JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A video showing a woman performing a sexual act on a man inside the Duval County Courthouse during business hours has prompted charges against them both, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Monday.
Jeremiah Robinson, 35, turned himself in at the jail on Monday on a warrant charging him with unnatural and lascivious act. He was ordered held on $10,000 bond.
Brittney Jones, 26, who posted video of the act on social media last week, is still wanted on the same charge.
Robinson made his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon and entered a not guilty plea.
Typically, people will not enter a plea during a first appearance hearing. But because the charge of unnatural and lascivious act is a misdemeanor, that's what Robinson did. He said he's innocent.
"He is very frustrated. It has caused a lot of hardship for his family. He is a father," said Vernon Jackson, Robinson's attorney. "My client is entitled to the presumption of innocence, although, this case has become a real big thing as gossip in the city. There are still facts and law that everyone must adhere to and I just don’t want everyone to get carried away with the situation that has emerged."
Jackson said the charge is a stretch.
"I believe the statute is very broad and very vague and would reach into so many acts, even I don't know how it could be enforced and applied in a consistent manner," Jackson said. "I believe (it) could become an issue if this case isn't resolved soon."
Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said he believes that JSO used an old misdemeanor law to make a point to the public and deter people from having sex on public property.
"To arrest someone for unnatural and lascivious sex you have to prove two things," Smith said. "One, that the act did occur and they have that on video. And two is what we call unnatural sex. It's an old law that's in the book, but it's any type of sexual act that is not for the purpose of procreating. It's a law that was used many years ago to arrest homosexuals."
Attorney Randy Reep, who is not connected to the case, said he believes it will be hard to prove the act was unnatural.
"Here, it is an activity that people will find distasteful, if you will, but ... you have to find a jury that will say it is unnatural. As to that act, I don’t think you are going to find that," Reep said. "What I want people to understand is it's not the location that makes the act unnatural. Inappropriate, to be sure, but that location isn't what makes it unnatural. It is, 'Is that act unnatural?'"
The second-degree misdemeanor charge could carry a sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if there's a conviction, according to Smith.
Sex in courthouse hallway draws investigation
News4Jax is not showing the graphic video, which was recorded Jan. 31 on the fourth floor of the courthouse. The video clearly shows the sex act on a bench in the hallway outside Courtroom 401.
When first contacted Wednesday morning, the court administrator wasn't aware of the incident, but launched an investigation after seeing the video of what happened.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Integrity Unit, which looks into operations of court employees, is investigating.
The police report said the suspicious activity was observed by video surveillance.
According to the report, the activity consisted of a man and woman engaging in what appeared to be inappropriate behavior while the woman was at the courthouse for a 9 a.m. arraignment on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, smuggling contraband into jail and violation of probation.
Court records show she pleaded no contest.
Jones' father told News4Jax Monday that he did not wish to comment.
Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Jones is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
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