St. Paul cops found to be a little too willing in sex stings

St. Paul has been cracking down on public stranger sex in recent years. Trolling public parks, they've nabbed dozens of men who were down for a little of this and a little of that.

But one judge just ruled that the cops have been using inappropriate tactics in their sting operations. Namely, the cops are pretending to be, you know, into it.

Duane Hodges, a St. Anthony man arrested last summer for indecent exposure in Crosby Farms Park, was acquitted last month when a judge ruled that because Hodges had exposed himself in the privacy of an undercover officer's car, and the officer had portrayed himself as a willing participant, Hodges wasn't guilty of anything.

In other words, if two men park in a relatively private spot, and one man asks the other to pull down his pants, there is, to paraphrase George Constanza, there's nothing wrong with that.

The defense Hodges' lawyer Jeffrey Dean used, as outlined by the Star Tribune, argued that Hodges was only doing what the undercover cop had encouraged him to do. In Hodges' case, he was invited into the officer's car, and the cop told Hodges that he was up for "anything."

Hodges took that as his cue to expose himself, which got him arrested for indecent exposure. According to Judge J. Thomas Mott, the exposure was actually pretty decent.

Mott ruled that Hodges was well within his rights to whip it out at that moment, because the officer's behavior and statement was "if not an open invitation to the exposure [then] certainly a consent to it." Because the two of them weren't in an easily visible spot, they were free to do whatever they damn well felt like.

Those same sorts of tactics have been used to arrest others, including Joseph Peschges, the former president of Hill-Murray School. Peschges was forced to resign after he, too, was nailed for indecent conduct in Crosby Farms Park.

Like Hodges, an undercover cop told Peschges he was up for anything, and that the two could do... something in his car.

"Are you sure?" Peschges asked, the Star Tribune reports. "Someone might see."

When the cop assured him it'd be fine, Peschges reached into the car and put his hand on the cop's crotch, thus getting himself arrested. Peschges left his job at the school and pleaded guilty to indecent conduct.

St. Paul Police spokesman Howie Padilla said the cops would look at Hodges' case and "see what, if anything, we can learn from it."

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