CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- A Punta Gorda man is facing indecent exposure charges after detectives say he exposed and touched himself at a Punta Gorda nature park that is frequented by men looking for sex.
69-year-old Richard Aaron was arrested Friday afternoon by undercover detectives in Flatwoods Environmental Park in Punta Gorda.
According to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, the detective was approached in the park by Aaron, and after a brief conversation, Aaron "exposed and manipulated his genitals in an indecent manner" in plain view of others.
The operation was in response to community complaints of illicit behavior in the park. "It's gross," said Gale Rakauskas, a nearby resident. "It's sad that person has to do that."
According to officials, this is not the first time this has happened in the area. "We've had other activities like this before as noted by other parks in the county," said Skip Conroy, Public Information Officer at the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.
After researching, Fox 4 discovered that the park is frequented by men looking for sex. With a simple Google search, the park was found listed as a hookup spot. One website gave the spot "4 stars," stating, "Park in the parking area. Most guys that are looking seem to back in so they can see who's coming down the road. You can either wait in the car and make eye contact with whoever is parked around you, or go down the trail to the picnic bench and see who comes.
The nature park, which contains trails, is commonly used by families. ""It's very upsetting, I have my grand children come up," said Loraine Swazey, another nearby resident.
Charlotte County Parks and Rec said they are aware of the issue, and that the situation can happen with any secluded area. However, they host community activities and work with police to keep these activities away. "It's not an ongoing issue," said Conroy. "However, once we receive complaints and even if we don't, we respond to actions like this."
Charlotte County Sheriff's Office urges anyone who sees suspicious activity at any public park to call the police and report it.