Last edited: November 07, 2003

Lawyer Uses Texas Case to Challenge Virginia Sodomy Law

Associated Press, August 14, 2003

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.—An attorney for a man accused of soliciting sex in a public restroom is trying to get the charge dismissed based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning sodomy laws in Texas.

If Norfolk lawyer Jennifer T. Stanton’s motion is granted, it could stop Virginia Beach police from setting up “sting” investigations in public locations frequented by gay men looking for anonymous sex.

Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey L. Bryant III said the motion may be the first attempt to apply the decision in the Texas case to Virginia’s sodomy law. He said Wednesday that he has sent e-mails to all the state’s prosecutors asking how they are pursuing such cases in light of the high court’s ruling in June.

The motion asks that Virginia’s law prohibiting solicitation of an illegal sex act be declared unconstitutional, Stanton said. Circuit Judge Edward W. Hanson Jr. has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 1.

Vice detectives in Virginia Beach actively pursue men who frequent public places such as restrooms and parks in search of sex with strangers, Detective Jarvis D. Lynch said Wednesday.

Lynch made his comments while testifying about the arrest of Joel D. Singson at Pembroke Mall on March 20.

Singson admitted Wednesday that he approached Lynch in a department store restroom. He said Lynch was pretending to look for a sexual encounter.

Singson testified he decided “to go cruise a little bit” after paying a bill at the store. After entering the restroom, Singson said, he approached Lynch’s toilet stall and looked inside.

Both men testified that they exchanged comments regarding a sexual act, but they differed slightly in what was proposed and where the act would take place.

Singson said he wanted to go to a private location outside of the store to consummate the act. Lynch said they agreed to do so in a toilet stall.

Lynch contacted his arrest team via an electronic device and Singson was arrested.

Stanton said Wednesday that if the sodomy law is unconstitutional, then what was solicited was a legal act and the charge should be dismissed.

She also said her motion may not be applicable in all situations where gay sex is concerned.

“This may end up being a case by case situation,” Stanton said.

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