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Internet Sting Ensnares Well-Known Reporter

Entrapment Defense Fund
is Set Up for Bruce Mirken

Compiled by GayToday

bmirkin.jpg - 21.61 K Bruce Mirken, a respected gay journalist, is getting support from the community. A defense fund has been set up to help pay for his legal fight. Friends and associates of award-winning gay journalist Bruce Mirken have established a defense fund to help defray legal bills stemming from his arrest in July by Sacramento Police Department detectives.

Mirken thought he was investigating a possible story about an apparently troubled gay teenager, not realizing he was in fact falling into a trap laid by the SPD aimed at catching online pedophiles. When he went to meet the "youth," intending to interview him, Mirken was immediately arrested for felony "attempted lewd acts" with the nonexistent minor.

Mirken has vehemently denied the charges, calling them "absolutely, completely false," and those who have worked with him over the years have been vocal in their support.

San Francisco Bay Times publisher/editor Kim Corsaro, who has been publishing Mirken's work regularly for three years and known him for seven, called his arrest "a travesty."

According to Corsaro, "Bruce is one of the premier reporters on the topic of gay youth in the U.S. He's won multiple awards for his stories in this area. This a classic entrapment. There's been a horrible mistake, and this should never, ever have happened to him."

But the cost of fighting the legal battle continues to mount. The writer has already spent over $30,000 in attorney fees, bail bond charges and other expenses related to the case, and that total is expected to escalate in the coming weeks.

AIDS activist Jeff Getty, who made worldwide headlines in 1995 when he received a baboon bone marrow transplant, is helping spearhead the drive, and kicked off the fund with a $500 donation.

"It's time for the queer community to take a stand against police invasion and entrapment on the Internet," Getty said. "I'm supporting Mirken and sending a message to the cops: Stay out of our chatrooms and stay out of our bedrooms."

At a preliminary hearing December 15 Sacramento Municipal Judge Brian R. Van Camp made it clear he saw major weaknesses in the prosecution's evidence, calling it an "extremely close" decision whether the case should even go to trial. This is particularly encouraging because at a preliminary hearing the evidence is limited to what the prosecution presents: Van Camp hadn't even heard the defense's case.

Bruce Nickerson, Mirken's attorney, commented:

"Even if everything the prosecution says is true, no crime has been committed. The evidence is so weak that this judge nearly threw it out--using a very, very low standard of proof. Succeeding court hearings, with higher standards, may very well result in all charges being dismissed."

Initial start-up costs for the fund have been donated, so all gifts received will go directly to cover Mirken's legal expenses, with only the most minimal overhead.

The well-known writer has ordered that any surplus funds be donated to organizations working to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Checks should be made payable to the Bruce Mirken Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 14954, San Francisco, CA 94114. Donations to the fund are not tax-deductible.
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