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Man arrested in a toilet and falsely accused of exposing his penis is now suing the MTA

Sofia Lotto Persio July 18, 2018

Urinals hang on a wall in a newly-inaugurated gender-free toilet at the office building of the city's Senate Administration for Work, Integration and Women (Senatsverwaltung fuer Arbeit, Integration und Frauen) on November 24, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The administration has converted four of its previously separate men's and women's toilets to gender-free toilets in a sign of respect towards Berlin's trans-gender community, who otherwise often face potentially uncomfortable decisions or confrontations in the use of public toilets. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A man is suing the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) after he was arrested and charged with a number of false allegations, including exposing himself and endangering children.

Papers filed on Friday at the Manhattan Supreme Court showed that the plaintiff, William Campbell, was arrested on the morning of April 17 while using the public restroom at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. According to the lawsuit, quoted in the New York Daily News, Campbell was accosted by a man who “leaned over and looked at petitioner’s penis.”

Campbell reacted by pushing the man away. An MTA police officer then apprehended Campbell, saying the man shouted at him, “What are you doing you f*****g faggot?” and called him a “dirty homo” before arresting him, cuffing him so tightly his “wrists bled.”

Commuters wait for train service at Grand Central Terminal on May 15, 2018 in New York City (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty)

Campbell also said the cop yelled “another pee-pee case” as he walked him out of the bathroom. As he could not immediately pay out the $1,000 bail, he ended up spending 72 hours in lockup.

The criminal complaint brought against Campbell “falsely stated that there were children in the restroom at the time petitioner was using the urinal, there were no children in the area; that petitioner unlawfully exposed his penis, he did not, he was using the urinal; and that petitioner was carrying in his backpack a knife with a 10-inch blade, he was not in possession of a knife,” the lawsuit says, accusing the MTA of “unlawful arrest” and seeking damages.

Campbell was exonerated from all charges by a jury after “numerous” court appearances, the details of which are not available to the public.

New York City Metro Transit Authority (MTA) police stand guard at Grand Central Station on March 23, 2004 (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty)

The officer was not identified and a MTA spokesperson could not tell PinkNews whether he was still employed with the force.

“We cannot comment on the specifics of this case or any pending litigation. MTA Police officers are vital to maintaining a safe environment for Metro-North customers and all who visit Grand Central,” the MTA spokesperson said.

Police officers have for decades gone undercover in public restrooms to catch gay men in “lewd acts”—one of the most well-known cases is that of late pop star George Michael, who was arrested in a Beverly Hills park toilet in 1998 during a police operation.

Two decades since that case made worldwide news, victims of such police practices are fighting back. In 2017, a class action lawsuit was brought forward against the Port Authority of New York and the New Jersey police for engaging in “a pattern and practice of targeting men perceived as gay, or gender or non-conforming [sic], on baseless charges including public lewdness and exposure.”

This article has been updated to reflect that it’s unclear whether the man accused of lewd behaviour and the MTA officer who apprehended Campbell are the same person.

More: cruising, Metropolitan Transport Authority, New York, police, US

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