Brett Parson, a former Metropolitan Police Department officer who headed the department’s LGBTQ Liaison Unit during his 26-year career, will appear in court for an arraignment on April 19 at 8:30 a.m. as he faces two charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
Parson, 53, pleaded not guilty to charges that he engaged in oral sex with a 16-year-old he met on the Growlr gay dating app.
If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison for each charge.
Under Florida law, the age of consent is 18 years old. Engaging in sex with anyone under 18, even if the victim consents, is considered second-degree “sexual battery.”
Parson does not qualify under the state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law, which exempts adults under the age of 24 who have sex with a minor from having to register as sex offenders after serving out their punishment.
Broward County Circuit Court Judge Phoebee Francois found probable cause to believe that Parson had committed the crimes he is accused of, and set $25,000 bail for each of the charges.
Parson, who was visiting his parents in South Florida in February, turned himself in to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office after learning that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.
The 16-year-old claimed he had met Parson on the Growlr app and agreed to meet up at a local gas station after trading explicit pictures.
The youth claims he and Parson kissed and engaged in reciprocal oral sex, but that he got nervous about passersby on foot, so Parson agreed to move to another location.
The two were driving down a major highway, trailing each other as they looked for a place to turn off. The 16-year-old turned into a restricted access facility owned by Comcast, but Parson did not follow.
Coconut Creek Police Department officers pulled Parson over, and asked him about what he was doing.
According to an arrest affidavit, Parson identified himself as a police officer from D.C. who claimed to have gotten lost looking for Interstate 95. The officers gave him directions and he left the scene.
The police next questioned the teenage driver, who told them his story of how he and Parson had planned to meet for “no strings attached casual sex.” After learning the teen was a minor, police alerted his parents, who decided to press charges against Parson.
According to electronic court records, Parson is being represented by Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer Michael Dutko. Metro Weekly attempted to reach Dutko for comment, but did not hear back as of press time.
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