Rodney Antonson went public last year with his effort to obtain a governor’s pardon. He was unsuccessful, but a judge has now dismissed the old indecent-exposure case against him.
Rodney Antonson, who pleaded guilty after a 1995 indecent-exposure arrest stemming from a police sting operation targeting men seeking sex with other men, has fallen short in his public quest to obtain a pardon.
But the 51-year-old Renton man, who told his story to The Seattle Times last year, has persuaded a judge to dismiss the case.
It is tantamount to a “pardon with less fanfare,” said Antonson’s Bellevue attorney, John Tymczyszyn.
Tymczyszyn, in last year’s story, called the arrest of Antonson in a Lynnwood park a “pretty clear case” of entrapment.
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He said the police report showed it was the male arresting officer, not Antonson, who initially suggested sex in the August 1995 encounter, during what police called an undercover emphasis patrol over two months that led to the arrests of 27 men.
When Antonson exposed himself, he was arrested.
Gay-rights advocates say similar stings have occurred across the country.
In the 2015 story, Antonson, who is gay, told The Times he was seeking a pardon from Gov. Jay Inslee. “It’s important for me to get this dealt with now,” he said then. “I’ve waited long enough.”
In a cover letter with his petition to the governor’s Clemency and Pardons Board, Tymczyszyn cited a “sense of urgency” because of his client’s health problems, which at the time included diabetes, AIDS and lymphoma in remission.
The board turned down the request in February after a preliminary review, without spelling out its reasons.
In a separate action, the original criminal case was dismissed Sept. 1, when Lynnwood Municipal Court Judge Stephen Moore granted a motion brought by Tymczyszyn.
As a result, a rapsheet issued by the Washington State Patrol no longer lists Antonson as being found guilty of indecent exposure. As of Tuesday, it listed the case as deferred and dismissed, with a 1996 date.
The change won’t help with the school activities Antonson has said he stayed away from when his now-grown daughter was in junior high — after he did a test background check of himself.
More recently, shortly before the State Patrol updated his status, his application to work as a volunteer at a homeless and emergency-services center was denied after a background check.
But the dismissal is a personal victory.
Antonson, who remains ill, issued these statements through Tymczyszyn:
“If we do not remember the past we are destined to commit the same mistakes in the future,” he said.
“There is an entire generation of young people that don’t even know why it is a big deal to be out of the closet and gay.”
Tymczyszyn said his client likely will try again for a pardon, which, if granted, could have implications for other men in Washington and elsewhere who were arrested in similar police-sting operations in the past.
“There is nothing preventing the Governor from reconsidering this matter and sending a statewide message,” he said in an email.
In a statement provided last week, Inslee’s office said, “While the governor is sympathetic to Rodney Antonson’s case, the governor’s authority to pardon is generally limited to cases with a standing felony conviction. In this case Mr. Antonson’s charge was dismissed so there’s nothing to pardon. His original charge was also a misdemeanor …”