East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux will stop assigning undercover officers to harass gay men, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Twelve gay men were arrested under the state’s unconstitutional “crimes against nature” law, comparable to Texas’ “homosexual conduct law.” The unenforceable Louisiana law carries a penalty of five years in prison.
Although the district attorney refused to prosecute any of the cases, the sheriff only backed down under threat of lawsuits and after bad publicity.
The newspaper laid blame on Gautreaux, calling him a lunkhead. But the editorial also pointed to the state Legislature’s refusal to repeal the law found unconstitutional in 2003 in the Lawrence v. Texas case.
The arrested men spent between $7,500 and $12,000 each in bonds and legal fees. The sheriff’s department is talking to lawyers about paying those fees. Attorneys say there are additional cases dating back to 2005, according to the local CBS affiliate. Lawsuits against the sheriff’s department are expected.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department, which offered three different versions of an apology on its Facebook page, has now taken down the Facebook page altogether. Mounting comments weren’t at all sympathetic to the plight of the poor besieged sheriff.
But maybe the fourth time’s the charm. The true indication of an apology is that the sheriff is now working with legislators to remove the law from the books.
In his last written apology on Facebook, the sheriff said he was sorry “the way these investigations were handled made it appear that we were targeting the gay community.”
First, there was no investigation going on. An investigation happens when police are looking into a crime that was committed. No crime was committed. This was clearly nothing more than entrapment — entrapping gay men to do something that is completely legal.
Second, it absolutely targeted the gay community. There was no similar sting aimed at straight people. “That was not our intent,” he wrote. Well, that was clearly his intent. There was no other intent. The intent was to use an unconstitutional law to harass gay men.
Lying isn’t the best way to apologize. An honest apology would have admitted wrongdoing first before admitting the department was wrong and promising to stop.
He does clearly state that the “crimes against nature” law is unconstitutional and won’t be used in the future.
Not only has the sheriff department’s page disappeared from Facebook, but so has a page opposing the sheriff called “East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office Targets Gay Men,” which had given the sheriff the nickname Sid “Gotta Go” Gautreaux.