Gay Matter

Paul Withers remembered meeting Greg Blue at a Broward health club. After striking up a conversation in the sauna, Blue had confided that he was questioning his sexual orientation. A gay man himself, Withers listened sympathetically. In subsequent chats Blue would confess his sexual desire for Withers, who demurred, advising his troubled acquaintance to seek counseling. Blue had a wife and kids, which posed an obvious dilemma. There was another complication: Blue was a Miami Beach police officer.

Withers would also recall a meeting about a year and a half later, under different circumstances. In October 1992, while on duty, Blue stopped Withers in Miami Beach for a traffic violation. After a computer check indicated he was driving with a suspended license, Withers assured the uniformed officer there had been a mixup. Documents proving his license was valid were at his apartment nearby, he added. According to Withers, as soon as they got inside his apartment, Blue began coming on to him. Despite Withers's repeated protests, the officer rubbed his chest and crotch and motioned for him to proceed to the bedroom. In a panic, Withers fled the apartment and banged on his neighbor's door for help. Blue quickly departed.

Several months later, at the urging of friends, Paul Withers submitted to a tape-recorded interview, signed a sworn statement, and in March 1993 lodged a formal complaint with the Miami Beach Police Department's internal affairs unit. Still fearful of Blue's power as a cop, he opted to come forward because he feared other gay men might have similar experiences at the hands of the muscular six-foot-two-inch officer.

What Withers (who died suddenly of heart failure this past July) didn't know was that internal affairs investigators were already familiar with stories about Officer Blue. This past June, rather than provide internal affairs with a sworn statement, Blue chose to resign. Six weeks ago Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) officials found probable cause to strip him of his state certification.

Despite the disturbing nature of the accusations, official investigations were carried out in virtual silence. Even as then-Chief Phillip Huber was trumpeting improved relations between his force and the local gay community, internal affairs personnel were sorting through a handful of allegations dating back over several years, detailing incidences of sexual misconduct on the part of uniformed officer Greg Blue. This past April the Dade State Attorney's Office quietly resolved not to charge Blue with any crime. Although they had been supplied with the names of four accusers, prosecutors declined to investigate the matter.

Blue's internal affairs file indicates that concern about the 39-year-old patrolman was initially raised by a fellow officer, Ambrose Sims, in October of 1989. Sims had heard secondhand of three incidents in which Blue had made unwanted sexual advances toward men while on duty and in uniform. Because investigators were unable to contact the alleged victims, however, no action was taken. Nearly three years later Sims, an openly gay officer who serves as an informal liaison to the Miami Beach gay community, reported three more alleged incidents to internal affairs. This time one of the stories was more specific, and one accuser slightly more forthcoming.

In an interview with Sgt. Johanna Straight, summarized in the internal affairs file, the alleged victim related how Blue had pulled him over several times. In each instance, the man claimed, Blue instructed him first to park his car into a dark and/or secluded area, and then to approach the driver's side of the patrol car. While he stood outside the driver's door, Blue sat inside and masturbated, the man told Straight. He had stopped visiting Miami Beach, he added, for fear Blue would continue to harass him. Blue's accuser stopped short of providing a formal statement, however, citing possible retaliation by Blue, and when no other accuser came forward, Straight opted not to open a formal investigation.

Ambrose Sims, meanwhile, had grown increasingly alarmed. Working off-duty as a security guard at a gay nightclub on South Beach, he was hearing more rumors about Blue. "It was very frustrating when I realized at a certain point that some of this stuff was probably true," Sims remembers. "I thought about talking with Blue myself, but I had a lot of mixed emotions. I recall wrestling with the possible scenario that by tipping him off to an investigation I might enable him to continue to do this or avoid prosecution. That's why I went to internal affairs."

Straight formally launched her investigation in February of last year, after Paul Withers and another alleged victim came forward. The other formal complaint against Blue, also in the form of a tape-recorded interview and a sworn statement, is both detailed and graphic.

On a Friday evening in July 1992, stated Brad Williams, he was working at a flower shop in the Deauville Hotel at 6701 Collins Ave. when Blue, in uniform, entered the store and requested to use a phone, explaining that there had been a robbery nearby. After Williams directed the officer to a phone, Blue asked if he could come back later to "interrogate" him.

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Steven Almond