Last edited: February 14, 2005

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Gay Defendant in Park Sting Arrest

Limited Progress in Alamo City

The Texas 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 Antonio’s 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 can’t 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 they’ve 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 nonetheless."

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 Attorney’s Office, and law enforcement," he said. "Some Assistant DA’s 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 client’s 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 court’s 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 can’t 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 gays."

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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