Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Federal Lawsuit Against Johnson City Police

Another chapter is being written regarding the sex sting saga that happened just about this time last year in Johnson City. According to

Attorneys for a Tri-Cities man filed a lawsuit in federal court this afternoon that claims Johnson City Police discriminated against their client during a widely-publicized sex sting last fall.

A two week sex sting last fall netted 40 men, most arrested for indecent exposure And disorderly conduct. At the time, police said the goal was to crack down on people having sex in Johnson City’s public parks.

“We’re going to do all we can to try to stop this,” said Chief John Lowry in October 2007.

One of the men arrested now says the police went too far. Kenneth Giles of Bristol, Virginia, filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Tennessee on Tuesday. His lawyer claims Johnson City Police discriminated against his client because they believed Giles was homosexual or bisexual.

“The Johnson City Police Department did extraordinary measures to publicize their arrests in a way they didn’t do for other crimes,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney, Lambda Legal.

He alleges Johnson City Police, with the authorization of Police Chief John Lowry, sent out a press release of the arrests, complete with photographs of all arrested, their names, addresses, and their charges.

“If they publicized everybody’s arrest in the same way then we wouldn’t be filing this lawsuit,” said Nevins. (Read More)

The Johnson City Press also reported on this lawsuit on Wednesday's (Oct. 1) front page.

I commented on this last year. Seventy-Eight of us published a letter in the Johnson City Press critical of both the newspaper and the police. This event was the impetus to begin a chapter of PFLAG for the Tri-Cities.

To refresh the memory, here are some posts about that tragic event, in which one of the people nabbed in the sting committed suicide after the paper published his name, address and photograph.

Police Arrest 40 in Sex Sting

The Consequences of Johnson City's Morality Play

Guest Commentary About Sex Sting


  1. You did nothing to help these men through that difficult time. If you did, please let us, your readers, know.

  2. Jim,

    Thanks for commenting. I want to thank you for the letter your wrote to each of these men mentioning my congregation in a positive light. I can't provide specifics but I can say that it was appreciated not only by me but by those who received the letters. Thank you.