L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center officials said April 4 that they were surprised and outraged to learn that a local news broadcaster had decided to display on its website the mug shots of 18 men who were recently charged in an undercover sex sting operation at a Manhattan Beach public restroom.
The men were reportedly charged with crimes ranging from loitering to engaging in lewd conduct in a public place.
When contacted by the center, KCBS/KCAL Assistant News Director Paul Button said he would look into the issue. As of Wednesday, the pictures were still posted.
“It’s shocking that any news operation, but especially an affiliate of a major network like CBS, would choose to publish the mug shots, names and birthdates of people charged with victimless crimes, simply because the charges are salacious or related to gay sex,” said L.A Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings.
“Naturally, we don’t condone illegal activity of any kind, but these men haven’t been proven guilty and historically, charges such as those leveled against them have involved police entrapment. Publishing their photos serves no purpose other than to humiliate and destroy their lives. We call on KCBS/KCAL to immediately remove the images and names from their website.”
The center was critical of the Manhattan Beach Police Department for releasing the photos, which have been carried by several local news organizations, and reported that one of the arrestees had attempted suicide. Police Chief Eve Irvine told the Los Angeles Times that the release of suspects’ photos is standard operating procedure.
Publications that used the photos include The Daily Breeze and LA Weekly; those that did not include the Los Angeles Times and The Rafu Shimpo.