Last edited: January 02, 2005


34 of 35 Gage Park arrestees convicted

The Topeka Capital-Journal, August 28, 1995

By Tim Hrenchir
The Capital-Journal

All but one of the 35 Gage Park homosexual soliciting cases resolved so far in Topeka Municipal Court has ended with a conviction or diversion agreement, court records show.

Only one case, which was against a 17-year-old youth, has been dismissed.

Several cases are yet to go to court, with one hearing scheduled for today and another for next week.

Topeka police conducting sting operations since November have arrested 61 men in connection with solicitation of sodomy at Gage Park. The arrests were made under a city law that makes it a misdemeanor to solicit acts of prostitution or sodomy. Police most recently made 17 such arrests during a sting operation Aug. 15 and 16.

Members of a local gay-rights group afterward questioned whether police conducting the stings are going beyond the ordinance and charging people with soliciting for just talking.

Three groups scheduled a "What s Really Going on in Gage Park?" forum for 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Washburn University School of Law.

Police Chief Gerald Beavers turned down an invitation to appear at the forum, saying officers arrest only people who specifically ask a plainclothes officer for sexual services, and they tape-record those conversations to prove it.

Beavers said almost every solicitation arrest--of those resolved to date in Topeka Municipal Court--has resulted in a conviction.

Municipal Court records bear that out.

Those records show police before this month had made 44 soliciting arrests: 28 in November and December, two in January, two in February, then 12 in late April and early May.

Municipal Court records show 35 of those 44 cases have been resolved.

Thirty-two resolved cases ended in convictions, two in diversion agreements and one in a dismissal.

Most of the men convicted hadn't contested solicitation charges. Municipal Court records show how the men convicted are being dealt with:

  • All but one were ordered to pay fines that were between $50 and $150, plus court costs. In most of those cases the men initially were given higher fines, which were then paroled to the lower amount. One man, after a court trial, was sentenced to a fine and jail term, then paroled from both but ordered to pay court costs.
  • Twenty-four of the men convicted were sentenced to jail terms ranging from five to 179 days. But most, if not all, of those men were paroled from their jail sentences.
  • Six of the men convicted were ordered to stay out of Gage Park for one year, and three for two years.
  • Both men who received diversion agreements were sentenced to pay a $100 fine, court costs and a $50 diversion fee.
  • Police allege two men are repeat offenders. One was arrested late last year, placed on diversion, then arrested again in January and convicted of solicitation. The other--who had been ordered to stay out of the park after a soliciting conviction--was arrested there this month in connection with soliciting and criminal trespassing. The latter case is pending.
  • Authorities chose to have one man, arrested in the park in December, charged in Shawnee County District Court with lewd and lascivious behavior, a misdemeanor. District Court records indicate that the man accepted a diversion agreement.

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