Alex Blaze

Police chief resigns over cruising sting allegations

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 06, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: cruising for sex, david dominguez, dean gaymon, essex county, palm springs, police

I've been posting about these two gay cruising sting operations a lot because they're both particularly vicious, the one in Palm Springs and the other in Essex County. And there have been developments in both.

david-dominguez.gifIn Palm Springs, the cruising sting was specifically designed to get men to perform acts that would get them on a sex offender registry even after they'd been goaded into committing arrestable offenses. The police chief, who previously denied making anti-gay comments during one of the stings but apologized this week for making those comments, has resigned over the controversy.

And good riddance. A homophobe like that, who knows what he'd do if he had power. He could hatch a scheme with the prosecutor's office to goad men who cruise for sex who've already committed arrestable offenses into doing exactly what it takes to be put on a sex offender registry. Oh, wait.

I've also been wanting to know exactly what the anti-gay comments were that were made since the local news has consistently refused to print the word opting to just say that an "anti-gay slur" was used (while the DA's office insists that it wasn't homophobic, just nasty). A local TV station put the court documents online and we can see what the word was. My money was on "fag," but anyone who guessed "cocksuckers" or "filthy motherfuckers" was right:

In addition to testimony discussed below, it was found at the June hearings that a PSPD officer referred to the Defendants as "cocksuckers." According to a citizen's complaint filed by several unnamed PSPD officers, the officer making this anti-gay slur did so in response to comments made by the Chief of Police, David Dominguez. It is alleged that Chief Dominguez referred to the Defendants as "filthy motherfuckers," thereby creating a discriminatory environment conducive to anti-gay slurs. See Citizen's Complaint Concerning Chief of Police Dominguez, a true and correct copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit B and incorporated herein by reference.

A local activist points out the obvious:

"Every time you lift up the rug, you find another body,"

Indeed, if the media ever bothered to investigate these cruising stings instead of gleefully running stories about them while posting pictures, addresses, and names of everyone arrested, they'd find that there's plenty of scandal going on here. When a police department decides to put so much of its time and resources into stopping gay sex and decides to use techniques that should be reserved for real criminals (instead of sending an officer in uniform to walk through an area a few times if they think there's a problem), then there are usually other things going on in that department worth investigating.

On the other side of the country, the Gay City News has been doing a good job keeping up with the Dean Gaymon investigation. Last year a police officer in a cruising sting killed someone and then made up a rather unbelievable story about what had happened. While the county attorney jumped to defend the officer well before all the facts were out and the state attorney general's office said that was just dandy, it turns out that this officer also has a history of violence against gay men:

While information that identifies the defendants or undercover officers was redacted, Esposito's name was not blacked out in a July 22, 2009 record. In that case, Esposito arrested a 41-year-old man for criminal sexual contact, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault on a police officer in South Mountain Reservation.

According to the report, the man walked up to Esposito and "reached out with his right hand and pulled my penis through my pants while he stated 'nice.'" This occurred without any conversation or prompting. The man pushed Esposito and fled when the detective identified himself, according to the official account. When caught, the man punched Esposito in the chest.

On August 18, 2009, a 48-year-old man was charged with criminal sexual contact, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault on a police officer in South Mountain Reservation after he "began to rub his penis through his pants with his right hand while he sat on a log and groaned," without prompting, in front of an undercover officer. At his arrest, that man allegedly fought with police and was sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray.

The following day, August 19, also in South Mountain Reservation, a 39-year-old man faced the same charges as well as obstruction after he "walked up from behind me and pinched my left buttocks and then reached around and grabbed my genitals and penis while he made a groaning sound," the report said. No conversation preceded that action. He fled when the undercover announced himself and then allegedly fought with police. He was sprayed "in the face" with pepper spray.

While names were redacted in the August 18 and 19 reports, a portion of the text is identical to that in the July 22 report. Other reports that were written at about the same time used different text, suggesting that individual officers have their own standard report language.

Of course, it's entirely possible that gay men just randomly try to rape Esposito while he patrols the woods in plainclothes but don't do it to anyone else. Too bad the county attorney has already shown he isn't one to conduct an in-depth investigation before making judgments.

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I hope that with the resignation comes no fat severance package or hefty benefits...

Kathy Padilla | January 6, 2011 3:35 PM

What? No jail time?

And will any people charged under this entrapment/wrongful prosecution scheme have their records expunged?

I think that's what their lawyer is arguing for. But not all of them are fighting the charges; most already pled guilty.

I'm reading these comments about the Palm Springs incidents and it makes me sick. I worked in a gay bar for many years. I'm not homophobic. I am straight. When I was working in the bar the people I knew, and that included business owners,regular working guys, and service people would use alot more explicit words to describe each other all of the time. To me this kind of talk is two-faced. If someone comes up to me in public and asks me to do something I know is illeagal I would be inclined to tell them no. Quit crying foul and take your lumps.This Police Chief is a good man and put up his life to help people. I hope the cry babies are happy. All this cause someone called someone a "Cocksucker". It makes me sick. I'm not against people doing whatever they want in private. And I don't care if men or women show affection in public. Stop thinking your so special. We're all special.

Sorry Thelaz, but working in a gay bar and being "straight" isnt a basis for knowing about our police chief. But here's the truth. We live 1 mile from the Warm Sands street that is in question. Its on our way to our local hardware store on the next street that we had to visit nearly daily for months during a renovation. DAILY FOR MONTHS not a couple days as discribe in the court action...BUT MONTHS! the "Chief" and his officers wasted THOUSANDS of man hours DAY AND NIGHT watching who was coming and going....WE (the GAY community) were a targeted group. Just driving through made it seem possible for them to watch, then tail us out of the neighborhood for just being other reason. So dont think you know what happened. OH, and they also targeted a local park...and permitted a nice church going(newspaper description) husband and HIS WIFE to bait men with him and then had HER call the police to report men...OH, and mostly married men. If it can happen here it will happen anywhere and does! I'm sure our full pentioned retired police appreciates your support. He should have been fired along with the other officers that participated. There are alot of great officers with PSPD...dont include them in with the "chief" or the others.