Civil-rights group: Rep. Allen's comments 'racially insensitive'
The Orlando-based Florida Civil Rights Association called yesterday for state Rep. Bob Allen's resignation because he made "racially insensitive" comments to Titusville police while explaining the "misunderstanding" behind his arrest on sex-solicitation charges.
Court records made public last week gave more detail to the solicitation charges state Rep. Bob Allen faces.
Allen, R-Merritt Island, was arrested July 11 after authorities say he offered an undercover police officer $20 to perform oral sex on him. He faces one count of solicitation for prostitution.
Audiotape of a July 11 police-station conversation between Allen and Titusville Assistant Chief John Lau reveals Allen's excuse for discussing sex with an undercover officer at a park men's room.
He felt intimidated by the "stocky black guy" in the restroom (whom he didn't know was an officer) and several other "stocky black guys" sitting in the park (also, apparently, plain-clothes officers) and thought he was about to be robbed, Allen said. The officer first mentioned oral sex for money, and Allen simply went along with discussing the transaction to avoid becoming a "statistic," he said.
Lau: "When he mentioned money, what did you think?"
Allen: "That he was trying to sell sex for money -- or that he was trying to get my money, if I had money. I didn't want to go anywhere near there. Besides, I had two dollars in my pants, I was hardly able to ..."
On tape, Allen seems uncertain whether he has actually been arrested, despite being handcuffed, driven to the Titusville police station and locked up. He nervously spins his side of the story, calling it all a misunderstanding. But he's careful not to inflame or insult the police, mentioning his award last year from Police Benevolent Association as lawmaker of the year. Lau promises to sort out the facts, saying he will debrief everyone involved and will quickly "un-arrest" Allen if he finds his officers lacked probable cause. He also says he will telephone Allen's attorney for him.
Lau: "Mr. Allen, here's the deal. You were put into custody and arrested, OK?"
Allen: Oh, so that was an arrest? ..."
Lau: "The other thing you have to consider is ... in technology today, when we go out and do this, we have car videotape, audiotape, and we're wired-up and everything ... so anything that happened in that bathroom, you have to understand ... if that comes out and it does not match what you're telling me now, that could prove to be horrible for you."
Not long after that conversation, Allen was booked into the county jail and formally charged with "soliciting for prostitution for hire, lewdness or assignation," records show. Allen pleaded not guilty and has hired an additional criminal-defense attorney. He said he won't resign and may still run for state Senate.
Other details released include:
At one point, Allen asked Kavanaugh: "You're not a cop, are you?" Kavanaugh replied, "Nah. If I was a cop, why would I be hanging around here?"
Cpl. Erich Barrett wrote in his supplemental police report that Allen asked if his position as a state lawmaker would "help."
As he was getting into Barrett's marked cruiser, Allen allegedly asked, "I don't suppose it would help if I said I was a State Legislator, would it?" Barrett said, "No."
Greg Eisenmenger, who with Phillip Lupo is representing Allen in the criminal case, denied the lawmaker tried to use his position to get himself out of the charge.
Allen told Titusville Assistant Chief John Lau he felt intimidated by the undercover officer in the restroom and was trying to get away from him because he feared the officer would rob him.
Civil Rights group calling for Allen's resignation
Now comes this statement from the desk of J. Willie David III, president of the FCRA:
"The comments by Representative Allen perpetuate the racial divide, and no one with this view should hold public office. If the situation was the same, but with white men in the park and a white police officer, would Representative Allen would have made the same statement?"
"Representative Allen alleged comments are sending a disturbing message to the black community. Now is the time for House Speaker Marco Rubio, Florida Black Lawmakers, other Civil Rights Groups and Community Leaders to call for Representative Allen to step down."
Attorney: Officer initiated sex offer
Eisenmenger said the documents show that police initiated the alleged solicitation.
"It's totally improper for a police officer to suggest a sex act. It's totally improper for a police officer to suggest payment for a sex act," Eisenmenger said.
It doesn't necessarily matter who suggested the act, said Susan Kay, a clinical law professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., who is not involved in the case.
"Generally, it doesn't matter who suggested the crime," she said.
But, she added, "if a police officer did all of the talking, you may not have enough proof to convict."
To use an entrapment defense, a suspect would have to show the only reason he committed the crime was because of the police inducement.
Eisenmenger also said it was improper for Lau to continue talking to Allen after he asked for his attorney.
In an interview, Lau disagreed, saying he did not violate Allen's Miranda rights because he didn't asked questions about the case after Allen requested his attorney.