"Homosexuals who are openly gay go to gay bars to act on that lifestyle, those who aren't able to declare their preference -- those with community standing -- are more inclined to frequent the rest stops." --- Major Michael Hovious, Hendricks County Sheriff's Department
Public Indecency: a charge pending against a neighboring city's priest, was a shock felt farther than Terre Haute's boundaries when two Brazil residents were arrested on the same charge.
An issue the entire nation has been facing in light of the Catholic Church sex abuse saga was brought even closer to home when the sex sting operation at an I-70 rest stop nabbed John "Mike" Hoffman, 56, Wednesday and Kerry E. Logston, 39, on May 14. One other Wabash Valley resident, Kenneth G. Ulrey, 66, of Robinson, Ill., was also arrested on the charge. A Catholic priest, Ronald M. Ashmore, 58, of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Terre Haute, was arrested by an undercover state police detective last week on a a public indecency charge after the officer claimed the priest exposed himself at the Plainfield rest stop.
The Hendricks County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police worked jointly in a two-week undercover operation to curb homosexual activity at the I-70 rest stop, where Major Michael Hovious, of the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department explained homosexuals have bore holes in the walls separating the stalls to not only expose themselves through, but also to satiate an appetite for voyeurism, an additional charge which Logston faces.
"It's not a reputation we'd like in this county," Hovious said. Detective Terry Judy agreed.
"A majority of the complaints we received from out there was public indecency," Judy said, adding that the undercover officers provided extra patrols in the area throughout the two-week period, arresting 21 individuals on the class-A misdemeanor alone. If convicted, those charged could face up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Rest stops in general have been noted to be homosexual meeting places, especially those who aren't out of the closet. Many, like Ashmore, are held in high esteem in their communities.
"Homosexuals who are openly gay go to gay bars to act on that lifestyle, those who aren't able to declare their preference -- those with community standing -- are more inclined to frequent the rest stops," Hovious said, adding that it's not a crime to solicit a sexual act, but to expose yourself or touch someone in a sexual manner, it is a crime.
The Hendricks County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police have conducted several other homosexual-related investigations. Hovious pointed out that, at the I-74 rest stop recently, a physician, another priest and a police commissioner were among the many arrested at that time.
"They're trying to keep their sexual orientation a secret and are acting in 'secret' places," Hovious said.
Ashmore, Hoffman, Logston and Ulrey were all released on bail.
Hoffman declined comment regarding his arrest, and Logston did not return calls to his residence Tuesday.