A Los Angeles County judge sent a strong message against a police department for conducting sting operations on gay men.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina threw out the charges against Rory Moroney, who was apprehended by the Long Beach Police Department in October 2014 for cruising a men's restroom, reports the Los Angeles Times.
After hearing testimony, Dhanidina concluded the police department's vice squad "intentionally targeted men who engaged in homosexual sex."
The judge agreed with Moroney's lead attorney, Bruce Nickerson, that it was the faux flirtatious acts of the undercover officer--who smiled and winked at Moroney--that initiated the crimes of indecent exposure and lewd conduct.
"The presence and tactics of the decoy officers actually caused the crimes to occur," Dhanidina concluded.
Dhanidina also found the tactics of the vice squad discriminatory, as it employed only male officers in its sting operations of lewd conduct, and only male suspects were arrested.
John Duran, an expert witness and a West Hollywood councilman, said the sting operations "came out of the era when homosexuality was criminal; this is kind of a leftover from the last century."
The Long Beach Police Department released a statement denying that it conducts biased sting operations, although the department did vow to scrutinize future lewd conduct complaints.
"We are 100% committed to civil rights and equality for all people, including the LGBTQ community," stated Robert Luna, Long Beach's police chief. "And our department has many openly gay and lesbian employees who are a critical part of our team."
In a statement to The Advocate, Moroney, who teared up upon hearing the judge's ruling Friday, thanked his lead attorney Nickerson and said he was "overwhelmed with gratitude! The judge was nothing short of brilliant and saw the truth in every aspect of this case."
"I've come out of yet another closet to be the voice for scores of gay men that have experienced this unjust practice of discriminatory enforcement and prosecution by a police department and a city," he said. "Our police departments' practice of homosexual entrapment and homophobia is not something that has just begun--it never ended."
"Although we have made progress with our equality, since the Stonewall Riots, we all know that bigotry and hate is not something that goes away so easily," Moroney concluded. "We need to keep fighting the good fight!"