From the Archive: SGN Article Published July 7, 1978: Freeman Charges Dismissed

PublisherThe Monastery

This article was written by Ava Ward and published in the Seattle Gay News on July 7, 1978:

Charges against two of the three persons cited during a May 19 raid on a gay-rights fundraiser have been dismissed.

Seattle District Cout Judge Frank L. Sullivan on June 30 dismissed charges against George Freeman and a minor. Freeman, manager of the Monastery, where the fundraiser was being held, had been charged with dispensing of alcohol without a license. The minor had been charged with under-age drinking.

The citations were issued during a benefit sponsored by the Seattle Committee Against Thirteen (S.C.A.T). The committee, an arm of the Washington Coalition for Sexual Minority Rights, is working against Initiative 14, which would repeal Seattle’s gay-rights ordinances.

Still pending is the charge against Jerry DeGrieck, cited for dispensing alcohol to a minor. His trial is set for August 7. DeGrieck estimates that he will need $1,500 to cover legal costs for his trial and is inviting contributions. (For more information call 322-1023 or 322-2000.)

In dismissing charges against the minor, Judge Sulivan said he was shocked to find in his court file the first report of the prosecution, including the officer’s report of violation and specific details of planned testimony against the minor. Judge Sullivan ruled that any conclusion made by him must be on testimony actually given during the trial and on court exhibits – nothing else.

In the case against Freeman, the judge found that the banquet permit issued to S.C.A.T. was adequate, and that the state had failed to show that Freeman was involved in any conspiracy to offer invalid information to the Liquor Control Board, responsible for the raid. The state maintained that the address on the permit, 11 Stewart, was nonexistent. Freeman told this newspaper that he had recommended that the Coalition members use the Monastery’s alternate address, 1100 Stewart, because experience had taught him that the use of this address had resulted in the issue of a banquet permit. Somehow, through error, 1100 Stewart St. became 11 Stewart on the application, Freeman suggest.

Liquor Control Board enforcement officer Liz Thorning, who seized the permit during the raid, testified  that she was surprised to find the permit, which was posted on a wall in the basement of the Monastery. Liquor Control officer Keith Lewellen, in charge of the raid, testified that he knew a banquet permit had been issued, although he had no idea to whom. Lewellen also testified that he had arranged for members of the Monastery to accompany Liquor Control officers into the Monastery the night of the raid. Lewellen said he felt “escorts” might be needed because the Monastery is a private club, and being accompanied by members would make entry to the premises easier for the officers.

A motion was made by defense attorney John Henry Browne to suppress the evidence acquired during the raid on the grounds that the event was a private party, and any evidence achieved without a search warrant should not be considered. The judge denied the motion, reasoning that any member of the public presenting the $3.50 required admission fee would have been admitted, and that any evidence apparent to the public could be used by the prosecution.

Lewellen said the reason for the raid was numerous complaints against the Monastery, even from other gay bars and taverns in the area. Officer Thorning testified that the control board had received complaints from licensed establishments in the area, and one from an applicant for a liquor permit.

When asked why he felt the Monastery had been raided the night of the fundraiser, Freeman replied, “Obviously the state is annoyed, and a neighboring disco feels threatened by our existence.” Freeman went on to say, “The Seattle Police Department would like to eliminate us simply because we’re different.” The Seattle Police Department had participated in the raid by providing approximately 15 officers to back up the five officers of the Liquor Control Board.

Freeman suggested the possibility of a lawsuit against “all parties concerned,” and that the costs for legal defense have been enormous. He added that he has received no legal support from any organization.

Had he been convicted, Freeman faced up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

Note: This article is from the first raid on the Monastery. It’s noteworthy that Proposition 13 was started by SPD Sergeant and Police Guild Member Office Estes, who wanted to overturn housing and employment protections for queers, including outlawing gay teachers. Norm Maleng was the puppet master behind SPD and Sergeant Estes, pulling the strings in his vendetta against me.