Alex Blaze

Falsely-accused gay man sues police

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 13, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: NYC cops, police entrapment, police harrassment, porn shops

Remember that story about gay men being arrested in a porn shop in NYC because they didn't immediately citizen arrest the undercover cop who proposed prostitution to them? Well, one of the police's victims is fighting back:

"The actions taken against the Plaintiff in targeting him, entrapping him, arresting him, taking him into custody, and otherwise detaining him and prosecuting him were taken for collateral objectives other than the legitimate objectives associated with an arrest and prosecution," wrote James I. Meyerson, the attorney for Robert Pinter, in a Sept. 10 filing.

Pinter, 53, was arrested in October last year in Blue Door Video on First Ave. after a younger, Asian-American man flirted with him and suggested the two leave the store for consensual sex in a nearby car. As they were exiting, the young man, who told Pinter he was 29, said he would pay Pinter $50 for oral sex. Pinter said he ignored that comment and was then busted for prostitution.

Initially, Pinter pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and received a small fine and a light sentence. He challenged that plea earlier this year and it was vacated. The case was reopened and the charge was dismissed.

Gay City News also explains how his case, and those of other gay and bi men like him, were part of a political ploy to get rid of the shops in which they were arrested:

Pinter is one of at least 30 gay and bisexual men who were arrested for prostitution in at least six Manhattan porn shops in 2008, many in Chelsea and West Midtown. The Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement and the Police Department's legal unit, in separate cases, then cited those arrests in nuisance abatement lawsuits brought against those shops. The suits aimed at closing the stores.

The police aren't above arresting people and turning their lives, families, and careers into casualties in a city's efforts to get rid of shops that it deemed undesirable but have been unsuccessful in straight-up banning, and we've recently seen this behavior in other large cities.

It's good that Pinter is fighting back. I said it back when Larry Craig's arrest became public - there's absolutely no reason to admit to having done anything in any of these cases where cops try to bag a fag. It doesn't prevent the charges from getting out; it only encourages the cops to do more of the same to other queer men.

Another lawyer is taking up some of these cases and has had some success in the past:

Attorney Michael Spiegel also has clients who were arrested by police officers from that squad in porn shops or spas, and he expects to file suit in federal court as well.

In 2005, Spiegel represented a gay man arrested for public lewdness in a police sting in 2000 in a World Trade Center bathroom. He won a $1.1 million judgment for his client that was later reduced to $464,000, with a separate award of just more than $300,000 in attorney's fees.

Good on him. It's the only way to teach the cops a lesson.


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