Prosecutors in Cumberland County, Pa. are defending their handling of an elderly gay man who was jailed for 22 months after reportedly engaging in oral sex with two other residents of his nursing home.
Leroy G. Martin, 81, of Cheswick, experienced the lengthy incarceration after having oral sex with two male residents in a Pennsylvania nursing home in 2019. He recently filed suit against the nursing home, seeking more than $3 million in damages. Martin claims he had consensual sex with the other men. But prosecutors say one of Martin’s sex recipients has a brain injury and the other was sleeping. Thus, neither man was capable of granting consent.
The alleged crimes occurred at the Southampton Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation facility in Shippensburg, a small town about 125 miles west of Philadelphia.
Staffers at Southampton witnessed Martin’s sex acts and reported him to law-enforcement officials, who subsequently arrested and jailed him. Martin was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and indecent assault. He faced a lengthy prison sentence. But after 22 months of incarceration, the charges against Martin were withdrawn by prosecutors, with the permission of a local judge.
Neither sex recipient complained about receiving oral sex from Martin prior to law enforcement’s involvement, according to Martin’s 89-page lawsuit, filed last month in Cumberland County Common Pleas Court.
Last week, Sean M. McCormack, Cumberland County’s chief deputy district attorney, defended the charges. McCormack told PGN that Martin engaged in non-consensual sex with the men, thus the criminal charges lodged against him were appropriate.
“We still believe the charges filed against Mr. Martin were appropriate,” McCormack said, in an email. “We allege that he engaged in sexual activity with someone who — due to his mental state — was incapable of consenting to the sexual contact. It was further alleged that a second victim was sleeping and unaware that Mr. Martin was performing a sexual act upon him. The facts of both incidents give rise to the crimes he was charged with. The decision to pursue charges in this case was in no way based on the defendant’s sexual orientation. He was alleged to be engaging in non-consensual sex, and that is a crime. Our decision to seek a nolle prosequi (withdrawal) of the charges was not based upon any decision on our part that we could not prove the charges. There are many factors we consider when determining the appropriate disposition of criminal charges. In this case, after consulting with the families of the victims and taking into consideration Mr. Martin’s advanced age and medical condition, we made a decision that we feel was the best outcome for everyone involved.”
A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police declined to comment for this story, other than to note that PSP personnel undergo extensive LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusivity training.
Because Martin was under a cloud of suspicion, he had difficulty finding another nursing home that would accept him. Eventually, he became a resident at a nursing facility in Cheswick, Pa. Moreover, Martin couldn’t pay the $20,000 bail imposed upon him, which contributed to his lengthy jail stay, according to the lawsuit.
Martin was incarcerated from late October 2019 through September 2021, despite having Parkinson’s disease and being vulnerable to Covid, according to the lawsuit.
Martin is seeking more than $3 million in damages and a jury trial. Martin’s attorney, J. Conor Corcoran, said he’ll advocate vigorously on behalf of his client.
“You can bet your bottom dentures that we’re going to pursue the nursing home for what they did to Leroy,” Corcoran told PGN. “And it’s all because of Leroy’s pursuit of his God’s given right to engage in consensual sexual activity with another man.”
Attorneys for Southampton had no comment for this story.