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Bruce Mirkin: A Gay Reporter Under Fire

Outpouring of Support Grows for his Defense

Sting Victim is 'Absolutely Overwhelmed'

Compiled by GayToday

bmirkin.jpg - 21.61 K Bruce Mirken Gay journalist Bruce Mirken said today that he is "absolutely overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support he has received since the announcement of a legal defense fund to support his fight against charges stemming from a Sacramento Police Department sting operation.

"It's gratifying that so many friends have stood by me, but what really amazes me is the number of total strangers who have helped out," Mirken said.

Mirken, winner of 11 journalism awards for his reporting on gay and lesbian youth, HIV/AIDS and other issues, believed he was investigating a possible story about a troubled gay teen last summer when in fact he was stumbling into the San Francisco PD's sting. When he went to meet the nonexistent youth, intending to interview him, he was immediately arrested for "attempted lewd acts" with the minor, charges he has vehemently denied.

At a December 15 preliminary hearing Sacramento Municipal Judge Brian R. Van Camp came close to throwing out the charges, calling it an "extremely close" decision whether the case should even go to trial. Mirken's lawyer, Bruce Nickerson, is preparing a motion to have Van Camp's decision reviewed by a superior court judge, in hopes of getting the charges dismissed.

Nickerson has explained to reporters that the prosecution's case is weak on several grounds. For one thing, he noted, the "attempt" consisted merely of showing up for a meeting. "They (undercover cops) attempted to persuade him to show up with condoms and lubrication. He showed up with nothing," the attorney told Boston's Bay Windows. "I have reviewed everything they have, and I do not believe they have a case."

Previous People Feature articles from the GayToday Archive:
Internet Sting Ensnares Well-Known Reporter

Police Entrapment Slapped Down by a Superior Court Judge

Tiptoe through the Tearoom on Tabloid TV

Texas: 2 Males Jailed for Private Bedroom Sex

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AIDS activist Jeff Getty, who has been spearheading the effort to rally support for Mirken, said, "Even with very little publicity we've already had dozens of contributions.

"Mostly it's been small checks from ordinary folks--the kind of regular, grassroots people that Mirken's always written about, not the rich and the powerful. It's great, but we need to do more."

A number of gay and lesbian community notables have signed a fundraising letter on Mirken's behalf, including Getty, Morris Kight, co-founder in 1969 of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front, AIDS Treatment News publisher/editor John S. James and San Francisco Bay Times publisher/editor Kim Corsaro, who publishes Mirken's work regularly. Corsaro has called Mirken's arrest "a complete travesty."

Another supporter is Lyn Duff, whose incarceration in a Utah mental institution for forced "reparative therapy" at the age of 15 was documented in a series of articles Mirken wrote from 1991 to 1994. After the institution's officials denied that they were in the business of "treating" gay and lesbian youths' sexual orientation, Mirken set up a telephone sting and caught them offering to do just that.

More recently, Mirken has written extensively about the Boy Scouts, documenting the suffering the Scouts' anti-gay policy inflicts on gay teens in scouting.

Mirken's attorney fees, bail costs and other expenses have totaled over $34,000 thus far, and the costs are expected to grow if the case goes to trial, which could happen as soon as the first week in March.

The writer also lost over a week's worth of income because detectives searched his apartment and seized his computer, backup disks, address book, appointment calendar and other materials vital to his work, forcing him to miss several assignments. "They ransacked the place," Mirken said. "It took me three days just to put my apartment back together."

The surge of support has been an emotional experience for the writer. "We don't have the person-power to send thank-you letters to everyone, but I want all the people who've helped to know that I'm grateful more than words can ever say," Mirken said.

"It's so heartening, I can't even begin to describe it." In its first month the Bruce Mirken Legal Defense Fund received just over $3,000 in contributions, with a steady trickle continuing to arrive--often accompanied by notes offering kind words and encouragement..
How to Help:

Contributions will go toward any further attorney fees, costs of expert witnesses and other expenses directly related to the writer's legal defense. At the end of the legal proceedings, any leftover funds will be donated to organizations serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people. Checks payable to the:

Bruce Mirken Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 14954
San Francisco, California 94114.

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