Giles v. City of Johnson City, et al.

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Status: Closed
Court:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
Issues: Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct

Case filed against Johnson City, Tennessee and its police chief on behalf of a man who unfairly had his photo released along with 39 other men arrested in a public sex sting operation.

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Summary

On October 1, 2007, the JCPD issued a press release, personally approved by the police chief, that included photos that were taken at the scene where 40 men, including Mr. Giles, were arrested in a public sex sting. The local news ran the story prominently along with pictures and addresses of the men involved. Lambda Legal reviewed the police department’s press releases for over a period of a year and found that out of approximately 600 other releases, none pertaining to arrests was accompanied by photos or personally approved by the chief. Of the 40 arrested, one man has committed suicide and several others have lost their jobs, including Kenneth Giles who was fired from his job as a nurse at the VA hospital. On September 30, 2008, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in Tennessee on behalf of Kenneth Giles, arguing that the JCPD violated federal equal protection law by singling out these men for harsher treatment by making their images available to the media.

Context

The actions of the JCPD publicizing the photographs of men arrested as part of a sting operation targeting gay and bisexual men, while not similarly publicizing other arrests, are the latest chapter in a long history of police departments' unequal treatment of members of the public based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Lambda Legal's Impact

A victory would send a clear message to law enforcement that adding extra punishment to members of the public based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation is unacceptable, and would reinforce the concept of innocent until proven guilty.