Metro Weekly

Charges Against Brett Parson May Be Dropped

Florida prosecutors are expected to drop underage sex charges against Brett Parson, the former head of MPD's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit.

Brett Parson, Florida, minor, dc police officer, lgbt liaison unit
Brett Parson – Photo: Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office

A hearing has been scheduled next week at which Florida prosecutors are expected to drop the case against former Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Brett Parson, who was charged with two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Parson, 55, pleaded not guilty to charges that he allegedly engaged in oral sex with a then-16-year-old male he met on the Growlr gay dating app back in February of 2022.

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. Defendants charged with such offenses may not use their lack of knowledge of a minor’s age as a defense — even in cases where a minor may have lied or deceived their sexual partner about their age.

According to court records, Parson is next scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Monday, March 13 at 8:30 a.m. at the Broward County Central Courthouse, at which point prosecutors are expected to drop or dismiss the two charges against him.

At that hearing, the prosecutor will provide full details of the reasoning for dropping the charges. 

According an email sent to Metro Weekly from the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, part of the reason includes that the parents of the victim recently informed prosecutors that they did not wish to move forward with the case.

“It is anticipated the prosecutor will drop or dismiss the two counts of unlawful sex with a minor,” a spokesperson with the Broward County State Attorney’s Office wrote in the email. “If the hearing goes ahead as anticipated, the prosecutor will provide the judge with full details. These include that the parents of the victim, who was 16 at the time of the incident, recently informed prosecutors that he does not want to go forward with the case.”

The news of the charges potentially being dropped marks a reversal of fate for Parson, who, if convicted, faces up to 15 years in prison for each charge. 

Parson would also have to register as a sex offender after serving his sentence, as he does not qualify for an exemption under the state’s “Romeo and Juliet” law.

Under that law, adults under the age of 24 who engage in consensual sex with minors are prosecuted, but do not have to register as sex offenders after serving out their punishment.

Parson’s attorney of record, Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer Michael Dutko, was not immediately available for comment. A message left requesting comment from Dutko was not returned as of press time. 

Parson, who retired from MPD in early 2020 after serving 26 years on the force, 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.

Although retired, Parson was an officer in MPD’s Reserve Corps at the time of his arrest, but was later terminated from that position after the department was made aware of his arrest.

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