Judge Ginger Lerner Wren ruled against the state on Thursday in the Pleasure Emporium case where at least 19 men have been arrested this year for sex in a public place and “exposure of sexual organs and/or unnatural lascivious acts.”
The judge dismissed all the charges against two of the defendants.
The state had argued that an unsuspecting patron of Pleasure Emporium could accidentally observe the sexual activity.
“The Court finds that the Pleasure Emporium is not a public place under F.S. 800.03 where the patrons who access the private viewing theaters where consensual sexual activity occurs in the presence of other consenting adults objectively and subjectively possess a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Judge Wren wrote in the ruling.
The Hollywood police conducted two undercover stings at the Pleasure Emporium this year — in February and July — that resulted in the arrests of 19 men.
The Pleasure Emporium is an adult store that has two small theaters in the back of the business for the viewing of pornographic videos. One of the theaters is marked “straight” and one “gay.” The entire video viewing area is only accessible by those who pay a $25 fee at the front area, which includes a retail shop section with various items for sale.
The judge noted that Pleasure Emporium has “several levels of barriers” in place to keep unsuspecting patrons away from the sexual activity.
“We are quite pleased with the court ruling, and justice was appropriately served,” said Rhonda F. Gelfman, an attorney who represents one of the defendants.
Some of the defendants, however, have already pled guilty, which would leave them with few options.
Gelfman said it would difficult to get their guilty pleas thrown out but it’s not impossible.
“We may be able to assist them,” she said.
Russell Cormican, who also handled motions to dismiss for one of his clients that were exonerated, added, “the court did a thorough review of the existing laws in place and properly concluded there are certain places where citizens can have an expectation of privacy beyond which government cannot reach.”