OutFest couple found not guilty

A gay couple arrested during OutFest was found not guilty of all charges this week. Judge Charles Hayden handed down not-guilty verdicts during a joint trial Nov. 25 for Anthony Reto and Thomas Berner. The pair was arrested Oct. 13 and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal conspiracy, both summary charges. The pair was arrested by Civil Affairs officers near 12th and Locust streets after taking a photo in front of protesters from antigay group Repent America. One officer contended Reto pushed him from behind, which both men denied. Reto was physically restrained by several officers on the ground. Berner was arrested when he tried to reach his partner. Reto and Berner, who filed a complaint against the officers with Internal Affairs, rejected a plea deal last month that would have required them to plead guilty and receive a sentence of community service and/or fines to be eligible to have their records expunged. Reto and Berner were represented by Lloyd Long 3rd of Kraner, Hughes & Long, LLC. Officers Adrian Hospedale and Erin Tokley were present at Monday’s trial to testify about the arrests. Reto and Berner testified, as did two witnesses who saw the event unfold. Long said the prosecution “was not able to put together a case that proved in any way that either of them engaged in acts they were accused of.” “Testimony from police was not credible. I think that there were portions that even the officers disagreed about. The two credible witnesses came forward and testified that [the defendants] did nothing violent to the officers.” Berner told PGN that he and Reto were grateful that all the support they saw in the past month from the LGBT community. “Everyone that reached out to try to link us up to people who could help us was really incredible,” he said. “And we both would also just like to thank Lloyd and his firm for his representation during this difficult time.” Civil Affairs Capt. Stephen Glenn met with the Philadelphia LGBT Police Liaison Committee, who had a representative at this week’s proceeding, earlier this month to discuss the arrest. Before Pride and OutFest events, Civil Affairs officers will meet with Philly Pride Presents coordinators and the committee to go through protocol, a practice that had been discontinued the past few years.