Police seek witness who reported lewd act at middle school

Chief urges citizens to bring complaints to police
By Tanya Mitchell | Sep 04, 2012
Source: File image

Belfast — Police have identified a man who was reportedly touching himself inappropriately in a vehicle behind Troy Howard Middle School Wednesday, Aug. 29, but they need to speak to the woman who witnessed the alleged act in order to charge the man.

Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden said an unknown woman was walking on the trails near Troy Howard Middle School at about 2 p.m. Wednesday and noticed a vehicle that was parked in the area of the athletic fields. After further investigation, McFadden said, the woman was able to see a man in the vehicle who was performing a lewd act on himself.

"There was a male inside the vehicle performing a sex act on himself," said McFadden. "Unfortunately, the woman contacted the school district instead of calling the police."

McFadden stressed that while the woman did nothing wrong, police need more information from her for the purposes of the criminal investigation because she is the lone witness to the alleged incident.

"We'd like her to call 338-2420 and speak with us about this," said McFadden. "... It is critical to our job to be able to identify this person."

McFadden said the woman returned to her home and told a school employee what she had witnessed while walking at the school minutes before. The employee, in turn, contacted police, but McFadden said the school staff member did not obtain the woman's contact information before hanging up and calling police.

Police believe the woman lives near the school, but had been unable to locate her as of Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 4.

"We get calls like this from time to time, and usually we can identify the person who makes the complaint, but it's fairly difficult to identify the culprit," said McFadden. "In this case, because of video surveillance, we were able to quickly identify the culprit, but we don't know the witness' name."

McFadden also wanted the public to know that while they have yet to locate the witness to the incident, officers have since located the man who was the subject of the complaint.

"We know who he is and we have spoken to him," said the chief.

McFadden advised anyone who witnesses a similar incident to call police immediately, and to be prepared to leave a name and contact information with the dispatcher.

"This is a police matter," said McFadden. "It is very appropriate to call 911."

This incident was particularly disturbing, McFadden said, because it occurred about 20 minutes before students would have arrived at the fields for athletic activities.

"There is zero tolerance for that," said McFadden of the incident. "We're obviously always looking to charge someone criminally for something like this."

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