Gay State Employee Sues State Police For Pestering Him At Local Rest Stops
Cape Cod Times,
September 1, 1999
319 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601
Gay state employee sues state police for pestering him at local rest stops
By Dan Ring, Ottaway News Service
BOSTON A state clinical psychologist from Cape Cod is suing the Massachusetts
State Police, contending they are violating his civil rights by harassing him and ordering
him to leave rest areas in Sandwich and Wareham because he is gay.
Identified only as "John Doe" in court papers, the man contends he is
"deeply humiliated" by the "apartheid-like treatment" of the state
The man was convicted of a misdemeanor of lewd and lascivious behavior in Feb. 1998 in
Wareham District Court after having sex with another man in the woods adjacent to a
Wareham rest area. He was fined $125 and placed on probation for a year.
Timothy Burke, lawyer for the state police union, said yesterday the lawsuit is
"This is not a case of sexual preference," Burke said. "This is a case
of ... openly and actively soliciting sex in public. It is a crime and state police intend
to enforce it. They owe that much to the public."
In his lawsuit, the man said that after his 1998 arrest, he stopped engaging in sexual
activities in rest areas. But he said he still enjoys stopping at rest areas to make calls
on his cell phone and occasionally meet another man for sex that occurs at a later time at
a personal residence.
John Doe alleges that Trooper Shawn Walsh of the Bourne barracks ordered him to leave a
rest area on the westbound side of Route 6 in Sandwich. He said he is suffering emotional
and physical distress because police are stigmatizing him and treating him like a
Mary Bonauto, the lawyer for John Doe, yesterday declined to comment in detail, but she
did criticize the state police.
"We all recognize that police have a job to do," said Bonauto, who works for
Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston. "But they really got it wrong in
this instance. This is not a case about any kind of conduct. The only conduct at issue is
my client was sitting in a car, talking on his telephone and walking to his car. He should
not have been ejected from any public space for that reason."
According to the lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court, Walsh once approached John Doe in
the Sandwich rest area and said, "You have no right to be here." When the man
attempted to ask a question, Walsh said, "People like you dont get to ask
questions," the lawsuit said.
In June, 1998, John Doe alleges, Walsh began yelling at him to leave the rest area
after he saw him walking to his car in the Sandwich rest area.
Back in June, 1994, another trooper confronted him a rest area in Wareham and told him
to leave or he would be arrested and locked up "with the other perverts."
Doe also names Lt. Andrew Martin and Maj. John Kelley in his lawsuit. Doe said the
state police supervisors defended and endorsed Walshs actions after he complained
The gay man alleges that it is not a crime to go to rest areas and meet other men for
social or sexual purposes. In fact, state law bans discrimination in public places on the
basis of sexual orientation, the lawsuit said.
Doe said he no longer goes to rest areas, but would like to continue the practice. He
is asking a judge to bar the state police from requiring him to leave rest areas when
there is no probable cause to believe he is committing a crime.
Burke, the state-police lawyer, said Trooper Walsh was only doing his job. He said rest
areas are hot spots for several crimes including drug trafficking and assaults.
"The trooper acted reasonably," Burke said. "He acted in accordance with
what the law requires him to do."
Burke stressed that if state police catch any men soliciting women for sex in rest
areas, they also will be arrested.
[Home] [News] [Massachusetts]