Alex Blaze

Ed Flanagan, FTW

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 09, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: cruising for sex, ed flanagan, lewdness, public sex, sex, Vermont, YMCA

Good on Vermont senator Ed Flanagan. Take a lesson from this lawyer and politician, boys, because he didn't do the stupidest thing you can do when you get arrested for cruising: admit to doing anything wrong.

[Addison County State's Attorney Chris] Perkett said his review of the evidence found that Flanagan did engage in the conduct alleged -- masturbation in open view inside a men's fitness room at the YMCA -- in late July but did not do so intentionally.

"I don't believe beyond a reasonable doubt that he intentionally engaged in the conduct," Perkett said. "More importantly, I don't believe I could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."

Flanagan, a Democrat from Burlington, said he was "relieved" and said he intends to serve out his two-year term before deciding what elective office to seek in 2010.

In an interview, he adamantly denied masturbating at the YMCA, but said he realized his actions could have been misinterpreted by a club member who reported the conduct the YMCA, and later to police.

Did Flanagan jack off in the shower? Who knows and who the hell cares. But what he did do was adamantly deny what he was accused of doing to the police, which counts for something. It's better than Larry Craig, who signed a confession and hoped the whole thing would go away, leaving folks like me screaming at our computer screens. These things never just go away.

It's rare that the cops actually find enough evidence to prosecute any of these cases, and often it's because no crime has actually been committed. Sometimes they arrest dudes just for picking up another guy to have sex back in their apartments, sometimes they're the ones inspiring people to commit crimes, and sometimes the cop offers to pay for sex and then arrests the gay dude for not turning around and running away.

These folks consider "Capture the Fag" a competitive sport. Make them prove their own case - don't just hand it to them. Flanagan did just that (it helps to be a Harvard-educated attorney, but you don't need a degree to keep your mouth shut and sign nothing), and the prosecutor was left with a he said/he said situation that made him sputter about whether Flanagan "intentionally" jacked off in the shower at the Y or not.

I've never cruised in public before (I was just talking about it last night and I realized I haven't even had sex in another room besides the bedroom), but I've read plenty of these stories over the years and known enough people who have been arrested and lied about and just wanted to confess and get out. I've heard enough to say that, if you're going to cruise, have a plan for if you get arrested. You have a right to remain silent, so use it. You also have a right to tell the cops that they're liars when they lie, and use it too.

But don't admit to anything before consulting a lawyer, because most likely these folks don't have as strong a case as you think they do.

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This is all so ridiculous.
I have been a YMCA member for 30 years.
I have never once visited a YMCA where someone was not either seeking gay sex or having gay sex. Not once. In at least three countries and at least twenty cities. And sometimes, it's the staff, not just the members.
Not. Once.
Have I made that clear?
Not. Once.

PS: I also hold a membership in another major health club chain. The same is true for that one as well.

What does this tell you, America?

Never been cruised at the gym. The Undergrad Library is a different story.

But it isn't always cruising that gets you busted. Just wearing pride jewelry and going into a public john can get you busted. What about when a trans person is just going down to the store and gets busted for 'walking while trans' AKA prostitution?
It isn't just to have a story ready when you are cruising but be ready for a completely fabricated story.
Be ready to stay calm, document everything, ask for documentation and contact an attorney before you answer any questions or agree to anything being presented as the easiest way out.

Don't talk to cops. Hear yourself from a law professor and a cop.

It's excellent advice, Alex. The problem is that when you are confronted with a police officer and arrest occurs or seems imminent, there is an almost overwhelming impulse to attempt to explain away your conduct. Because you are not thinking clearly, and are well into the fight-or-flight response with adrenalin pumping, the explanation often sounds like a confession. Keep in mind that the legal term "confession" does not refer exclusively to a confession of guilt, but also to a confession of facts that can include the following: placing yourself at the scene of the crime, confirming that one had the opportunity to commit the crime, confirming that one took actions that can be interpreted as criminal, providing a motive for conduct that can be interpreted as criminal, and providing an explanation of intent that can be interpreted as criminal. The classic example is the suspect who, when accused of committing a robbery involving a shooting, says "I didn't do it, Joe was the shooter." That's a confession, not of guilt, true, but it goes a thousand steps towards guilt. I remember hearing the tape of Larry Craig trying desperately to exculpate himself in conversation with the police officer at the station. Every word he said tightened the noose. An innocent person doesn't need to explain - circumstances show his or her innocence. The more a guilty person tries to explain away conduct, the more evidence the police have to demonstrate guilt. The police also have many tricks to get you talking and keep you talking. An experienced police officer has observed hundreds or thousands of people in an arrest situation and know exactly what guilt looks like and what innocence looks like, but you don't. It's like taking candy from a baby. Good advice and all intelligence fade when you see the handcuffs looming and the open cell beckoning. The hindbrain takes over. It's all well and good to say "don't talk" in the light of day as a free person. Try remembering it when you're cornered.