UPDATE: Fort Worth won't drop charges against Rainbow Lounge patrons

Jon Nelson
Jon Nelson

Chad Gibson and George Armstrong appeared in court this week to answer misdemeanor charges related to the Rainbow Lounge raid. Gibson and Armstrong were both injured in the raid.

Jon Nelson, an attorney who was a founder of Fairness Fort Worth, said, “Apparently with Chad, he’s being charged with public intoxication and assaulting an officer by groping him. That’s absurd.

“This is the TABC officer who, according to TABC’s own rules and regulations, had no business being in there. This is the same TABC officer who couldn’t go in the Rainbow Lounge a few days earlier because there was no officer with him so he peeked in and saw a dancer in a bathing suit and was going to write it up as lewd behavior.

“That shows quite a bit about his state of mind. As a TABC officer, I’m sure he’s been in a number of gentlemen’s clubs. I doubt he ever wrote up a female dancer in a bathing suit and wrote her up for lewd behavior. So why was he doing that for Rainbow Lounge?

“I think a jury, when they hear this case, will judge his credibility,” Nelson said.

Gerald Pruitt, Fort Worth deputy city attorney, said Gibson is charged with class-C misdemeanors for public intoxication and simple assault. Armstrong is charged with one — public intoxication. A class-C misdemeanor carries a maximum fine of $500 plus court costs.

Four other Rainbow Lounge patrons were charged with public intoxication. Two pleaded guilty but have now rescinded their pleas. All four of the others are expected to go to trial at a later date.

Pruitt said, “We’re proceeding with these as we would any other case. That’s all we can do.”

Gibson and Armstrong’s criminal defense attorney is Adam L. Seidel, past president of the Dallas LGBT Bar Association.

Seidel said, “The city’s own investigation revealed serious misconduct. TABC’s own investigation revealed serious misconduct. Officers were fired and/or suspended. The city’s message was, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s not the message they send by prosecuting these two victims.”

No trial date has been set for Gibson and Armstrong.

Win or lose, the city gets a black eye. If they win, Fort Worth appears to be bullies, prosecuting someone who spent a week in intensive care as a result of the raid. If they lose, they just appear to be gay bashing.

—  David Taffet