Larry Craig

Garden City, Nampa police have conducted sting operations to nab men soliciting sex in public

Police stings aimed at stopping men from soliciting sex from other men in public places are rare in the Treasure Valley. But they do happen: Garden City police arrested about 10 men from 2001 to 2003 along the Boise River Greenbelt, and Nampa police arrested eight at a city park in 2003.

And many of the same adult Web sites that identify the Minneapolis airport restroom where Sen. Larry Craig was arrested as a destination for men soliciting sex also identify several Boise-area parks and other public places. They include men’s rooms at Ann Morrison Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and the Greenbelt near Glenwood Street in Garden City.

Law enforcement officials in Ada County say they have conducted no recent investigations into men soliciting sex from each other in public restrooms and do not routinely perform sting operations like the one in Minnesota in June that resulted in Craig's arrest. Craig resigned from the U.S. Senate on Saturday, effective Sept. 30.

Garden City police arrested about 10 men between 2001 and 2003 and charged them with soliciting sex along the Boise River Greenbelt near Plantation Island.

Garden City Police Chief Jim Bensley said the investigation began after police received complaints that men were having sex on the island. The investigation was done by young male officers in plain clothes in the late afternoons and early evenings.

Plea bargains resulted in guilty pleas for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Police do not get reports of similar behavior at the island anymore, he said.

Nampa police arrested eight men in similar sting at Lakeview Park off Garrity Boulevard after getting several citizen complaints of men having sex in the men’s room. The men were charged with misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure or obscene conduct in public.

Boise police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said while officers know that Boise park restrooms are mentioned on Web sites, officers have not received any complaints from the public or reports of sex in those restrooms in recent memory.

Hightower said the restrooms and Greenbelt are well patrolled by bicycle officers and volunteers, who haven’t reported any illegal sexual activity. Boise police have made only one arrest in a public park this summer, and that involved a man and woman involved in lewd conduct under a bridge, Hightower said.

The restroom and hillside in the southeast corner of Ann Morrison Park were cited in reports of lewd conduct about a decade ago, said Mollie Holt, superintendent of administration for the Boise Parks and Recreation Department.

That led to some changes, including an ordinance that made it a misdemeanor for two people to be in a restroom stall at the same time. (A parent helping a child younger than 5 years old is exempt.) A fence was installed in the southeast corner of the park after the brush-covered hillside became a destination place for some people engaged in lewd conduct, Holt said.

Patrick Orr: 373-6619