Attorneys who helped dismiss charges against a Long Beach man arrested for exposing himself to an undercover officer at a park in 2014 based on discriminatory grounds received an award at the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club’s 35th annual Human Rights Banquet at the Betty Reckas Cultural Center over the weekend.
Stephanie Loftin and Bruce Nickerson were presented with the Donald Snow Community Advocate Award Friday evening by the very man they helped—50-year-old Long Beach resident Rory Moroney.
“I stand here to acknowledge with so much gratitude,” Moroney told the crowd. “I couldn't have gotten through the past two and a half to three years—it’s a privilege, it's an honor, to present the [award].”
In April, a Superior Court judge dismissed charges against Moroney that would have forced him to register as a sex offender for life if he was found guilty. Moroney was arrested in October 2014 after he masturbated in front of an undercover officer at Recreation Park.
The judge found officers were systematically targeting men engaging in homosexual sex during their undercover lewd conduct investigations and Recreation Park through misleading information in their reports.
At the time of the dismissal, Nickerson said two years' worth of police reports found that 100 percent of all undercover arrests for lewd conduct were of males by male officers acting as decoys during investigations of cruising activities in a public place.
In accepting his award, Nickerson spoke of Moroney’s trial, pointing out on the significance of Rory’s testimony to the case.
“I said, ‘Rory, we need you to get up on the stand and tell the judge what happened,’ and he said, ‘I’ll do it,’” Nickerson recounted. “Can you imagine folks, coming out of the closet for the first time to the world, to your family, under oath, in a courtroom, fighting for your liberty. That’s what this man did.”
In June, the attorneys announced a class action with Moroney as the lead class representative.
Other awardees included:
- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon with the Michael Lonergan Champion of Change Award
- Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez with the Franklin Cook Visionary Award
- Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman with the Jean Harris Person of the Year award
- Long Beach City College Trustee Doug Otto with the Jenny Oropeza Ally of the Year award
- Long Beach Firefighters Local 372 with the Rob Kramme Political Action Award
Above, left photo courtesy of Long Beach Law.