Last edited: February 14, 2005

Ohio Police’s Videotaping of Men’s Room Challenged

The Advocate, September 28, 2001

A man challenging police use of hidden video cameras inside a men’s public rest room is attempting to suppress the videotape, reports the Cleveland Gay People’s 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 sheriff’s 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. Henry’s boss, Sheriff Fred Abdalla, is outraged by the local police’s 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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