Several arrests were made in a May 20, 2021 Maryland Police raid on a video library and bookstore, including four men charged under the state’s archaic anti-sodomy law. (Envato Elements)
A police raid on a Maryland bookstore saw nine people arrested for “unlawful sexual activity,” including four men charged under the state’s archaic sodomy law.
Washington’s blade reported that the Harford County Sheriff’s Office raided the Bush River Books & Video store in Abington, Maryland on May 20.
A police statement to the media said the operation was prompted by “an increased number of concerns and allegations of a wide variety of illegal activities” from “citizens and company bosses.”
An undercover agent entered the store and “observed various illegal sexual activities,” the statement continued. Police said during the raid, an “additional undercover assistant” was “in demand for prostitution”.
According to the blade of washington, a total of nine people were arrested. Four people were charged with so-called “perverse sexual practice”, named after the state’s anti-sodomy law. One of the four was also charged with indecent assault.
The rest face charges of indecent assault or solicitation of prostitution.
A friend of one of the arrested men said the blade of washington that the man had rented one of the store’s private rooms to watch videos. They said he was in the room with another friend when the police “in full riot gear unlocked his room and arrested him and his friend.”
“They spent the night in jail and were mistreated,” the friend said. the blade of washington.
One of the men arrested in the raid said he did not know why “people have a problem with this”, and described the store as a place where “we are going to meet people like us”.
“But, you know, I walked inside and met someone and the next thing I know eight of us were up against the wall with handcuffs with plastic ties on them,” did he declare. the blade of washington.
“And we all spent the night in jail. I was released around six in the morning.
Anti-sodomy laws were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003
Maryland’s law against “perverse sexual practices ” prohibits oral sex with other people and animals. It also prohibits any other “unnatural or perverted sexual practice with another [person] or with an animal ”.
The text does not explicitly name homosexuals or bisexuals, but historically such laws have targeted and have been enforced against men who have sex with other men.
Maryland law has remained in effect despite the 2003 United States Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v Texas that struck down laws criminalizing same-sex relationships. The ruling said the ban on private homosexual activity between consenting adults was unconstitutional.
Attorney Greg Nevins, senior attorney for Lambda Legal, told the Washington blade he thought there was good reason to believe that a private, locked video room – like the one in the bookstore – would be considered a locked hotel room.
“There are cases across the country that are discussing whether certain areas are private, usually focusing on whether participants had a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Nevins explained.