Stopped while crusing: Sex sting brings issue to light

The Internet has opened the closet door for people who want to have sex in public places. Men in Huntsville and male students at Sam Houston State University are using the Internet and “cruising” to find public places where people meet to participate in sexual activities.

Using the Internet sites and to find other men with their same sexual preferences and tastes; men have been setting up meeting places in public restrooms, parks and businesses in the city of Huntsville and on the campus of Sam Houston State University.

The Newton Gresham Library fourth floor men’s restroom has been identified on the Web site as a meeting place for men who frequent the site. The boards includes information on where and when to meet.

“Fourth floor restroom tonight[I’ll be doing things to myself]u can either watch me or join me” message board, posted April 23, 2006.

Other meeting locations on campus include the bathrooms in Academic Building I and a bathroom in the Lowman Student Center.

“The SHSU campus has a bookstore in the LSC. There is a cruisy restroom just past it. The tiles in there give off enough of a reflection to see into the stall next to you. you can see who is inside. I’ve given a couple of peep shows there.” message board, posted April 11, 2006.

While making contact with someone over the Internet and participating in consensual sex is not a crime, taking those experiences into public places is. Capt. Kevin Morris from UPD said sex in public restrooms on campus has not been a problem for the past few years, but there was one instance where the department was receiving complaints about this type of behavior.

“Several years ago, we received a report of this type of activity occurring on the fourth floor of the library,” Morris said. “At that time the process that took place to fix the problem was the renovation of the bathroom to help limit those types of activities from occurring.”

Morris said that it is typical for an officer on patrol to run across people having sex in their cars in the parking lots on campus, at which point the officer typically gives people participating in these types of activities a warning.

If people do not take their business elsewhere, Morris said a ticket can be issued, depending on the situation, for disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor, which is the equivalent of a traffic ticket. A more severe type action can be taken and someone can be charged with public lewdness, a Class C misdemeanor that can result in arrest.

If the University Police Department does not receive any complaints from students or faculty concerning this problem, Morris said the department has no way of knowing for sure if these types of activities are occurring. The community, Morris said, decides whether or not this is an issue and they need to voice their concerns.

Some of the other areas in Huntsville identified on these sites were Kate Barr Ross Park, Eastham Thomason Park, The Sam Houston Statue, the picnic area south of the statue, Home Depot and the Sam Houston National Forest Lone Star Hiking Trail.

To help control these activities, the Walker County Sheriff’s Department recently completed a sting operation addressing this issue.

Lt. Charlie Perkins from the Walker County Sheriff’s Department said the department was notified of these activities after they received a complaint from a resident who witnessed two people having sex in a local park. The department then began working to devise sting operations at a few local parks that were identified on these same Web sites as meeting areas.

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The only successful sting operation was set-up at Eastham Thomason Park.

“Detective Barrett and Detective Smith were approached by an individual who wanted to have sex with them,” Perkins said. “He exposed himself and was arrested at around 11:30 a.m. So within two hours of setting up we had an arrest.”

The suspect, Gregory Williams, was arrested for indecent exposure on April 13.

Because of time constraints and man power constraints, Perkins said the department had to end their investigations shortly after he was arrested.

The department completed other sting operations with the help of the Huntsville Police Department, but they were unsuccessful. Detective Jerry Meadors from the Huntsville Police Department said although the sting he worked was unsuccessful; it was not a bad thing. Meadors said that he hopes the arrest from the first sting sent a warning to people who participate in these activities, whoever that might be.

“We really wanted to get the point across that these operations are not intended to go after any certain group of individuals as far as homosexuals or heterosexuals; someone’s sexual preference is not of concern to us,” Jerry Meadors said.

While and are two sites that host male to male cruising for sexual encounters, other people with different sexual preferences participate in these types of activities as well.

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