Ohio High Court Okays Secret Video
Data Lounge, May 2, 2003
COLUMBUS, Oh.—In a unanimous
ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court turned aside the appeal of a gay man convicted
of public indecency in a 2001 restroom sting operation and let stand a ruling
that gives police the right to videotape people using public restrooms without
The court made no comment on the case. It let stand a
December 18, 2002 ruling by the Seventh Ohio District Court of Appeals that
James Henry, 48, of Empire had “no reasonable expectation of privacy so long
as he remained in the common area” of the restroom.
The opinion is in direct conflict with U.S. Supreme Court
decisions that cameras in public restrooms, locker rooms, jail cells, and
dressing rooms constitute illegal searches and thus violate the Fourth
Henry’s conviction in a Jefferson County Court is based
on a tape showing him in the restroom for 47 seconds on May 9, 2001. The tape
shows Henry entering, standing at the urinal, and leaving the restroom.
Prosecutors convinced the jury that because Henry stepped back from the urinal
before fastening his pants, anyone entering the restroom “could have” come
to the conclusion that he was masturbating.
“It’s politics,” said Henry of his conviction.
“If the same thing happens to a judge’s son or daughter that isn’t gay,
see what happens.” He expressed disappointed that no LGBT advocacy
organization showed interest in his case. He said that his having to fight
alone is a sign of community weakness.
“As long as we have to fight alone,” said Henry,
“we have to sit back and take it.” Asked if he planned to appeal the case
to the U.S. Supreme Court, Henry was firm. After spending more than $5,000 in
legal fees, “I’m going to drop it,” he said. “I’m not spending any
more money. It’s done.”
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