Crime

Commentary | Prosecutors went overboard in Bradenton Beach sex-on-the-beach case

Raise your hand if you’ve had sex on the beach.

I thought so.

This is Florida. Lovebirds flock to the beaches.

That’s one of the reasons I don’t buy that the overzealous prosecution of a couple for allegedly having sex on Anaa Maria Island’s public Bradenton Beach was only about punishing a disturbing display of sexuality in front of beach-going families.

Consider how the fate of Elissa Alvarez, 20, and Jose Caballero, 40, might have unfolded had the couple been Jill and Jack, soccer mom and golfing dad who got a little carried away with “intense cuddling.”

I bet my money that there wouldn’t have been an escalating scandal, an arrest and felony charges — and certainly not a jury that would in less than 15 minutes turn these two into convicted felons who will now be listed on a sex-offender registry.

The police might not have even been called.

The offended family might have simply moved elsewhere — but no, the family had set up their tent mid-morning — and they would spend their entire day next to this voluptuous couple in tiny bathing suits whom they believed to be having public sex.

“What are they doing?” the 3½ -year-old asked.

Great-grandma videotaped the couple — she gyrating on top of him — around 2:30 p.m., and after the couple declined to stop, the family called 911. By 8:40 pm, officers had tracked down Alvarez and Caballero, handcuffed them and charged them with two counts each of lewd and lascivious behavior in front of a minor.

The women in the family — mom, grandma, and great-grandma — testified to graphic details of what they believed to be sex although they never saw a penis or a vagina. What was clear was that they were upset that the couple laughed and ignored the family’s request to stop fondling each other.

Jerks happen — even in quaint Anaa Maria Island.

It’s not South Florida, home to spring breakers, foreign tourists accustomed to going topless, a nude beach frequented by flower-in-your-hair boomers, and rowdy Urban Weekend. Sensibilities and tolerance levels may differ. But still, not one but two prosecutors pushed a case that involves a non-violent offense, grandstanding publicly at every graphic twist and turn.

For sure this couple was wrong and is guilty of stupid arrogance. They should have apologized and taken their party elsewhere.

Both are in jail now awaiting sentencing, which could take up to two months. And so, the beleaguered taxpayers of Florida are already paying the bill for the incarceration of two convicted felons whose only crime was to get frisky on the beach and disregard people around them. Not to use Bill Clinton’s defense, but no one testified to seeing penetration.

Worst of all, two consenting adults who had sex are now on the register of real and despicable sex offenders, making the rest of us question how reliable that database really is.

If sexual behavior on the beach was worthy of such fanatical prosecution — and a forever stamp on your forehead as a sexual predator — jails in Florida would need to undergo major expansion.

That would be, of course, if we prosecuted every offender — not just the ones we don’t like.

The prosecutor said he wanted to make an example of the misbehaving couple, and that he has achieved. I’ve seen young people on social media joking that they’ve taken sex on the beach off their bucket list.

Whew, I feel so much safer in the water now.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article20551449.html#storylink=cpy

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