On May 20, four men were reportedly charged with Perverted Sexual Practice under Maryland’s state’s sodomy law during a raid on the Bush River Books & Video store in the town of Abington, located 25 miles north of Baltimore.

The police operation followed NIMBY (not in my backyard) complaints from local residents. A change.org petition had also been set up, by “concerned” local residents calling for the  Bush River Books and Video Adult Store be shut down. Though so far, the petition barely garnered 200 signatures.

The Blade, reported that despite only four men being charged, a total of nine arrest were made.

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One of the men arrest in the raid, whose name was retracted, told The Blade that  he was aware that the store has been the subject of law enforcement crackdowns in the past.

“But, you know, I went inside and was hooking up with someone and the next thing I know, eight of us were against the wall with handcuffs with plastic zip ties on them and we all spent the night in jail. I was released at like six o’clock in the morning,”

“I don’t know why people have a problem with this. We go there to meet people like us,” the man said.

A Law From The Past

According to a statement released to The Blade upon the publication’s request, among the nine men arrested, one was charged with Perverted Sexual Practice and Indecent Exposure, three were charged only with Perverted Sexual Practice, four were charged only with indecent exposure, and one was charged with Solicitation of Prostitution.

“In the past several months, we have received an increased number of concerns and allegations of a wide variety of illegal activity occurring at Bush River Books and Video in the 3900 block of Pulaski Highway in Abingdon from citizens and patrons of the business,” the statement read.

“We take all citizen concerns seriously, and there is an active investigation into these concerns. Recently, members of our Special Operations Division have taken part in a handful of operations at that location, in an attempt to curb these illegal activities. On May 20, 2021, such an operation occurred.”

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“During that operation, an undercover deputy entered the premises and observed a variety of illegal sexual activities that were occurring on the premises. Additionally, an additional undercover female deputy was approached and solicited for prostitution. At the conclusion of the operation, nine individuals were charged.”

Two Men Had Rented Private Video Room

It is alleged that two men who had rented a private video room within the adult store, were inside the room when sheriff’s deputies “in full riot gear unlocked his room and arrested him and his friend” on a charge of indecent exposure.

“They spent the night in jail and were badly treated,” a friend of one of the men who were arrested told The Blade.

The landmark 2003 Supreme Court decision known as Lawrence v. Texas was meant to have struck down state sodomy laws like that of the State Of Maryland. The SC had ruled that such law pertaining to consenting adults in a private setting were unconstitutional.

Known as the Maryland Perverted Sexual Practice Act, it makes illegal acts of oral and anal sex, as set out in state legislation, a person may not: (1) take the sexual organ of another or of an animal in the person’s mouth; (2) place the person’s sexual organ in the mouth of another or of an animal; or (3) commit another unnatural or perverted sexual practice with another or with an animal.”

The penalty as it stands for breaking such laws is jail time not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding $1000 or both. While last year the State of Maryland was meant to have repealed state sodomy laws, many are now asking whether only a partial repeal of these laws was passed.

Attorney Greg Nevins, who serves as senior counsel for the national LGBTQI litigation organization Lambda Legal said that Lawrence v. Texas “declared that all laws that have as their only element the act of oral or anal sex are facially unconstitutional” and should not be enforced under circumstances similar to the Maryland bookstore arrests.”

Nevins added that “There are cases around the country discussing whether certain areas are private, usually focusing on whether the participants had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

However Harford County State’s Attorney, Republican Albert J. Peisinger, may be doubting whether the “perverted” sex charges hold up in court.

For, according to online court records it appears at least three of the men arrested have already had their charges dropped. But one man did appear to still face the perverted sex charge, a misdemeanour. Others are facing charges of soliciting prostitution. Those up on charges of indecent exposure will likely not be convicted given that the exposure occurred behind a locked video booth and among consenting adults. A hearing date is set for early next month.

 

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