Ten men have been arrested on public indecency charges in a sex sting at a Kane County forest preserve, The ( Elgin ) Courier News reported last week. One man was also charged with attempted criminal transmission of HIV.
Officials said the three-week undercover operation came after several men complained of being solicited for sex by other men in the Fabyan East Forest Preserve in Geneva.
Kane County Forest Preserve District Chief Charles Budde said his department usually does annual investigations into sexual activity in the preserve, but "it's never been this big. We usually arrest one or two and word spreads."
Sgt. Kevin Hogle of the Kane County Sheriff's Office told the Courier News that the operation involved having undercover officers sit in unmarked cars at the preserve's parking lots at different times of the day. He noted that an Internet site has listed the preserve as a safe place for men to cruise for sex.
Budde told the Courier News that the sting didn't target gay men, though he did tell WCT, "We've never arrested a woman for that. It's always been males."
"Obviously, all of this was on citizen complaints of this kind of activity," Hogle said. " ( The stings have ) been met with a positive situation by the community. ... They're glad that we're going in there. Who wants to take your kid in there?"
In addition to the public indecency charges, one man was also charged with three counts of solicitation of a sex act and attempted criminal transmission of HIV. Hogle told WCT that the latter charge came after both the man and his wife independently told officers that he is HIV positive. The wife also brought the man medication that officers believe is consistent with HIV treatment.
Hogle said the state's attorney is in the process of verifying the man's HIV status.
Criminal transmission of HIV is a Class 2 felony, according to a 1989 law, punishable by three to four years in jail or a $25,000 fine. Under state law, a person is guilty of the offense if he or she, knowing that they are HIV positive, "engages in intimate contact with another," transfers potentially infectious bodily fluids or sells and/or exchanges non-sterile intravenous drug paraphernalia.
Public indecency is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. Three or more convictions make the crime a class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in jail.
Budde and Hogle said the stings will continue.
"It's going to be a continuing process," Hogle said. "We don't want them to think that it's done, because it's not."
While Hogle applauded the local media for getting word out about the sting, some GLBT activists have blasted the Courier News' decision to print the names, ages and hometowns of the men arrested. One activist pointed to a recent incident in which a man committed suicide in a neighboring state after his name was printed on such a list.
In decades past, it was common for newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune to print the names of those arrested in raids on gay bars and at gay cruising areas. Many people lost their jobs and numerous other negative repercussions, including suicides, were documented.