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'Lewd conduct' charge against journalist dismissed

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CALIFORNIA--In early July, a state Superior Court judge in Sacramento dismissed the case against a prominent gay journalist accused of…

CALIFORNIA–In early July, a state Superior Court judge in Sacramento dismissed the case against a prominent gay journalist accused of using the Internet to entice a teenager into inappropriate sexual conduct. The journalist, Bruce Mirken, had argued that he was doing research for an article he was writing about troubled gay youth, according to the Associated Press.

Two days into the trial, Judge Rudolph Loncke dismissed the charges that Mirken attempted to perform a lewd and lascivious act on a child, due to a lack of evidence.

Mirken would have faced up to four years in prison had he been convicted. Mirken, a well-known investigative reporter with the gay media, claimed throughout the ordeal that he was researching troubled gay youth for a news story he was going to write, according to AP reports.

Police began to investigate Mirken after he answered a message posted in an Internet chat room by a police officer posing as a 13- year-old boy named “Anthony.” The message said that the boy was looking for an adult friend.

Mirken later set up a meeting by e-mail, but when the reporter arrived at the Sacramento park he was not met by the 13-year-old “Anthony.” Instead, police arrested Mirken at the park.

The police claimed that Mirken’s e-mail and telephone conversations showed that Mirken was trying to lure the boy into an inappropriate sexual situation. The oral and electronic conversations were flirtatious and sexual, according to the prosecution. In addition, Mirken had used the screen name “Luvboys343” when making contact with “Anthony” on the Internet.

However, Bruce Nickerson, Mirken’s lawyer, told The Village Voice that Mirken had only agreed to meet the boy at the park to interview him for an article he was researching and to see if he could help this troubled gay youth.

“Bruce did not agree to have sex; he simply agreed to meet the boy in public,” Nickerson told the Voice. “And Bruce resisted [the] effort to get him to bring things to the meeting, things like a condom and lubrication and a hotel room key.”

After the prosecution presented its evidence over two days at trial, the judge agreed with the defense that there was insufficient evidence against the journalist.

(California v. Mirken; Media Counsel: Bruce Nickerson, San Carlos)