La. Pastor Known for Protesting Gay Festival Sentenced for Lewd Act in Public
A Louisiana pastor known for protesting debauchery in New Orleans has been given three years probation after being convicted of public masturbation in a park, an act which the minister admittedly described as "a thrill."
The Rev. Grant Storms, age 55 of Metairie, La., was convicted of public masturbation Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. Storms was arrested on Feb. 25, 2011 in Lafreniere Park in New Orleans after a witness spotted him touching himself, allegedly with his penis exposed.
Although he initially argued that he was attempting to urinate in a bottle in his car, Storms admitted to police hours after his arrest that that was the third time he had publicly masturbated that week, telling officers that he engaged in the act because it was "a thrill" for him to do so.
The pastor admitted to putting his hands down his pants, but denied ever exposing his penis.
"Why do you go to the park and do this, as far as masturbating?" Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kevin Balser asked Storms hours after he was arrested, according to The Times-Picayune.
Storms responded to Balser by saying, "I don't know, I guess a thrill," and then admitted to the police officer that he saw the public masturbation as the fulfillment of a "thrill-slash-fantasy."
Storms was allegedly spotted masturbating in his minivan near a children's playground, which gave rise to speculations of pedophilia. Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute discredited the pedophile claims during Wednesday's hearing, saying that no child pornography was found on Storms' computer or cell phone.
Before his arrest, Storms led a small local Christian church, The Reformer Church, and hosted "The Reformer Radio Show" on a local radio station for 10 years.
Storms gained nationwide media coverage for protesting the state's annual Southern Decadence festival, a three-day LGBT community festival held in the French Quarter of New Orleans during Labor Day weekend.
The pastor was known to lead his followers in a protest down the festival's main street, Bourbon Street, toting picket signs, bibles, and brooms to "clean up" the festival.