Was IMPD Ordered Not To Investigate Phil Hinkle?

It's now been a week since the Indianapolis Star published a front-page expose' linking State Rep. Phil Hinkle to a sex for money scandal involving an 18-year-old gay hustler he met on Craigslist and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has not launched an investigation of the allegations laid out in lurid detail in the state's largest newspaper. While the 18-year-old, Kameryn Gibson, furnished the Star with a chain of e-mail communications, corroborating testimony from his sister and cell phone records to prove his meet-up at a hotel room in the JW Marriott, the 64-year-old Hinkle has refused to speak publicly about the allegations other than to insist he was the victim of a shakedown by Gibson and his sister.

If the facts laid out by Gibson are true, they form the basis for several criminal charges, including solicitation, criminal confinement and obstruction of justice. Indeed, Gibson implicated himself in a crime by publicly admitting he initially agreed to let Hinkle serve as his "sugga daddy" for the night in consideration for a cash payment of $80, plus a "healthy tip" for "services rendered." Gibson claims Hinkle first tried to stop him from leaving the hotel room when he got cold feet and then later offered him gifts and money to remain quiet about the encounter. Gibson claimed he slipped into the bathroom and called his sister to come to the hotel room to get him when Hinkle refused to let him leave. As this blog has exclusively reported, numerous witnesses have confirmed Hinkle was attending a wedding reception at the JW Marriott on the night in question sans wife for the daughter of a powerful Indiana lobbyist, Pat Kiely, the head of the Indiana Manufacturers Association. Witnesses say the guest list was a Who's Who of Indiana Republicans, including Gov. Mitch Daniels. One witness says Hinkle was observed spending a lot of time on his cell phone and wandering in and out of the reception.

The fact that IMPD has not launched an investigation given the overwhelming evidence that a crime may have been committed is hard to overlook, particularly given the fact that IMPD was boasting to Indianapolis media only a week prior to Hinkle's rendezvous with the 18-year-old hustler of their undercover sting operations to combat prostitution taking place downtown in anticipation of next February's Super Bowl game, an event renowned for attracting a large number of prostitutes. IMPD told the Star it was using a city ordinance requiring escorts to obtain a license from the city as a means of levying stiff civil penalties against persons engaged in prostitution. The Indianapolis Star carried a gallery of images as an undercover cop first solicited and then later busted a prostitute at a hotel room near Lucas Oil Stadium just blocks from the JW Marriott. And lest we forget that this is the same police department that has cops working undercover to lure men to engage in sex acts in public bathrooms and the showers at local health clubs and makes their arrests a big public production.

The word on the street is that IMPD is not investigating the incidence as a crime by request from higher ups; instead, party leaders are being given time to convince Hinkle to quietly resign his seat and just allow the incident to fade away. Police could have easily obtained video surveillance footage from the JW Marriott that would have confirmed the comings and goings of Hinkle, Gibson and others on the night in question, as well as records confirming whether Hinkle had rented a hotel room. Some observers believe that it is going to take more than a small push, however, to convince Hinkle to resign. To ease his way into retirement, Hinkle apparently wants to hold on to the seat at least through the end of his term when he will be 65 and be able to draw both social security and a larger legislative pension for twelve years of service in the General Assembly. Hinkle's fellow lawmakers were stunned to see him show up at a legislative study committee hearing shortly after the story broke and act as if nothing had happened.

One local reporter told me that he believed Hinkle had "dodged a bullet" because of the intervening stage collapse tragedy at the Indiana State Fair that pushed his story completely off the radar while reporters rushed to get the latest news on the air and in print. Nonetheless, it seems the media needs to be asking Mayor Greg Ballard and IMPD why the City is not investigating the very crime it boasted to area news media that it took seriously and was taking steps to combat in the lead-up to the Super Bowl activities; otherwise, we can only assume what so many of us already suspect: the rule of law doesn't apply to the privileged elite.