BATON ROUGE, La. — An East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office task force arrested at least 12 men since 2011 under a sodomy law invalidated a decade ago the U.S. Supreme Court, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The most recent arrest was July 18 when a man discussed or agreed to have sex with a male undercover agent, The Advocate reported. The task force was trying to deter sexual activities at the parish's public parks.
Although sex in public and sex solicitation for money are illegal in Louisiana, neither was part of these 12 cases, and most of the men were arrested after agreeing to have sex away from the park at a private residence, District Attorney Hillar Moore III told the newspaper.
"The sheriff's office's intentions are all good," Moore said. "But from what I've seen of these cases, legally, we found no criminal violation."
The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that a Texas law against oral or anal sex was invalid. Louisiana was among nine states with such laws. Richard Leyoub, then attorney general, said the high court's ruling made Louisiana's law unenforceable.
The sheriff's office sent a statement Sunday to the newspaper saying it "should have taken a different approach" to worries about park safety, the newspaper reported.
"We will consult with others in the legislative and judicial branches to see what can be done to remove this law from the criminal code that each deputy receives and to also find alternative ways to deter sexual and lewd activity from our parks," it said.
Metro Councilman John Delgado said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux owed an apology to the men arrested and the entire parish.
Delgado said he will file public records requests to determine when the district attorney's office told the sheriff's office that the men targeted had committed no crime.
"You cannot simply hide behind not knowing that the law had been changed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2003," Delgado said in email to the sheriff's office. "The sheriff's actions are a violation of the civil rights of these men under the 5th and 14th Amendments. Ignorance of the law is no excuse ... Doesn't your office tell people that all the time?"
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Copyright 2013 Associated Press