Acquitted of Illegal Conduct Last Summer
A gay man, acquitted of prostitution charges last summer, has sued the City of Fort Lauderdale in Circuit Court for false arrest.
In a case covered extensively by the now defunct South Florida Blade, Michael Marsh had to live through the trauma of having his arrest by the Fort Lauderdale Police in Holiday Park publicized.
Charged with soliciting for prostitution and indecent exposure, city prosecutors were trying to make an example of him for “inappropriate conduct” in a community park. But it turned out that the police officers were the ones found to have engaged in ‘inappropriate conduct.’ And Michael Marsh was exonerated.
On a Motion to Dismiss based on unlawful entrapment, filed by his attorneys Russell Cormican and Norm Kent, Judge Gary Cowart threw out all the charges against Marsh. The city did not appeal.
In a five page legal opinion, the Court ruled that the arresting officers went out of their way to first approach Marsh, then solicit him, and then ask him for sex for money, all without any probable cause to believe he was about to commit or had committed a crime.
Judge Cowart noted that Marsh told police “he had no money and he was only interested in a mutual date” with no cash to be exchanged. But the cops arrested him for prostitution and indecent exposure anyway.
“He never should have gone to jail,” stated attorney Russell Cormican, “No crime had ever been committed. The officers improperly targeted him, made a mistake arresting him, and now the city should pay for it.”
Cormican told SFGN that an attempt to resolve the case over the last six months with Fort Lauderdale city insurance adjusters failed.
“The city offered us a nominal amount. But this event embarrassed my client and was uncalled for. He is entitled to reasonable compensation,” Cormican stated.
Based on those contentions, Cormican sued the city in Circuit Court last week, asking for in excess of $15,000 in damages. City attorneys have no comment at this time, and still have 20 days to answer the suit.