Prosecutors in Florida have dropped felony charges involving sex with a minor against a gay, retired, prominent former Washington, D.C. police lieutenant.
The former head of the LGBT Liaison Unit of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Brett Parson, was arrested in February last year while in Florida on a charge of having sex with a 16-year-old boy, which violated the state’s consent laws. In Florida, consent is 18 years of age.
After many attempts at communicating with the victim, his parents told the prosecutor’s office this past February that the teen refused to participate because he did not want to testify before people or speak with attorneys about what happened.
“Prosecutors dismissed the two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor at a court hearing this morning,” the Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesperson tells The Advocate. “The parents of the victim, who was 16 at the time of the incident, recently informed prosecutors that the victim did not want to go forward with the case.”
Assistant State Attorney Danielle Lennox explained her reason for not prosecuting in a March 9 memorandum that The Advocate obtained.
She writes that Parson, then 53, and a 16-year-old boy met on a gay dating app, Growlr, where the teenager had indicated he was 19. According to the victim, Parson and the boy sent each other photos over several days and cell phone numbers, and eventually met up at a gas station for sex.
On the evening of February 12, the two were pulled over in separate cars after performing oral sex on each other. At the time, officers discovered that the teen was underage and arrested Parson.
Lennox wrote that the victim was uncooperative and did not respond to several inquiries the prosecutor’s office made with the family. His parents had conveyed to the office that they wanted the attorney to do whatever she could without the teen’s participation but were okay with the outcome being a non-prosecution.
“I explained that I would do my best to resolve the case but that it would likely be dismissed,” Lennox wrote in the memorandum. “[The father] responded that he understood and wanted to be kept updated as to the resolution.”
The prosecutor continued, “Even though lack of knowledge of age or misrepresentation of age is not a defense to the crime charged, the defendant’s position has always been that he believed the victim was a 19-year-old man, which is what the victim had listed as his age in the dating application.”
She continued, “Due to lack of victim cooperation, my conversations with the victim’s parents, and the potential scheduling of a deposition of the victim, the State believed it was in the best interest of the victim to not require him to come in for deposition and subsequent trial testimony, to respect his wishes and announce a nollo prosequi in the case.”
“Nollo prosequi” is a legal term meaning “to be unwilling to pursue” and is used when prosecutors decline to move forward with charges in a given case.
As a result of the decision, Parson won’t face prison time or be registered as a sex offender. His position as a lead instructor for ABLE, a training program for police departments nationwide, was terminated after his arrest. He was also fired from the Metropolitan Police reserve officer corps.
Following news of his alleged crime, some defended him on social media, while others expressed outrage at a former police officer who had worked with young sex crimes victims and likely arrested people in the same situation in which he found himself.
Parson has not spoken publicly since his arrest or since the case was dismissed. Parson did not immediately respond to The Advocate's request for comment.