Queer Places:
Pine Grove Cemetery Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA

Rev. Samuel Neal Kent (1873 - November 10, 1943), Episcopal minister, was entrapped in the 1919 Newport naval base in a homosexual scandal.

The naval base at Newport, Rhode Island, had become a center for such things as excessive drinking, prostitution, and drug dealing as well as homosexual activity. It was principally this last that disturbed a number of prominent local citizens. Franklin Roosevelt set up a secret investigating team, called "Section A - Office of the Assistant Secretary", to uncover and root out the licentious miscreants. He stipulated that there was to be no written communication regarding the case. Instead, his appointees were to report to him from time to time in person.

Since it is exceedingly difficult, in the nature of things, to obtain evidence of consensual sexual acts, the diligent inquisitors employed the default method in such cases-entrapment. Homosexuals were enticed by the use of "straight" sailors, some as young as 16, who allowed lewd acts to be performed upon them. When this became known, there was outrage in Newport.

In Washington, a naval commission, headed by an old friend of Roosevelt's, was formed to probe the question. One member of "Section A" testified that he had, indeed, reported the relevant facts to Roosevelt; the other member was excused from testifying on account of "illness". Franklin Roosvelt vehemently denied any knowledge of the immoral methods used by the secret team he had set up - in essence, his claim was that his attitude had been "don't ask, don't tell". In the end, the naval commission exonerated him, thus saving his career.


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