town judges can be really quick with the gavel.

          As one small town cop put it to me some 35 years ago “…and you can either pay the fine now, or we can put you in jail over the weekend and you can talk to my brother-in-law, the Judge, on Monday.”

      2. If someone tried to strong arm me into a bullshit conviction, I would fight them to the ends of the earth. I would make their lives so Goddamn miserable until they were nostalgic for the days that they didn’t know my name.

        1. You would make someone’s life miserable while fighting criminal charges?

          By writing strongly worded letters?

          By bringing your outside voice to court proceedings?

          By using your superpowers to defy the rules of criminal procedure?

          By praying really hard on it?

          By hiring Federalist Society members to represent you?

          By demonstrating that the flag fringe deprives the court of jurisdiction?

          By putting the entire Volokh Conspiracy on the case?

          By making America great again?

          By invoking the memory of LaVoy Finnicum?

          All-talk right-wingers with delusions of adequacy are some of my favorite faux libertarians.

    2. “You might be the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.”

    3. You are right, where police tip off their local media as a method of advance jury tampering. It happens, and sometimes the arrested is met by media at the police station before being booked – which is the point where it actually becomes public record. It’s highly unethical behavior.

  4. “This story has been updated to remove portions deemed inappropriate under the Miami Herald’s editorial standards.”

    At least let the paint dry on those standards before putting them to use.

  5. “You won’t believe the shockingly nasty, filthy, disgusting things these people were caught doing! Film at 11. But first, coming up next, two small children ripped apart by bears, and it’s all caught on camera!”

  6. I mean, is being revealed as gay that bad these days?

    Not so much.

    Fucking someone in an adult video store and being caught? That might get you fired from your job regardless of the sex of your partner.

    And last I checked, these are public record so…are we now saying gay men need to be excluded from the public record? Why?

    1. Not gay men in particular, but as for criminal suspects/defendants in general…releasing mug shots and guilt-presuming articles (basically rewritten cop press releases) isn’t the best policy for police and their media pawns to be pursuing.

      1. And bear in mind that the names of alleged victims of sex crimes are public records, too, yet these names tend not to get published, while the names of the presumptively-innocent suspect/accused gets published with a mug shot.

        1. I think the names of victims are often sealed, especially if they are minors. There’s also general agreement to not publish the names of victims without their permission in the news.

          1. For that matter, the names of minor defendants are sealed too.

            But as you seem to acknowledge, the media avoids publishing the names of adult complainants but publishes names and mugshots of unconvicted, presumed-inncent suspects/defendants.

      2. I could certainly agree there. I would agree less if what is defined as a crime were narrowed to actual harm since there would be an argument for public safety but for fucking in public…it seems like something that wouldn’t be all that dangerous to anyone in particular. It probably shouldn’t even be illegal beyond perhaps a city ordinance and a ticket at most.

        1. Why on earth would a libertarian even entertain the idea that it should be illegal to have consensual sex in a fucking sex theater?

          1. a fucking sex theater

            One of those words is redundant.

            1. Depending on the house rules, they could allow fucking in the sex theater or not. It’s like when we used to have smoking and non-smoking sections of restaurants.

              1. No fighting in the war room!

          2. Why on earth would a libertarian even entertain the idea that it should be illegal to have consensual sex in a fucking sex theater?

            For a libertarian, it shouldn’t be “Illegal”, but that doesn’t mean it should be permitted.

            That is, under a libertarian model, the property owner, the building owner, and the neighborhood association can all forbid sex on the property, they can impose serious penalties, and they can publicly identify people who violate those rules.

            That is, under a libertarian model, the consequences for having sex in the back of a “fucking sex theater” might well be more severe than under the current progressive model, which leaves it up to the state.

            1. From what I’ve read, any sex theater that puts you in handcuffs and locks you up for several hours will let you pick a safe word. Cops and nurses don’t provide customers with the same courtesy.

              1. It’s not up to what the sex theater wants; they operate in that neighborhood under the condition that no sex takes place on premises. Such conditions would also exist under libertarianism and likely be strictly enforced.

              2. Cops, nurses, handcuffs…I think I’ve seen this film before.

            2. That is, under a libertarian model, the consequences for having sex in the back of a “fucking sex theater” might well be more severe than under the current progressive model, which leaves it up to the state.

              Hell of an endorsement. I was promised more freedom, not less.

            3. The fuck makes you think the libertarian model supports a private business applying penalties more severe than the state for something like that? Their rights should be limited to removing and banning you from the premises, and possibly suing for the cost of cleaning their carpets if you got your fluids everywhere.

    2. Every arrest record should be excluded from public record until there’s a conviction. Or we can stop pretending ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is an actual thing, because it isn’t

    3. I’m not sure I agree that the locked room of a private business counts as a public space. I definitely don’t agree with the editorial decisions of most local news stations. In my opinion there is a very good case to be made that the public would be better served if journalists started talking truth to power and asking legislators and law enforcement if this is a good use of tax dollars. Instead police go for the easy arrest and newsrooms go for the easy story, and we keep going deeper in debt.


      1. an undercover couple went to the store, purchased tickets for an adult video room, and found gay men allegedly performing sex acts either on themselves or with each other.

        I agree there as well, but it’s difficult to tell from this article if that ‘locked room’ was locked, open, or what. Either way, it seems these rooms were not for ‘fucking’ but rather for viewing adult content.

        Either way, it’s a dumb law and dumb enforcement since I doubt anyone in a place like that would be a prude. Still, remarkably bad judgement on the part of these two guys. This ain’t the Victorian period though, so I certainly wouldn’t waste my time with it unless the owner was the one who called.

        1. It seems that anyone walking into that room would, indeed, “view adult content.” Unobro?

        2. Another article has the cops paying $25 to unlock that room.

        3. I’m intrigued about what the caller reported. “Uhhh… police? I went to watch a porno in the local adult store and I was *shocked* to see people having sex”

          1. I was shocked to learn that there were still adult videos being shown in theaters.

            And I live just a quick jaunt up I-95 from Hollywood. I’ve never heard that they had porno theaters. We have actual swingers clubs down here, and I’m still surprised that there’s a porno theater.

            I also hadn’t heard anything about this story, so not too many people seem to be paying attention. I rarely watch the local news – it is way too “if it bleeds, it leads” down here, and the sets are far too garish. Tons of neon and LED lights and video boards everywhere. The only time to watch the local news is when a hurricane is a-brewin’.

    4. I mean, is being revealed as gay that bad these days?

      There is still plenty of vestigial bigotry in America, particularly in our goober-strewn, can’t-keep-up backwaters.

      Our liberal-libertarian alliance is making strong progress, however, in improving America in his context.

  7. Hey mom, you slutty bitch, turn on the TV! I’m so fucking famous! Oh em eff geeee we are going out for mai tais!

  8. FUCK! Almost made it to the weekend without a Buttsex article. 🙁

  9. Am I supposed to believe that someone who goes to an adult video store to watch videos of people having sex, will be horrified and offended by seeing other people having sex?

    What decency standards are being violated?

    1. I guess it depends on who’s having the sex.

      1. Patrick Fitzhugh and Hugh Fitzpatrick.

  10. I swear to god I can almost hear the straining in some comments above trying to make this an instance of how gays are getting special treatment.

    1. We get it. You’re gay. Do you want an article about it?

      1. I want to convert your children and destroy civilization, of course.

        1. That’s nice, dear. Playing with your little straw men again?

        2. Oye, the last guy to try to get me to read his holy book ended up becoming a gay porn artists. Tony, don’t try to convert me. I’m happy being Jewish.

        3. Based on your posts, I have to commend you on your honesty.

    2. I swear to god I can almost hear the straining in some comments above trying to make this an instance of how gays are getting special treatment.

      I believe having sex in the back of video stores is as much frowned upon for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals. It’s you and the article who are trying to make this about sexual orientation rather than inappropriate sexual behavior.

      1. Not only that, it is just sad. I feel sorry for these poor, lonely people. I mean that sincerely.

    3. News flash, Tony: libertarians don’t usually have any problem with someone being gay. As a rule, we tend to think whatever consenting adults do in private is no one else’s business.

      1. Pop quiz, hotshot. This place is full of right-wing bigots, and nobody seems to notice.

        1. Are you sure?

          Maybe they’re just freedom-of-association-loving libertarians who would gladly allow you to be just as pussy as you want to be, while they still disapprove?

        2. Tony, we’re not the bigots here. I personally don’t care i the slightest how big a poof you are. It’s your obnoxious, blind, idiotic, smug support for a socio economic political system that has cause the screaming agonizing deaths of over a hundred million people over the last century or so and still oppresses billion of people around the globe.

          This makes you the bigot. This makes you evil.

        3. Huh? Shouldn’t a pop quiz include a question? This just seems like a statement.

        4. This place is full of right-wing bigots, and nobody seems to notice.

          A lot of those “right wing bigots” are really just contrarians and pedants.

          There’s a lot of those in libertarian-land. That’s one reason it is so hard to have a functioning libertarian party. Any statement of principle or policy is followed by endless debate on minutia, nitpicking about definitions and “no true scottsman” one-upsmanship.

          1. Nah, they’re just right-wing bigots.

            Maladjusted, disaffected, unsophisticated, awkward . . . perhaps. But still authoritarian, conservative, old-timey bigots.

      2. [?] libertarians don’t usually have any problem with someone being gay.

        The comment section of any article even tangentially involving gay people argues otherwise.

  11. How are the actions of the local news outlets in running the story appreciably different from Gawker? There was a whole lot of bitching by the staff about the consequences for not taking down the Hogan tapes was somehow the end of journalism.

    It’s shitty behavior by the police and the journalists over nothing important but some consistency in what is “in the public insterest” would be nice.

    1. I read that as “public incest”, which would give story another spin!

  12. Sounds like no elected Democrats were there that night.

  13. “Imagine: You’re having sex with a consenting adult,” she says, “and then you’re arrested and held overnight,

    He was not arrested for having consensual sex, but for having it in a public place.

    Abbie Cuellar, a lawyer representing one of the men, tells the New Times that her client lost his job as a result. The man had fled Cuba two decades ago because he was persecuted for being gay; he saw the United States as a “beacon of ‘freedom.'”

    And he’s still not being “persecuted for being gay”, he is being legally charged with having sex in an inappropriate place. One can argue about whether sex in the backrooms of public commercial establishments ought to be legal (I think it ought to be), but that’s a separate issue.

    and your whole, entire life has been exposed on TV. Your picture is everywhere.

    Arrests are matters of public record, and news organizations are private and have a right to publish this. Again, I don’t see the problem here.

    1. Is America a beacon of sexual license or an puritanical society uptight about sex?

      I am not exactly sure what the country’s reputation is right now on these things.

    2. >Arrests are matters of public record, and news organizations are private and have a right to publish this. Again, I don’t see the problem here.

      Arrestees should have the option to not have their names published. They’re innocent until proven guilty, after all. In Germany, for example, there needs to be a strong reason before it’s permitted to publish an arrestee’s name.

    3. The actual facts of “getting arrested for having sex in public” doesn’t cause an SJW to outrage splooge, so let’s pretend gays are being hunted by the cops for having sex.

      Reason is such a sewer of propaganda these days.

      I’ve seen the author Zuri Davis before. Relatively new. She wrote 4 articles for Aug 3. 4 articles in one day. She’s the future here at Reason.

      Oh, Happy Day!

  14. This is bringing a flame war to a whole new level. It’s one of the rare moments when I think a Twitter backlash is appropriate. Those arrests should not have made it into the news.

  15. I like how the lawyer conveniently left out the fact that the consensual sex was taking place in a business open to the general public.

    1. Facts are not on their side. Cannot pound the facts.

      Law is most likely not on their side. Cannot pound the law.

      Therefore, must pound the table.

      1. Pounding is what got them in trouble in the first place! Ba-Dum-Tsss

    2. A motel is a business open to the public but you get to bang your special lady there. And families visit those. Not many parents stumbling with their kids into the Pleasure Emporium and ponying up the dough to go into the back rooms.

      1. Jesus libertarians are assholes

        1. Yes we are. When libertarians stop being assholes I quit.

        2. Jesus libertarians are assholes

          Plenty of libertarians are not. Must be the Jesus part that’s the problem. Jesus-free libertarians rule!

      2. The residents around the business may simply not want the kind of people who have sex in the back of a video store anywhere in their neighborhood.

        1. South Florida may not be the place for them, but Cuba is a short hop across the water. It’s probably a home buyer’s market there and they know how to keep their gays off the streets.

        2. What if the residents around there don’t want the kind of law enforcement officers that waste time and taxpayers’ money on this kind of ridiculous and victimless crime?

      3. Once you check in, your motel room is no longer open to the public. Big difference.

    3. open to the general public

      Actually, it was open to the paying public, at $25 a pop.

      1. The paying public is the general public.

      2. “a pop”

        I bet it was per person, not per pop.

      3. “a pop”

        I bet it was per person, not per pop.

    4. Oh come on. I would bet the business is not open to the “general” public as entry is likely restricted to adults over 18. Second, if some naive and repressed over-18 person did wander in, not knowing what to expect, the racks full of dildoes, naughty lingerie, and X-rated DVDs probably would tip them off that it’s not a place for those with crippling hang ups.

      And back rooms are called that for a reason: they are not visible/open to the rest of the store. You might as well argue that because pooping in the middle of the street is illegal, no one should poop in the bathroom located at the back of a “open to the public” store, either. Last time I was in a store’s restroom, the walls were not glass so shoppers could see inside.

      1. It’s not a “back room” in this story in the sense you’re talking about. It’s a room you pay to go into.

        A bathroom (or dressing room, or locker room, etc) is not a good analogy because it is expected that you are not visible to others while pooping, and in any case it is necessary to expose oneself for the intended purpose of the place..

    5. It’s not as if this was happening at Chuck E. Cheese. That there was sex happening st a sex shop is not particularly surprising not offensive to most patrons, I imagine.

  16. I agree that there was no reason to publicly shame these people. The cops ran an undercover sting. There is justification for shutting down a locked sex room with a $25 fee if that violates community rules and standards. It was going on and no harm to anyone else. Everyone who was there knew the deal.

    All the police needed to do was approach the store owner and let them know they have evidence. There are no locked private sex rooms allowed.

    Tinder on the other hand is just fine.

    1. Is it just me, or are sting operations just proof that a police department has too much time on their hands [or too big a budget]? With little or no complaint in hand, off they go…

  17. Two questions:

    Who the hell reported this to the cops in the first place, and why isn’t his name and photo all over the news?

    How did the police/news service/writer of this article come to the conclusion that the person arrested for an act “on himself” was also gay? That’s a bit of a leap, innit guv?

    1. He had his hand wrapped around a cock. That’s pretty gay!

      1. His own? That actually counts?!?

    2. The informant isn’t all over the news because they didn’t break any laws.

  18. So Reason is now in favor of self-censorship and lack of transparency in government functions?

    Arrest events are public record for a reason, to prevent the govt from “disappearing” people. I suppose you’d like to make criminal trials secret also, for “the privacy of the defendant”? Note that the govt often feigns concern for the privacy of victims of govt abuse when it tries to cover up said abuse.

    1. Self-censorship on the part of journalists isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (They’re certainly self-censoring away glaring questions about the police operations themselves.) Publishing by news organizations the mugshots of those accused of victimless crimes serves mostly prurient interests, not transparency.

      That problem is compounded by the nature of the enforcement itself. State agents injecting themselves into consensual and, yes, nonpublic acts (it would be different if they were in view of the public) ticks off several libertarian concerns. It’s a violation of the NAP, an increase in state influence in private matters and it’s misuse of limited public resources.

  19. Local papers everywhere do the same thing to straight people having consensual sex.

    1. Indeed they do. Unless it’s adultery it doesn’t quite have the same stigma (and even then…) but trumpeting the enforcement of the laws against these victimless crimes can be damaging to personal and professional lives across the spectrum. But it’s a cheap and easy way to get eyes on their products.

      The Fourth Estate may not exactly be enemies of the people, but they can stop pretending to be the stalwart friend.

  20. They didn’t get arrested for having consensual sex. They got arrested for having sex in a public place. No one was going to arrest them for sex at home and out of sight. A live sex show in a club would also be busted, though it was consensual. Arrests are a public matter. And newspapers have no responsibility to protect you from your own illegal behavior.

    Until such behavior is made legal – which would be fine with me – if you don’t want to do the societal time, don’t do the crime.

    1. If I’m reading that correctly, you’re ambivalent about the criminalization of consensual acts but as long as they are considered criminal by the state you have no beef with allegations against individuals being touted. They brought it on themselves as a consequence of being accused. You have remarkable trust in legislators, law enforcement and the criminal justice system in general..

    2. How is it a locked room (where you apparently have to pay $25 to enter), located inside a sex-themed store that doesn’t admit any minors, qualifies as a public place?

      I’m not so much of a libertine that I think people going at it on a street corner, or a park bench, or a supermarket isle should be okay. A person just going about their day, buying groceries, etc., doesn’t need to see a live sex show they did not sign up for.

      But if you start defining even locked interior rooms with access available only by request (and a fee) as “public” then how can a bedroom or other area in the average home or apartment still be off limits for anti-privacy snoopers?

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  22. “found gay men allegedly performing sex acts either on themselves…”

    So, does it make one gay to peform a sex act on yourself? If so, I’m here, I’m very queer, get used to it!

    1. Remember the article here on Reason about the teen boy charged who took nude selfies and was charged with the manufacture of child porn? Once the door is open to self-directed stuff being treated that way, the sky’s the limit. Kid plays with himself: that’s molestation. Throw away some of your belongings: that’s theft. Plan to commit suicide: you’re conspiring to commit murder.

      1. I recall an essay that pointed out that self-love was, unavoidably, homosexual.

  23. Something is truly missing here: arrests are public record. So are Florida police blissfully unaware of Lawrence v Texas? Perhaps… but this was a business not a home. But what of local media who have a tradition of reporting on arrests in the areas they serve? Papers across the country post mug shots all the time. If some people are waving the LGBT card demanding special treatment or claiming discrimination… they are demanding exactly that. If a free press cannot comment on public record, the first amendment is dead. So here we are with an uncomfortable story, that just might have begun with another case that passed most people by, where SCOTUS declared the PGA a public accomodation – and that was a true professional club you couldn’t just buy a ticket to access. Thumbs down to the Miami Herald for cratering to the pink mafia and abandoning their journalist credentials. Are they only going to post pictures of black guys arrested for petty crimes? They will get their butts sued off, and maybe by the DOJ. Our real question is why is a city licensing a business then picking off their clients? They can’t be confused about what it is.

  24. One neat thing about character assassination is that it can work both ways. Another is that the initiators get to live through some expensive regrets once the retaliation makes itself felt.

  25. Police arresting people for non-public? victimless crimes that’s happening with the knowledge and permission of the venue? Surely this is something that libertarians will get behind as inappropriate government action!

    Oh, no, wait. Gay folk are involved. A whole mess of y’all found silly excuses to justify this. Stated preferences and revealed preferences and all that jazz.
    ________
    ?Multiple doors, including one you had to pay a fee for? This may legally be “public”, but only if you ignore al reason.

  26. That should get these guys a lot of new “dates”!

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