Two dozen arrested for lewd acts in Polk County parks | News
POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Since the beginning of the year, the Polk County Sheriff's Office has arrested 24 men for lewd acts in public parks. Authorities say the men arrested have done everything from exposing themselves in the men's bathroom to dropping their pants on public trails.
Mug Shot Gallery: Booking photos of the suspects
"As I was standing at the doorway, he was masturbating at the urinal and turned to face me, exposing himself, and basically was nodding towards me requesting that I engage in some type of activity with him," an undercover detective told 10 News about one of the men arrested this month at Saddle Creek Park.
"Soon as I made eye contact with him, he approached and just stood right up to me, and was grabbing his groin area outside of his pants and rubbing his penis and, at that point, he just exposed his penis and asked if I'd be into performing oral sex on him," recalled a different undercover detective about another man arrested.
The seven men arrested at Saddle Creek Park this month include Lester Collier of Winter Haven; Joseph Huggins of Lakeland; Anthony Lopez of Winter Hazen; Julian Moore of Lakeland; Darryl Oglesby of Orlando; Frank Panis of Auburndale; and Jack Wallace of Lakeland.
Officials say Lopez asked a detective to participate in a sex act with him while at Saddle Creek Park. He was arrested and charged with battery and soliciting another to commit lewdness.
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and I have today been very unlucky. I'm not a bad person," Lopez insisted after being arrested.
Previous arrests include Matthew Clerk, who told detectives he was the senior pastor at a church in Bartow; Carl Kitchen, a retired state police officer from Canada; and Mark Skinner, a former volunteer on the Sheriff's Advisory Council.
The charges the men face are only misdemeanors, but Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd hopes an arrest and the shame associated with it is all that's needed to clean up the problem. Judd says people committing lewd acts just feet from where families fish and kids play cannot be tolerated.
"The bottom line is simple: you either stay out of the park and that lewd conduct or you're going to sit in the county jail," Judd said.