Rodney Antonson’s life was turned upside down in August of 1995.
The Renton man was approached by another man who offered sex at Lynnwood’s Scriber Lake Park. When Antonson accepted and exposed himself, he was arrested.
Twenty years later, Antonson is asking for a pardon from Governor Jay Inslee for the public indecency conviction that led to a small monetary fine and being banned from volunteering at any of his children’s school functions. Antonson, now divorced from his wife and in a relationship with a man, argues the police officer who approached him that August day initiated the sex act.
It was entrapment, Antonson’s attorney, John Tymczyszyn, argues.
“The officer approached and offered to engage in sex,” Tymczyszyn told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
Antonson was one of 27 men arrested in two months at the park, The Seattle Times reports. It was part of an undercover patrol in response to men soliciting sex to other men in the public setting.
Tymczyszyn says the officer “basically hit on” his client. At one point, the officer knelt down and encouraged him to expose himself. And then the officer pulled out his badge and arrested him.
But is it really entrapment? Dori asked. Antonson made the decision to expose himself. He could have just walked away.
“If a gorgeous woman made that offer to me in a park, I wouldn’t take her up on it,” Dori told Tymczyszyn. “Isn’t he responsible for what he did?”
Not if it’s entrapment, Tymczyszyn repeated. If an officer violates the law to get someone to commit a crime, it’s not the other party’s fault, he explained.
The incident at the Lynnwood park was the first time Antonson had ever done something like that, according to Tymczyszyn. That’s a little unbelievable, Dori said. Police say when they catch someone driving drunk, it’s very unlikely it is their first time; and probably a habit.
“My client says it was his only time,” Tymczyszyn responded.
So the one time he is offered anonymous sex in a public place, it just so happens an officer is involved?
“That’s what [Antonson] asserts and I believe him,” Tymczyszyn said.
So if it’s so clear that Antonson was the victim of entrapment, why didn’t his attorney get the charges tossed 20 years ago?
Antonson was assigned a public defender. He accepted a deferred sentence with no jail time. Because of the embarrassment of the situation, he chose to follow his attorney’s advice, according to Tymczyszyn.
There are parks and rest stops notorious for people engaging in sex acts, Dori explained to Tymczyszyn. For those people who don’t want this going on in public, what should police do to stop it?
“If [police] catch them, they should be arrested,” Tymczyszyn responded. However, it should not be done through entrapment.
A hearing for Antonson’s request is scheduled for December.