Ohio Polices Videotaping of Mens Room Challenged
September 28, 2001
A man challenging police use of hidden video cameras inside a mens
public rest room is attempting to suppress the videotape, reports the
Cleveland Gay Peoples Chronicle. Police in the Jefferson County hamlet of
Toronto, Ohio, surreptitiously videotaped men using the rest room at a highway
rest stop for six months earlier this year and then, using the footage as
evidence, issued arrest notices in July to 13 men on charges of public
indecency, voyeurism, importuning, and disorderly conduct. Twelve of the men
plea-bargained and paid fines for a lesser charge. But James Henry, an openly
gay maintenance supervisor for the Jefferson County sheriffs department, is
fighting his charges of public indecency and disorderly conduct. Henry and his
attorney, Sam Pate, argue that the hidden cameras constitute an illegal
search, and they cite U.S. Supreme Court case law guaranteeing the right to
privacy in public rest rooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and jail cells.
Henrys boss, Sheriff Fred Abdalla, is outraged by the local polices
tactics. "I am not going to condone anyone breaking the law,"
Abdalla said, "but arrests need to be clean, and these were not." At
a September 25 hearing, Judge Joseph Corabi declined to rule on the motion to
suppress the video evidence; trial is set for October 4.
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