Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Gay Defendant in Park Sting Arrest
Limited Progress in Alamo City
Triangle, August 10, 2001
1012 N. Bishop, Dallas, TX 75208
Tel: 214-946.0401; Fax: 214-946-0402
By Matt Lum
SAN ANTONIO The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
in San Antonio ruled early this week in favor of Alfred Mojica, a gay
defendant who was arrested by Park Rangers in an undercover sting operation
targeting gay men.
According to civil attorney Andrew Thomas, this is but a small victory, and
the ruling still neglects to address the root of the problem, or "the
targeting of gay men in San Antonios parks."
"The biggest problem we are having from the standpoint of the
wrongfully charged defendants, is that 95% of them are so embarrassed by the
charge, either indecent exposure, lewd behavior or assault [sexual] on an
officer, they are afraid to fight," Thomas said.
"Those people who are arrested are afraid of losing their jobs because
of the public notoriety of it, or become so ostracized that all they want to
do is plea and get it out of the way."
Thomas says if more people do not come forward to fight their charges,
there is no way to stop what the Park Rangers are doing.
"By these people not wanting to go to trial and not wanting us to
bring up the important issues of entrapment, outrageous government conduct,
and police lying before the appellate court, we cant stop what the park
rangers are doing."
Park Rangers have three two-man teams on one mission: to arrest people for
what they perceive to be homosexual activity.
The park district has arrested well over 900 men with charges of homosexual
crimes over the last two years.
"Prosecutors twist the hell out of statutes to come up with an offense
and theyve arrested no heterosexual couples. They have arrested hetero men
they perceived to be in homosexual conduct. Even straight men have no
chance," Thomas said.
"Once they engage you, once you are in their sights, very few people
escape that, I can assure you," he continued. "I have interviewed
enough people to know they have not violated the law but were arrested
Thomas says when he asks the officers the important questions on the stand
the judges protect them.
"Homophobia is just running rampant through the judiciary, the
District Attorneys Office, and law enforcement," he said. "Some
Assistant DAs are so homophobic you can get into heated arguments with
these people. Then they all gang up on you."
The court did not comment on the issues Thomas wanted addressed, but his
clients name has now been cleared.
"The court does this because when a new legal theory is brought before
the court, in this case, governmental harassment of a group identified as
having one particular sexual orientation, and their twisting the statute to
make the facts fit the crime or the crime fit the facts, the court usually
rules on the first issue it finds will dispose of the case without having to
get into the issues."
The ruling in favor of Mojica this week basically reversed the lower courts
verdict. It noted the prosecutor was acting more as a persecutor, and stated
the previous judge allowed the jury to be unlawfully biased during the trial.
Thomas says he has brought many similar cases before the court but "I
cant get the men to go on the stand.
"The only way we can do it is to have some guy who is arrested to
bring it to a jury or bench trial and appeal the issues," Thomas said.
"The problem right now is that juries are so prone to believe the cop
that the defendant has a hard time proving his innocence."
The original arresting Park Ranger, Wilson, testified in the initial trial
that he had arrested at least five hundred gay men and no women. He also said
his children play in the park and he "wanted to rid the park of
The officers cited in the attack of the Canadian tourists are still on
active duty patrolling San Antonio Parks and the River Walk.
The undercover operation targeting men in the parks is also ongoing.
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