Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keep it zipped

Hmm. IMHO this case will come screaming back on appeal for lack of a jury instruction on entrapment.

I can't imagine that there wasn't some evidence presented at the trial to warrant such an instruction.

Lesson to all, keep it zipped in public.

Topless Woman Lured Perverts in Police Sting

Firefighter Busted for Exposing Himself to Sunbather Appeals 'Entrapment' Conviction

Law enforcement officials say that sting operations like these are an extremely effective means of lowering crime rates and stopping the criminally minded before they commit worse offenses. Opponents call it entrapment. (ABC News)


Robin Garrison, an off-duty 42-year-old firefighter, was walking in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, in May when he saw a woman sunbathing topless under a tree.

He approached her and they started talking and getting comfortable, the woman smiling and resting her foot on his shoulder at one point.

Eventually, she asked to see Garrison's penis; he unzipped his pants and complied.

Seconds later, undercover police officers pulled up in a van and arrested Garrison; he was later charged with public indecency, a misdemeanor, based on video footage taken by cops who were targeting men having sex or masturbating in the park. While topless sunbathing is legal in the city's parks, exposing more than that is against the law.

The case is just one of the more extreme examples of police stings aimed at luring people into committing crimes, a tactic that has resulted in hundreds of arrests, many convictions and plenty of controversy.

Law enforcement officials say that such sting operations are an extremely effective means of lowering crime rates and stopping the criminally minded before they commit worse offenses.

From early 2006 to the spring of 2007, there were 160 citations for public indecency in the city, according to an investigation by 10TV News. Among those who were caught in the stings: an Ohio State University doctor, government employees and a retired highway trooper.

But such operations veer dangerously close to entrapment, say lawyers, civil libertarians and defendants who've been caught in sting operations.

At Garrison's trial, his attorney argued that it was a case of entrapment. "Columbus police utilized this topless woman to snare this man," said Sam Shamansky. "He sees her day after day. He's not some seedy pervert."

The argument failed to sway a Franklin County Municipal Court jury that found Garrison guilty of public indecency last month. He was ordered to stay away from the park, placed on a year's probation and fined $250. Currently, Garrison remains on paid desk duty while the fire department conducts an internal investigation into his behavior.

"We want to be held to a higher standard, we are in the community every day and we put our best foot forward, but sometimes we stumble and make a mistake," said Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Doug Smith.

Garrison could not be reached for comment.

Shamansky plans to appeal the verdict on the grounds that the jury wasn't instructed on the definition of entrapment.