Elderly gay Navy veteran jailed for almost two years for having consensual sex in nursing home

Fingers of an old man clasping a walking stick

A gay senior with Parkinson’s disease spent 22 months in jail after care home staffers saw him giving oral sex to a fellow resident.

At the Southampton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, Leroy Martin, an 81-year-old Navy veteran, had consensual sex with at least two men during the summer and autumn of 2019.

But staffers at the centre saw it differently. They sought to paint Martin as a “sexual predator” by phoning the police on him because he is gay, a civil lawsuit said.

“This was consensual with both men,” his lawyer, J Conor Corcoran, said. “If it had been an Adam and Eve story instead of Adam and Steve, they wouldn’t even have called the police.”

Gay senior jailed after staff became ‘hell-bent on painting him a predator’

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, Martin, who uses a wheelchair, was in a long-term relationship at the time when he engaged in the sex acts.

It was all consensual, Corcoran, said. According to the suit, filed in Cumberland County Common Please Court last month, nurses saw Martin perform oral sex on a 43-year-old resident on 29 October 2019.

Alarmed, they flagged it with the supervisor who reported it to the Pennsylvania State Police. The act could not have been consensual, care home bosses told the force because the younger man had suffered a brain injury.

The younger man took part in oral sex with Martin because he “hadn’t been with a woman in 21 years,” he told police according to the complaint.

Martin also had sex with a second man, a now-deceased senior. The man, who was straight, never alerted the authorities because he was ashamed to receive oral sex from a man.

“I like women,” he told police during the interview, “I don’t like men.:

Facility workers, however, forced him to speak to the police about the incident.

“They were hell-bent on falsely painting Mr Martin as a sexual predator, and with a pink brush to boot,” Corcoran, who specialises in civil rights law, said in a statement.

“The nursing home lied to the state police that the men with whom Mr Martin had sex were incapable of consent.”

Pennsylvania State Police charged Martin with involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and indecent assault. During his time behind bars, prison staff withheld his medication.

Martin instead found solace from his fellow inmates all the while COVID-19 ripped through the prison. “There’s some real inmates in the Cumberland County Jail who looked after him,” Corcoran said.

The care home, operated by Restore Health, refused to let Martin return to the facility, meaning that district attorney office officials who had been considering dropping the case could not.

In the lawsuit, Corcoran has alleged false arrest, emotional distress, and negligence from the care home staff. His client has since been moved to a rehabilitation centre in Allegheny County.

“The Plaintiff’s homosexuality was outrageously, egregiously[…] and unlawfully treated as a crime by the Defendants herein,” the lawsuit stated.

Some elderly queer people living in nursing homes or assisted-living centres or receiving home care, have reported living in an almost state of fear, research published by the National Institutes of Health has found.

Dependent on strangers to live, some have reported being shunned and abused for being LGBT+ – others are too scared to come out.