Last edited: February 14, 2005

Judge Delays Decision on Suit Over Rest Area Ban

Boston Herald, September 2, 1999

By Maggie Mulvihill

A judge yesterday put off a decision on whether police can ban a state psychologist convicted of soliciting sex from stopping his car at highway rest areas.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Wendi Gershengorn yesterday declined to immediately issue a court order barring state troopers from requiring Robert D. Giberti, 55, of Orleans to leave rest areas, pending a status conference on the matter on Sept. 28.

Gershengorn said from the bench she was hopeful both parties could settle the matter out-of-court before that date.

Giberti sued three members of the state police in Middlesex Superior Court, claiming they are harassing him by banning him from Cape Cod area rest stops.

A licensed psychologist and social worker at a state-run facility, Giberti claims he is being targeted by state Trooper Shawn Walsh because he was convicted of soliciting sex at a Wareham rest stop in 1998.

Giberti’s probation required him to stop going to the Wareham rest stop, according to court documents.

Giberti admitted during his trial he had frequented the area to solicit men for sex, according to an internal memorandum written by State Police Major John J. Kelley, who conducted an internal investigation into Walsh’s conduct.

Giberti denies he engages in sexual activity at rest areas, according to court documents. But his attorneys argued in court documents he cannot be banned from stopping his vehicle at other area rest stops near his home as long as he is not committing a crime.

Giberti’s attorney, Mary L. Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said the state police cannot ban citizens from public spaces without probable cause that a crime is about to be committed.

Assistant Attorney General Michelle O’Brien, who represents the state police, declined to comment when asked if her clients violated the law by ordering Giberti to leave the Cape Cod rest areas. But she added, "From this point forward, the state police intend to comply with the law."

Bonauto said in court documents the troopers are unfairly targeting Giberti because he is gay. She said she wants the department to implement education programs to remind troopers of citizens’ rights to legally use public space.

"Education is an ongoing process," she said.

State police have beefed up their patrols of highway rest areas after a 17-year-old youth claimed he was raped by two men at a Norwell area rest stop known as a cruising spot for sex.

Giberti, who is gay, began working for the state more than 20 years ago, according to a highly-placed official within the Cellucci administration. Currently he is on a medical leave from his position as a mental health coordinator for a state-run acute mental health care facility on Cape Cod, the source said.

Giberti’s medical leave from the Cape Cod and Islands Community Mental Health Center in Pocasset began about Feb. 1, the source said.

The 16-bed in-patient facility treats seriously mentally ill adults for such ailments as schizophrenia.

No children or teenagers are treated at the center, the source said.

Giberti is licensed as a social worker and a psychologist with the state Board of Registration, and his licenses are in good standing, said a spokesman for the board.

He has no disciplinary action on his record, the spokesman said.

Giberti did not return a telephone message left at his home on the Cape last night.

Bonauto declined to comment about Giberti yesterday beyond what was discussed in court pleadings and in yesterday’s hearing.

But earlier she pointed out that Giberti is fearful of the state police and publicity about his case.

She also added he was only convicted of a misdemeanor offense which would not require him to register as a sex offender.

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