A 42-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, both homeless of long date in town, were arrested for having sex on a sidewalk by the PNC Bank building on Belle Terre Parkway in Palm Coast Wednesday.
The couple, Michael Brougher and Mary Cosper, did so within sight of a group of other homeless people, who were lounging by an overhang. A mattress had been placed on the sidewalk. When a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy responded, the deputy reported that the couple was actively engaged in sex “in the missionary position,” even as the deputy walked up to them.
It was nearly 11 p.m., well past bank hours.
A deputy told them to stop. Both sat up, seemingly as unconcerned about their nakedness as Adam and Eve before the fall, until the deputy told them to cover themselves. Cosper had to be told several times to do so. Brougher told the deputy he couldn’t help himself, Cosper was his girlfriend. They’d had a few drinks to accompany their tryst.
Both have had run-ins with the law before. Cosper is well known to local deputies, and last year was arrested on a charge of battering another homeless man. The charge was dropped.
Both were placed under arrest Wednesday night–not for having sex, which remains legal in Florida, but for exposing their organs in a public place, a first-degree misdemeanor. They were then placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and taken to the county jail. On the way there, Cosper and Brougher continued their tryst, but verbally, she telling him she wished they were still enraptured, and he feeling grateful, but for a different reason.
“I’m glad they let me put some clothes on so I’m not walking down the street naked,” he told her, according to his arrest report.
“Why are we being arrested?” she asked him.
“We were having sex, apparently,” he said.
When the deputy asked him if he’d been drinking, Brougher said he’d had 58 beers, an unlikely amount: when the couple was tested for blood-alcohol content, it was relatively high, but indicated they were more in the three to four drinks range, at least in the period leading up to the arrest. She blew a 0.19 percent blood alcohol, he blew a 0.29 percent. An issue of more serious concern emerged as Brougher was being processed through the medical station at the jail: he told the nurse that he was currently being tested for HIV, but that he’d told Cosper as much before they had sex.
Cosper said that was not true, which may lead to further charges against Brougher. While the sexual-exposure charge will likely result in little more than time served in the jail, not disclosing one’s HIV status to a partner is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
The arrest on a sexually-related charge isn’t the first for Brougher. Six years ago he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for making obscene texts and calls to his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child (they’d separated in 2012). In one of the texts, he told his ex in considerably more colorful language that he used to believe in love, but no longer, and that it was all sex now. The charge was dropped after Brougher lived up to a deferred prosecution agreement. He has also been trespassed from the Bunnell public library.
Arrests for public indecency of the sort are rare in Flagler. The closest thing to a sexual act in public in Palm Coast goes back three years, and that was part of a sting operation the sheriff’s office conducted in Graham Swamp, all but enticing individuals to expose themselves–and two did, resulting in slightly more serious charges: They were sentenced to a year’s probation.