One man arrested in a public sex sting, backed by Lambda Legal, is suing the city of Johnson City, Tennessee along with its police chief for releasing pictures, names and addresses of himself and 39 other men arrested in the sting, along with the charges they faced, to the media. The October 2007 release, one of about 600 reviewed by Lambda, was the only one to include photographs, and also the only one to be personally approved by Johnson City Police Chief John Lowry.
In Giles v. City of Johnson City, et al. Lambda Legal argues that the Johnson City Police Department violated federal equal protection law by singling out the 40 men and subjecting them to worse treatment by giving them unprecedented negative exposure in the media before they had entered pleas in court. “Defendants intended the publication of photographs of the plaintiff,” the complaint reads, “to bring public attention to plaintiff with resulting negative consequences, including but not limited to public humiliation, emotional distress, adverse employment consequences and turmoil in his relationships with family and friends.”
“Our parks are for family use,” Lowry told the Johnson City Press. “People should not be exposed to this while they are out there with their family or trying to enjoy the walking trails. They are not built nor maintained for sexual activity, be it homosexual activity or heterosexual activity.”
One spot targeted by police over a two-week period in September of 2007 was known as the “Man Cave,” a secluded patch of underbrush that resembles a cave. According to investigators, men would visit the “Man Cave” at any hour of the day to engage in sexual activity with other men.
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