Gay History – January 7, 1949: 4 Men Plead Guilty To “Homosexual Offenses” After Gay Witch Hunt
Via the Associated Press:
Columbia, Mo., Jan 7. (AP). Four men pleaded guilty yesterday to statutory charges and were placed on probation four years. They were Warren W. Heathman, itinerant agriculture instruction for the Veterans Administration at Rolla; Harry J. Sohn Jr., of Hannibal, former University of Missouri student; Willie D. Coots of Columbia, former clerk in a novelty shop, and Joe Byers, local grocer.
E.K. Johnston, former journalism professor at the university pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to a similar charge and was placed on four-year probation. Yesterday’s action closed the cases resulting from an investigation last spring of homosexual activities at the university and elsewhere.
The prior spring, newspapers reported on a “homosexual ring” with “mad homosexual parties” taking place near the University of Missouri campus. Professor E.K. Johnston’s 24-year teaching career was ruined when he and several others were arrested. Coots may have been Johnston’s partner at the time of the arrests, as reports at the time indicate that they had shared an apartment in Rolla “for the last 15 or 16 years.” Reports indicate that “at least of score” of other students and residents were “implicated in the ring,” but no others were arrested.