Good on Vermont senator Ed Flanagan. Take a lesson from this lawyer and politician, boys, because he didn't do the stupidest thing you can do when you get arrested for cruising: admit to doing anything wrong.
[Addison County State's Attorney Chris] Perkett said his review of the evidence found that Flanagan did engage in the conduct alleged -- masturbation in open view inside a men's fitness room at the YMCA -- in late July but did not do so intentionally.
"I don't believe beyond a reasonable doubt that he intentionally engaged in the conduct," Perkett said. "More importantly, I don't believe I could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."
Flanagan, a Democrat from Burlington, said he was "relieved" and said he intends to serve out his two-year term before deciding what elective office to seek in 2010.
In an interview, he adamantly denied masturbating at the YMCA, but said he realized his actions could have been misinterpreted by a club member who reported the conduct the YMCA, and later to police.
Did Flanagan jack off in the shower? Who knows and who the hell cares. But what he did do was adamantly deny what he was accused of doing to the police, which counts for something. It's better than Larry Craig, who signed a confession and hoped the whole thing would go away, leaving folks like me screaming at our computer screens. These things never just go away.
It's rare that the cops actually find enough evidence to prosecute any of these cases, and often it's because no crime has actually been committed. Sometimes they arrest dudes just for picking up another guy to have sex back in their apartments, sometimes they're the ones inspiring people to commit crimes, and sometimes the cop offers to pay for sex and then arrests the gay dude for not turning around and running away.
These folks consider "Capture the Fag" a competitive sport. Make them prove their own case - don't just hand it to them. Flanagan did just that (it helps to be a Harvard-educated attorney, but you don't need a degree to keep your mouth shut and sign nothing), and the prosecutor was left with a he said/he said situation that made him sputter about whether Flanagan "intentionally" jacked off in the shower at the Y or not.
I've never cruised in public before (I was just talking about it last night and I realized I haven't even had sex in another room besides the bedroom), but I've read plenty of these stories over the years and known enough people who have been arrested and lied about and just wanted to confess and get out. I've heard enough to say that, if you're going to cruise, have a plan for if you get arrested. You have a right to remain silent, so use it. You also have a right to tell the cops that they're liars when they lie, and use it too.
But don't admit to anything before consulting a lawyer, because most likely these folks don't have as strong a case as you think they do.