Although sex in public and solicitation of “unnatural carnal copulation” for money are illegal in Louisiana, neither element was part of these 12 cases, and most of the men were arrested after agreeing to have sex away from the park at a private residence, District Attorney Hillar Moore III told the newspaper.
Moore said, “From what I’ve seen of these cases, legally, we found no criminal violation.”
Metro Councilman John Delgado said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux owes an apology to the men arrested and the entire parish.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that a Texas sodomy law was invalid. Louisiana was among nine states which had such laws. Richard Ieyoub, then attorney general, said the high court’s ruling made Louisiana’s law unenforceable.
However, “crime against nature” remains part of Louisiana law, punishable by up to five years at hard labor and a $2,000 fine. The criminal code accessible through the Legislature’s website states that “Crime against nature is the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex or with an animal.”
Gautreaux has told the Capital City Alliance, an LGBT group, that deputies “will no longer be enforcing this law until the courts or the legislature removes it.
The sheriff’s office sent a statement to the newspaper saying it “should have taken a different approach” to worries about park safety, the newspaper reported.
“We will consult with others in the legislative and judicial branches to see what can be done to remove this law from the criminal code that each deputy receives and to also find alternative ways to deter sexual and lewd activity from our parks,” it said.
The sheriff’s office said it only meant to respond to calls from parents, park officials and members of the public about safety concerns at parks.
“When we receive reports of public masturbation, sex and other lewd activity in a park where children are playing, we must take these concerns seriously,” the statement says. “Our intent was honorable. Our approach, however, is something we must evaluate and change.”
In an email to the sheriff’s office, Delgado wrote that its response on Sunday sensationalized the matter by using terms like “lewd conduct” and “public masturbation” and suggesting that children were present during the arrests.
“The newspaper article makes it quite clear that nothing of the sort occurred in these 12 arrests,” Delgado says. “These men were arrested even though they were innocent of any crime.”
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said the office has no record of being informed that the District Attorney’s Office would not pursue charges in the cases.
On the Web…
Criminal code: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/law.aspx?d=78695