Metro Weekly

Former D.C. police officer Brett Parson arrested on sex with minor charges in Florida

Police allege Brett Parson arranged to meet a 16-year-old male and then engaged in oral sex.

Brett Parson, Florida, minor, dc police officer, lgbt liaison unit
Brett Parson

Brett Parson, a retired D.C. police lieutenant who led the Metropolitan Police Department’s LGBT liaison unit, has been arrested in Florida for allegedly engaging in oral sex with a minor.

Parson, 53, was arrested on Feb. 12 in Boca Raton on a warrant issued by the Coconut Creek Police Department.

According to an arrest affidavit and arrest warrant obtained by Metro Weekly, Parson has been charged with two felony counts of sexual activity with a minor. He has been accused of meeting a 16-year-old male and engaging in oral sex — both giving and receiving, which each carry a separate charge.

If convicted, Parson could face up to 15 years in prison for each charge.

According to the affidavit, police officers in Coconut Creek observed two vehicles — a red convertible Buick and a gray Ford Focus — that appeared to be following each other early in the morning on Feb. 12.

The Ford turned into a restricted access facility owned by Comcast, while the Buick waited in the middle of the roadway. The officers approached the driver of the Buick, who identified himself as Parson, stating that he was a police officer.

Parson said he was from Washington, D.C. and was visiting his parents in Boca Raton because his mother had just had surgery, and claimed to have gotten lost looking for Interstate 95. The officers gave him directions and he left the scene.

The officers then approached the other driver, a 16-year-old male, who told them he had met with a man named Brett via Growlr. He said that Brett told him he was looking for “no strings attached casual sex” and the two traded explicit pictures of themselves with each other.

The 16-year-old alleged that Parson had invited him over his parents’ house in Boca Raton, but they instead agreed to meet at a Shell gas station in Coconut Creek at 1 a.m. on Feb. 12.

The youth said that they talked for a few minutes, then tried to find a secluded place. They kissed and engaged in reciprocal oral sex, but the 16-year-old got nervous due to a person walking on foot through the area, so the two agreed to move to another location, when they were spotted by the officers traveling east on Johnson Road. 

Police contacted the 16-year-old’s parents, who said they wished to pursue charges against Parson. The 16-year-old provided information about Parson, including that he either was or used to be a police officer, and turned over his phone, where detectives were able to see his past messages with Parson, including sexually explicit photos they had exchanged.

The 16-year-old later participated in a “double-blind photographic lineup” in which he identified Parson’s picture as the man with whom he’d had oral sex.

It remains unclear from the affidavit, and the Growlr conversations cited in it, whether Parson was aware of the youth’s age, although the sergeant who filed the arrest affidavit claims the victim “is a thin build male who clearly does not appear to be 18 years of age or older.”

Because Parson is older than 24, he falls outside the bounds of Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law, passed in 2007, which exempts young adults who engage in consensual acts with close-in-age teenagers from having to register as sex offenders.

However, the age of consent in Florida remains 18 years old. As such, engaging in sex with anyone under 18, even if the victim verbally consented, is considered statutory rape. People accused of having sex with minors may not argue in court that they were unaware of the minor’s age, or the minor pretended to be older than 18 or intentionally lied about their age.

Parson was later arrested by Boca Raton police, acting on an out-of-county warrant issued by Coconut Creek police. Court records show that Parson is being held at the Main Detention Center in Palm Beach County without bond. It remains unclear whether Parson has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Parson, who retired in early 2020 after 26 years with MPD, served as head of the former Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, then headquartered in the city’s historic Dupont Circle “gayborhood.”

In that role, he was a frequent fixture at local LGBTQ events, including Capital Pride, the annual High Heel Race, and memorials or vigils held to call attention to anti-LGBTQ violence or high-profile murders, especially of members of the District’s transgender community.

Parson was later tapped by former MPD Chief Cathy Lanier to head the reorganized Special Liaison Unit, which was tasked with developing a plan to expand the special liaison unit’s services and culturally competent training to all seven of the city’s police districts.

He returned to head the renamed Special Liaison Branch — overseeing the liaison units for the Asian, Latino, and deaf and hard-of-hearing communities as well as the LGBT Liaison Unit — as an acting supervisor from 2017 until his retirement. He did remain at an officer in MPD’s Reserve Corps. 

A spokesperson for MPD told Metro Weekly that it was made aware of Parson’s arrest on Sunday morning, at which point it terminated him from the Reserve Corps.

The spokesperson declined to answer a question about whether Parson would receive a pension from the department for his 26 years on the job, and declined comment on Parson’s past role with the LGBT Liaison Unit.

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