Importuning’s Last Gasp
Police Charge Toledo Man, but He Knew the Law Had Been Struck Down
People’s Chronicle, June 21, 2002
P.O. Box 5426, Cleveland, Ohio 44101
By Eric Resnick
Bryan, Ohio—A Toledo man may have been the last
Ohioan charged with importuning, until he told police the law had been struck
Peter van Herwaarden, 63, was charged after he sent a sexual letter to a
man he met on a telephone chat line.
Police in Bryan, 45 miles west of Toledo, confirmed that they had to drop
the importuning charges May 30 after van Herwaarden informed them that the
Ohio Supreme Court had voided the law on May 15.
The court found that the 1974 measure, which outlawed asking for gay or
lesbian sex but not heterosexual sex, violated constitutional free speech and
equal protection guarantees.
A complaint was filed against van Herwaarden by Mark Z. Perez, 20, of Bryan
after Perez received the sexually explicit letter from van Herwaarden on May
According to van Herwaarden, the two met on the phone dating line Mega
Phone on May 20, when a man calling himself "Zack" answered his
personal ad. Van Herwaarden said the two had four to five telephone contacts
between May 20 and 22 before he wrote the letter describing the sexual
fantasies he wanted to act out with "Zack."
Perez told police his middle name is Zacharius and his nickname used to be
Zack. Perez claimed to police that he had no idea who van Herwaarden is, and
could not understand how he got his address.
Van Herwaarden said "Zack" called him again after the letter had
been received. Perez confirmed that to police, but said that his mother got
the number from directory assistance and he called to see why the letter was
Van Herwaarden said Zack was different during that call and told him that
the letter had been intercepted by someone else in the home. The Gay People’s
Chronicle confirmed independently that the cell phone number given to van
Herwaarden reaches Perez.
But Perez told Detective Jeff Arnold that he wanted to press charges
against van Herwaarden.
Arnold contacted van Herwaarden the morning of May 30 and told him he was
going to be charged with importuning.
Bryan city attorney Rhonda Fisher confirmed that Arnold had consulted with
her on the charges prior to calling van Herwaarden.
Fisher would not say if she would have pursued importuning charges had van
Herwaarden not told Arnold of the Supreme Court ruling.
Instead, she said, "I find what is contained in that letter the most
disgusting thing I have ever seen," and complained, "Now I’m the
one who has to tell [Perez] that there is nothing I can do about this."
After Fisher researched the issue, police declared the case closed. Van
Herwaarden has agreed not to have any further contact with Perez.
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