Here we go again. Another police department accused of luring gay men into public restrooms under the false pretense of sex only to arrest them moments later.
Earlier this year, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the Long Beach Police Department discriminated against gay men by ensnaring them in a homophobic sex sting operation. Before that, it was the New York Police Department that was in hot water for similar discriminatory policing. And before that, it was police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Now, it’s the San Jose Police Department.
John Ferguson was hanging out at Columbus Park in San Jose in 2014 when a man approached him outside a restroom and asked, “How often do you come here?”
Some witty banter ensued before Ferguson followed the man into the empty bathroom. A few minutes later, they were joined by a third man, who unbuttoned his pants.
That’s when a fourth man stormed in, introducing himself as Officer Adam Jenkins of the SJPD. The man Ferguson had been flirting with then whipped out his badge and announced himself as Officer Samuel Marquardt.
And just like that, both Ferguson and the other man became eligible for the sex offender registry.
Ferguson was slapped with a 647 citation, which prohibits hanging around public restrooms with the intention of “engaging in a lewd or lascivious act.” It’s classified as a sex crime, which usually means a $1,000 fine and/or community service, giving up one’s Fourth Amendment rights, and registering as a sex offender.
But here’s where the story takes a bit of twist.
Ferguson was one of 19 other gay men the SJPD slapped with a 647 citation over a 17-month period. 18 of those 19 citations were made by the same same officer, Samuel Marquardt.
According to state transparency records, Marquardt makes $251,186.46 a year in salary, overtime and benefits.
Ferguson spent nearly two years fighting the charges against him. Earlier this summer, a judge finally acquitted him, along with 12 others, then slammed SJPD for its blatantly homophobic practices, writing:
By conducting themselves in a way that mimics ‘cruising’ behavior of the suspects targeted, the undercover officers demonstrated the intent to target this group to the exclusion of other perpetrators of lewd conduct. … Unpopular groups have too often been made to bear the brunt of discriminatory prosecution or selective enforcement. The unconstitutional selective enforcement of the law as seen in the cases before this court undermine the credibility of our legal system and risks eroding public confidence in our ability to achieve just results.
From what we can tell, SJPD has not released a statement about the matter; however, Officer Marquardt does remain employed with the department, collecting his quarter of a million dollars each year, funded by hard-working taxpayers, both straight and gay.
h/t: San Jose Inside