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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 11, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 06
Judge continues Palm Springs sex sting case
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Judge continues Palm Springs sex sting case

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Palm Springs Police have won a court victory in their defense of a Gay sex sting that resulted in 19 arrests in 2009.

A Superior Court judge refused to dismiss the charges last week, saying that he did not believe the police discriminated against Gays in the controversial sting.

'These 19 men were not being arrested for being Gay,' said Superior Court Judge David B. Downing as he denied the defense attorney's motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charges. 'They were arrested for having sex in a public place.'

During the trial, lawyers for the men contended that police unfairly targeted them, claiming a lack of complaints from residents in the Warm Sands neighborhood. Former police chief David Dominguez stepped down last month over revelations that he made anti-Gay slurs during the sex sting operation.

The arrests were made by undercover police officers, some of them shirtless, who acted as decoys to engage Gay men in the city's Warm Sands neighborhood. Adding to the controversy, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office charged the men under state codes that would force them to register as lifetime sex offenders in a database available to law enforcement.

The judge's refusal to dismiss the case means that it will now proceed to trial unless the men accept a plea deal before them. The D.A.'s office has offered to throw out the requirement to register as sex offenders if the men accept such a deal.

Next up is a pre-trial hearing, which is set for March 14.

The sex sting surprised residents because the desert community has long been a retreat for Gays and Lesbians from around the U.S. The controversy has strained relations between the city government and Palm Springs' large Gay community, which is estimated to be as high as 50% of the city's population.

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