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Pickell: "I don't want to take sides"

June 17, 2005

“(Genesee County) Sheriff Robert J. Pickell met with leaders of the American Family Association of Michigan on Wednesday but said that he’s staying out of a war of words between the conservative group and the Triangle Foundation, a gay rights organization. The organizations have been battling over the arrest of eight men, including two educators and a county employee, during a sex sting at Richfield County Park in late May and early this month. …Pickell met Tuesday with Triangle, which calls itself Michigan’s leading organization serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied communities, then met with AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn and several area pastors Wednesday. Glenn came out of that meeting saying parents ‘have a right to know if men employed in our public schools were among those arrested for soliciting homosexual activity.’ Pickell has already said an assistant principal and teacher were among the men ticketed for being a disorderly person, but he hasn’t identified either.”


FLINT JOURNAL
Flint, Michigan
June 16, 2005

“I don’t want to take sides,”
Pickell says of gay arrests battle

by Ron Fonger

GENESEE COUNTY – Sheriff Robert J. Pickell met with leaders of the American Family Association of Michigan on Wednesday but said that he’s staying out of a war of words between the conservative group and the Triangle Foundation, a gay rights organization.

The organizations have been battling over the arrest of eight men, including two educators and a county employee, during a sex sting at Richfield County Park in late May and early this month.

“I don’t want to take sides,” Pickell said after turning down an invitation to join in a news conference by AFA-Michigan on Wednesday. “I’ve got to worry about the law.”

Pickell met Tuesday with Triangle, which calls itself Michigan’s leading organization serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied communities, then met with AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn and several area pastors Wednesday.

Glenn came out of that meeting saying parents “have a right to know if men employed in our public schools were among those arrested for soliciting homosexual activity.”

Pickell has already said an assistant principal and teacher were among the men ticketed for being a disorderly person, but he hasn’t identified either.

The Flint Journal has identified a former county employee who was fired after he was ticketed while on the job and in a county car in the park. An American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union official said Wednesday that the health department worker is fighting his firing.

The Rev. Roy L. McLaughlin, senior pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Swartz Creek, said gay men don’t have the right to use a county park for sex.

“It’s a violation of the law. … These men – they solicited the sex,” said McLaughlin, who called homosexuality a “deviant form of lifestyle.”

The Rev. Lonnie Brown, pastor of Kingdom of Heaven Ministries in Mt. Morris Township, said church leaders aren’t picking on gay men.

“We’re not hating anybody,” Brown said. “(But) we love more than anything our children and our families.”

Pickell has said he sent officers to the county park in Richfield Township after receiving complaints about men approaching other men about having sex in the park.

Triangle’s president has warned that such stings can be a form of entrapment, but he said after meeting Pickell on Tuesday that the sheriff’s response has been “an appropriate, moderate response to the situation.”

What AFA wants:

Leaders of the American Family Association of Michigan met with Genesee County Sheriff Robert J. Pickell on Wednesday. The group’s aims, according to a news release:

* To thank Pickell for a sting that resulted in the arrest of eight men for soliciting sex from other men in Richfield County Park.

* To seek the suspension of two school employees — a teacher and assistant principal — arrested in the operation.

* To ask local news media to inform parents if school employees were among those arrested.

Source: Mlive.com

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