Virginia Park now Taken Over by Gay Sex
October 1, 2002
3600 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002
By Jon Ward, The Washington Times
Forty years ago, families, church groups and Boy Scout troops would gather
and play at Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County, now
notorious for homosexual trysts.
"There’d be 20 to 30 cars in there, kids running around and parents
cooking out," said a Gainesville woman in her late 50s who asked to be
identified only as Betty.
"We used to go down there and cook hamburgers and hot dogs, having a
good old time. It’s gorgeous back there," she said. "Now I don’t
even want to go back there. They completely ruined it."
Gainesville’s 4,382 residents are forced to co-exist with the state-owned
nature reserve, known for the past 10 years as a site where men meet
anonymously and engage in sex acts.
Virginia State Police recently have targeted sex offenders at Conway
Robinson, a 400-acre wooded wildlife park on Route 29. Police conducted a
sting operation in May that resulted in more than 30 arrests and another last
week that resulted in 23 arrests.
Troopers noted that many of the men were brazen in their sexual activities,
and some even sexually assaulted undercover officers, said Prince William
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Claiborne T. Richardson II, who is
prosecuting the cases.
"Some officers were approached and asked to perform certain
acts," said Mr. Richardson. "If they refused, then some of the
individuals tried to grab the officers, either around the face or the head. It
was extremely bold and blatant."
The park is not safe, he said. "I wouldn’t go there."
State police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell told The Washington Times
that the stings have had little effect in stemming sexual activity at the
park. "It’s just as popular as ever," she said.
Betty said she raised two children in Gainesville but never allowed them to
go to Conway Robinson.
John, 74, who has lived in Gainesville for more than 40 years, expressed
anger over the loss of the park. "I don’t understand those kind of
people," he said, "but it’s a shame that people can’t use the
John and Betty said the problems at Conway Robinson began about 10 years
ago after police began driving illegal sexual activity out of the rest stop on
Interstate 66 near the border of Fairfax and Prince William counties.
Manassas National Battlefield Park also has had problems with men engaging
in public sex but to a lesser degree, largely because a full-time staff
patrols the grounds.
Men meet for anonymous sex in public places across the United States, and
such activity has been happening for at least 15 years in Virginia. One
homosexual-oriented Web site lists locations by state where men seek public
sex. The 22 locations listed in Virginia include department-store bathrooms,
parks and rest stops.
Authorities targeted Conway Robinson after a Boy Scout troop in March found
men engaged in sexual activity. The troop leader notified state Delegate
Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, who urged a police
"It all got started because of other people trying to use the park—Cub
Scouts and people walking their dogs—when people were having sex in the park
and not trying to hide themselves when people walked up on them. In fact, they
would invite people to watch, whether they were people they knew or not,"
Mr. Richardson said.
Mr. Richardson said most of the convicted sexual offenders have received
one-year suspended sentences, and those with criminal records serve about 10
days of their sentences.
Repeat offenders will be forced to serve the remainder of their sentences,
he said, and those who are aggressive or resist arrest are prosecuted more
Homosexual rights groups have not protested the stings, said Frank Kameny,
co-founder of the D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society, a homosexual rights
group based in Los Angeles. [sic. Frank Kameny founded the Mattachine Society
of Washington, an independent organization with no formal connection to the
formerly national organization then based in San Francisco. -Bob]
Mr. Kameny said he would take issue with any arrests for solicitation of
sodomy or public sex. He said it would be a double standard because all
solicitations for sodomy, public or private, are illegal in Virginia.
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