The former head of the LGBT Liaison Unit of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, Brett Parson, was arrested Saturday in Florida on a charge of having sex with a 16-year-old boy, which is against the state's age of consent law. Florida's age of consent is 18.
In the early morning of February 12, police patrolling Coconut Creek, Fla., noticed two cars following each other. As one turned into a restricted access facility, the other stopped on the road, according to an arrest affidavit.
When officers approached the stopped car, Parson, 53, identified himself as a police officer and explained to the officers that he was in town visiting his parents, court documents state. He told them he didn't know the person in the other car, and he was lost. Officers gave him directions and he drove away.
The officers then spoke with the other driver, who was a 16-year-old. The teenager told officers he had been using the gay dating app Growlr and had agreed to meet up with Parson. The two agreed to meet at a secluded spot where they engaged in sex acts. They had already met once and were looking for another, more secluded area to continue.
Parson, who served almost 30 years as an officer in D.C., has been charged with two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He was arrested at his parents' residence in Boca Raton, Fla.
Some criminal defense attorneys "have expressed concern on behalf of clients in similar cases that an adult arrested for having consensual sex with a 16 or 17-year-old in a state where the age of consent is 18 would not have violated the law in states where the age of consent is 16," theWashington Bladereports. At least 16 states and D.C. have set the age of consent for sex acts at 16.
Since retiring in 2020, Parson has been a part-time volunteer D.C. police reserve officer.
"We were made aware of the retired member's arrest early Sunday morning," said a D.C. police statement sent to the Blade. "MPD immediately terminated him from our Reserve Corps."
Gay former D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alex Padro told the outlet, "Just like anyone else accused of a crime, Mr. Parson deserves to be treated as being innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to mount a defense."
"MPD's action in terminating a 26-year veteran of its ranks from the Reserve Corps without due process, without even hearing his side of the story is both un-American and unjust, depriving our citizens and MPD of his years of experience and demonstrating to those volunteer reservists that MPD does not have their back," Padro added.