A transgender and HIV activist in New York City was recently arrested after a sting operation conducted by a nonprofit indicated that he may have solicited sex from a person he thought was a minor.
On the morning of October 20, Lailani Muniz, a 39-year-old trans activist living in the Bronx, arrived on a street corner expecting to meet “Josh,” a person Muniz reportedly believed to be a 14-year-old boy. However, “Josh” does not exist. Instead, Fred Medina, an adult member of the nonprofit organization NY Creeps Spotlight, created an account on Grindr, posing as 14-year-old “Josh.”
Muniz and “Josh” first began corresponding on Grindr back in March, and reports indicate that Muniz quickly began making sexual references to “Josh,” even after Muniz allegedly acknowledged that “Josh” was underage.
“I can’t front, I am nervous,” Muniz supposedly wrote to “Josh.” “I watch too much TV [because] I know you’re young, it reminds me of that show To Catch a Predator where they set people up attracted to minors.”
According to allegations, Muniz arranged to meet up with “Josh” and asked him to bring a condom. Reports based on screenshots of their alleged Grindr conversation suggest that Muniz had specifically requested that “Josh” perform sexual favors on him.
When Muniz arrived at the designated location to meet “Josh,” he instead encountered Medina, who informed Muniz that he had posed as “Josh” and began accusing Muniz of attempting to solicit a person he thought was underage.
Medina filmed his entire interaction with Muniz and posted it to YouTube. At around the 13:12 mark, Medina can be seen showing cops what appeared to be his Grindr conversation with Muniz. Police then arrest Muniz around 14:57.
Muniz has been charged with attempted sexual abuse, misconduct, and endangerment of minor. He has since been released from jail and is expected to appear in court on Dec. 2.
Muniz, who is HIV positive, is a high-profile figure in the NYC trans and HIV activism scene. He is a member of the HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York; a spokesperson for Amida Care, an HIV/AIDS nonprofit; a participant with the “HIV Stops With Me” campaign; the chief operations officer for the New York Transgender Bodybuilding Federation; a trauma informed care specialist at Damian Family Care Center, a health care and dental nonprofit; and a volunteer for CK Life, which provides “gender-affirming” surgery; and Princess Janae Place & Destination Tomorrow, resources for homeless LGBTQ people. Last year, Muniz was also featured in EDGE Network, an LGBTQ magazine, and a VICE documentary on HIV/AIDS.
Earlier this year, Muniz also received a certificate of merit from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson at a pride flag raising event at the Bronx courthouse.