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Judge Stops Bucs’ Security Pat-Downs

October 27, 2005

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A judge on Thursday sided with a high school civics teacher who sued to stop security ``pat-downs″ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a lawsuit Oct. 13 on behalf of Bucs season ticket-holder Gordon Johnston. It sought to stop Raymond James Stadium officials from conducting the ``suspicionless″ searches that began last month after the NFL implemented enhanced security at stadiums throughout the league.

Circuit Judge Perry Little agreed with Johnston Thursday, issuing a temporary injunction stopping the searches until the lawsuit is resolved. The next Bucs home game is Nov. 6.

The NFL said in a statement it was ``disappointed″ by the decision, but hadn’t had a chance to review the court’s opinion.

``Pat-downs at other NFL stadiums should not be affected by this ruling,″ the statement said. ``We believe these limited screenings are reasonable and important to the protection of our fans.″

Johnston testified in a hearing last week that the searches violate his constitutional rights because they were ``invasive without necessity.″ Security would be more effective if staff spent more time watching ticket holders and less time touching them, he said.

``Why do I need to lose my rights to go to the game?″ he said. ``I’d say it’s humiliating. If I did that to my students, do you know what would happen to me?″

The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates the stadium, approved the pat-downs in September after the NFL asked all teams to conduct them.

The Tampa Sports Authority didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

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