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Florida Judge Rules Men Busted In Porn Bookstore Raid Were Wrongfully Arrested

A judge in Broward County, Florida has ruled that the Hollywood Police Department ruined the lives of ten gay men for no reason at all when they raided the Pleasure Emporium in July of 2018 and release the names and photos of the men to news media outlets. The judge ruled that the men were, in fact, in a “private space,” and the men should not have been charged for exposing their genitals “in public.”

Broward County Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren found that the Pleasure Emporium is not a public space under [Florida Statute] 800.03,” Lerner-Wren wrote. “The patrons who access the private viewing theaters where consensual activity occurs in the presence of other consenting adults objectively and subjectively possess a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

In August, Hollywood PD adamantly defended its decision to raid a gay-cruising destination. HPD spokesperson Miranda Grossman — who, is a former reporter for the progressive news outlet Fusion — stated that the Pleasure Emporium was “not private, but open to the public.”

She then added, “As a reporter, I am sure you can understand releasing information related to criminal activity is in the public’s best interest.”

It turns out the men were not actually committing a crime, according to Lerner-Wren. Via email, Grossman said HPD still believes it was in the right.

After the arrest, many media outlets published mug shots of the men. WPLG went so far as to provide a bulleted list of every man’s name and hometown.

One man who was arrested according to his lawyer was suicidal after the arrest and had fled Cuba because he thought America would be more accepting of of gay men. Instead he was outed and fired from his job due to the actions of Miranda Grossman  and the Hollywood Police Department.

Rhonda Gelfman, an attorney lawyer for many of the accused men, says she plans to help the few who pleaded guilty to the charges before the judge ruled the raid was wrong. 

“I’m happy with the judge’s well-reasoned opinion and that justice was served,” she said through a spokesperson. “I plan to now spend time assisting the others who had pleaded guilty to this case when they should not have.”

Hopefully that will include lawsuits against the media outlets who published the men’s names and photos, the Hollywood Police department and Miranda Grossman. 

Via: Broward New Times
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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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