Last edited: November 23, 2003


AIDS Project Director Gets Ticket at Park

Omaha World-Herald, March 23, 2002
World Herald Square, Omaha, NE 68102
Fax: 402-345-4547

By Karyn Spencer, World-Herald Staff Writer

The executive director of the Nebraska AIDS Project has been ticketed on suspicion of groping an undercover male police officer in a park.

Richard Santee said Friday his arrest shows that project workers need to talk to Omaha police about "how we go about street outreach."

Santee wouldnít say whether he was engaged in outreach work when he got the ticket March 16.

The organizationís previous outreach efforts have included sending teams to hand out condoms and to talk to people at places where risky sexual behavior is likely, said Dr. Mark Goodman, a member of the Nebraska AIDS Projectís board of directors.

"Until itís sorted out, we will stand by Rich," Goodman said. "Heís a good guy."

Omaha Police Sgt. Ron Cole was working undercover at Lake Cunningham in northwest Omaha around 6:15 p.m. March 16, according to his report.

Officers regularly patrol city parks with reputations as places where gay men meet and have sex.

The officer said he chatted for several minutes with Santee, who rubbed his own groin during the conversation, the report said.

Santee asked the officer to get into Santeeís car, the report said. Santee then rubbed the officerís groin for five seconds, the report said.

The officer ticketed Santee on suspicion of lewd conduct, which is defined as an act of a sexual nature offensive to the average person who might observe it.

Santee would not comment on the allegations, saying his side will be come up at trial.

Santee, 52, has been executive director of the Nebraska AIDS Project for two years and had other jobs with the nonprofit agency before then.

The organization offers HIV testing, provides support services for people with AIDS, and organizes fund-raisers such as AIDS Walk Nebraska and Night of a Thousand Stars.

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