Judge sets $50,000 bond for ex-DC police lieutenant charged with sex with minor

A judge in Broward County, Fla., on Feb. 18 set $50,000 bail for the release of former DC police lieutenant Brett Parson, six days after Parson was arrested in Boca Raton on February 12 for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old. boy in violation of Florida’s age of consent law, which is 18.

Online court records show Broward County Judge Phoebee Francois set bail of $25,000 for each of two charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor filed against Parson by police in Coconut Creek, Florida. . Court records do not show whether Parson paid the required 10% of the $5,000 bail to secure his release.

But a clerk said a public records check with Broward County Jail to determine if Parson was still incarcerated would determine if he was granted bail. A check with the jail on Monday afternoon revealed that Parson was not being held there at the time.

Online court records show that Judge Francois issued an order prohibiting Parson from having any contact with the 16-year-old he is accused of having had sex with and prohibiting Parson from having any contact” with minors under the age of 18″.

In addition, the judge ordered that Parson must reside in the Boca Raton apartment owned by his parents and where he resided at the time of his arrest “until further order of the court.”

Online court filings as of Monday did not contain any information about whether Parson had retained an attorney or when his next court appearance was due. A pretrial services monitoring order issued by the judge states that Parson must report twice a week by telephone to a designated pretrial services office.

An affidavit of arrest filed by Coconut Creek police says the 16-year-old told police investigators he and Parson met on the online gay dating app Growlr and agreed to meet for a sexual encounter at a Coconut Creek venue after exchanging “explicit” photos of each other. other. The affidavit says the 16-year-old, who was driving a car, met Parson at a location they arranged through a series of text messages.

After meeting at an initial location, the affidavit says the 16-year-old told police the two drove their separate cars to another location at the site of a secluded parking lot around 1 a.m. on February 12 where the 16-year-old got into the car Parson was driving and the two gave each other oral sex.

Without giving a reason, the affidavit says the 16-year-old provided police with all the details of his interaction with Parson that police otherwise would not have known after police arrested him while he and Parson followed each other in their cars to find another isolated. location. The affidavit says police arrested the 16-year-old after he drove his car into a tight space owned by Comcast.

He says police also stopped Parson’s car but allowed Parson to leave after saying he was a DC cop who got lost and didn’t know who the 16-year-old was in the other car. . After obtaining Parson’s identification from text messages in the 16-year-old’s phone, who turned his phone over to police, Coconut Creek police arranged for Boca Raton police to arrest Parson further. late in the day on February 12 at the site of his parents’ apartment in Boca Raton.
The Growlr site where the 16-year-old and Parson met has a policy of requiring anyone using the site to be at least 18, which is the legal age of consent in Florida. But according to attorneys familiar with Florida law, not knowing someone’s true age may not be a legal defense.

“In Florida, laws governing sexual activity with minors are ‘strict liability’ offences,” said Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Norm Kent, owner of the South Florida Gay News, a newspaper in LGBTQ community.

“This means a person can be charged if they don’t know the age of the person they engaged in sexual activity with, or even worse, if the other person lied about their age,” he said. Kent told the Washington Blade. “Laws like these can obviously lead to very unfair results.”

Kent noted that in Parson’s case, the alleged victim used a dating app that limits its users to people over the age of 18. He said it also appears from police reports that the 16-year-old never told Parson he was under 18.

“These are troubling facts that could be presented to a prosecutor or a judge in support of mitigation, but the law does not allow them to operate as a full defense to the crimes charged,” Kent said. “This is a difficult case that requires an experienced defense attorney for the officer.”

Parson’s arrest comes about two years after he retired from the DC Metropolitan Police Department after a 26-year career in which, among other duties, he was supervisor of the department’s LGBT liaison unit.

Reaction to news of his arrest by members of DC’s LGBTQ community has been mixed, with several prominent activists voicing their support for Parson saying his side of the story should be told and he should be presumed innocent until further notice. unless proven otherwise at trial. Others, however, made Facebook posts calling Parson a “predator” targeting an underage victim who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

During a Feb. 16 press conference on an unrelated topic, the Blade asked DC Police Chief Robert Contee what he thought of Parson’s arrest.

“I worked closely with him during his time here at the Metropolitan Police Department,” Contee said. “He has served the citizens of the District of Columbia well,” the chief said.

“This investigation is taking place in Florida. I am sure he is entitled to due process and whatever the facts in this case will come to light. But I really don’t have anything beyond that,” Contee said. “I don’t know much about this case.”

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