Michael Luke / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- A local reverend who gained national attention by staging protests in the French Quarter against the three-day gay festival Southern Decadence was arrested Friday afternoon for obscenity.
Grant Storms, 53, of Metairie, was accused of allegedly masturbating in public.
A day after Storms' arrest became public knowledge, he held a press conference, often breaking down into tears and profusely apologizing to those that he hurt, both with the incident and in the past, as he tried to explain what he was doing in Lafreniere Park last Friday.
“I want to apologize deeply for my inappropriate, sinful actions,” Storms told on looking reporters and photographers. As he choked up, Storms asked for forgiveness.
He admitted that he was in the park in a work van, that he had his seat reclined with pants open and that he had his hand in his underwear, but he said he was not masturbating.
A woman, according to Storms, pulled up and saw him with his hands down his pants.
He did, however, admit that he was looking at pornography on-line about an hour before he went to the park. He added that he struggles with an addiction to porn, and he asked pastors to help deal with his demons.
Storms told members of the media he is no longer connected with the church that once staged the protests against Southern Decadence, now running a lawn care business.
Weeping, he then went on to apologize to family and friends. He even apologized to those that he once railed against, including members of the gay community and organizers of Decadence Festival. In 2003, Storms avowed to shut down the gay festival.
According to a police report, two women say they saw a man sitting inside a parked van in the park, next to a playground where children were playing. The women say the man had his zipper down and was masturbating.
Storms said he was taken aback by news that he had confessed to authorities that he had masturbated and exposed himself to children in the park, calling the allegation a "lie."
"At no time did any children see me," said Storms. "I'm not a pedophile, I'm not a child molester."
Often flanked by large signs which proclaimed Southern Decadence as depraved, Storms, a fundamentalist Christian preacher, gained notoriety for his firebrand protests of the event, especially videotaping what he decried as lurid behavior in the French Quarter during the festival.
“When I look back, there was a lot of things I would have done differently,” he said, recognizing the irony and hypocrisy of being accused of something similar of what he had accused many of during Southern Decadence.
“I was very proudful, I was very arrogant, I was very mean spirited at times and I apologize.”
The women notified a park employee, who detained Storms. Deputies arrested and booked him for obscenity.
According to the sheriff's report, Storms told deputies he was having lunch at the park and decided to urinate using a bottle instead of a restroom.
He was released from the Jefferson Parish jail due to overcrowding.