2 min

Crotch-grab & release

Hamilton cruisers caught up in police sweep

On Sep 5, a young plainclothes RCMP officer on a two-month training program with the Hamilton Police Service, walked through Show World, a peep show in the city’s downtown. In the alleyway behind the business, a man allegedly grabbed the officer’s crotch and was arrested for sexual assault.

Hamilton police says they weren’t using the young trainee as a way to entrap men cruising for gay sex; the media relations officer spokesperson for the RCMP says the situation seems to be an anomaly.

“We certainly don’t go into a gay male environment looking to arrest people,” says Acting Cpl Howard Adams of the RCMP. “Not knowing the specifics of the case, I can’t say what transpired, but it’s not something that’s normally done by the RCMP.”

“They weren’t trying to bait someone,” says Hamilton’s deputy chief, Ken Leendertse. “I think it was interesting he ended up getting grabbed.”

It’s also interesting that the story ended up in the Hamilton Spectator, as if it were a big deal, even though the grabber was released on the scene unconditionally without being charge. Leendertse says he’s “flooded” Hamilton’s downtown with cops, through what’s called Project Relief, since a daytime stabbing and a homicide at the beginning of the summer. Leendertse says residents have been avoiding downtown out of fear for their safety. If the downtown is so bad, it’s hard to figure out how a crotch-grabbing behind a porn palace merits an arrest and a news item.

“Are police putting more attention on Show World? No,” says Leendertse. “But with that many officers, they are paying more attention to Show World than they have in the past few years.”

Despite the crotch-grabbing incident and allegations that three teenaged boys were found prostituting themselves behind Show World, Leendertse and the force’s media contact, Sgt Carol Pacey, seemed genuinely surprised to hear that men seeking sex with men might frequent such a place. After all, the porn is straight.

“To me, Show World isn’t a gay establishment. I never thought of it like that. To me, it’s heterosexual men going in there, committing indecent acts,” says Pacey. “I used to work in the downtown core and I wasn’t aware of it being gay.”

Leendertse doesn’t have much sympathy for men who masturbate openly, which he considers indecent: “Just because a person’s gay or lesbian doesn’t mean they have a right to ignore the law.” But he does concede that Show World is a legitimate business, so long as the sex that takes place there happens between consenting adults behind closed viewing-room doors.

“If there’s an expectation of privacy, if they want to have sex and they lock the door, I don’t see an offence then,” he says, So what about peep show cruisers who meet this criteria?

“I don’t care who comes to the downtown core, if they’re not there for criminal activity. I want people to come to the core,” Leendertse says. “You should come to downtown Hamilton yourself.”