The Long Beach Police Department has messed with the wrong gay.
Rory Moroney is currently fighting charges of lewd conduct and indecent exposure after an undercover officer says he caught the 50-year-old Long Beach resident masturbating inside a public restroom.
The alleged incident happened in October 2014 inside a men’s restroom at Recreation Park. The decoy, a male officer from the Long Beach Police Department’s vice unit, purportedly lured Moroney into the restroom then coaxed him into masturbating only to arrest him as soon as he did.
Moroney has pleaded not guilty. Now, he’s bringing out the big guns to fight the charges, enlisting the counsel of attorney Bruce Nickerson, also known as the Gloria Allred of lewd conduct cases and police sting operations targeting gay men.
Nickerson has successfully argued countless cases against corrupt police departments that have used undercover decoys to lure gay men into lewd conduct sting operations, including one case that went all the way to the California Supreme Court back in 1996.
During a hearing this week, Nickerson called Moroney’s arrest “invalid,” citing the 1979 California case Pryor vs. Municipal Court that determined that lewd conduct can only be considered a crime if the accused was in a public place and was aware that his or her conduct would offend another person who was also present.
“If you do an act in a public place and the only person around is the person enjoying it with you, no crime has been committed,” Nickerson argued. “If the person is sending you signals that he likes you, you can’t commit a crime. Police and prosecutors don’t like that, but that’s the law since 1979. That’s why you can’t do those decoy sting operations.”
If Moroney’s case moves forward and he is found guilty, he will have to register for life as a sex offender, a punishment Nickerson calls absolutely “outrageous.”
“To hit a person with a lifetime registration for something as innocuous as someone showing his equipment when no one is around to another man who got signals from the decoy that he was interested is horrendously vicious,” he argued.
Doug Haubert, the city prosecutor, said yesterday that he cannot comment on a pending case.
h/t: Press Telegram