crime

Gainesville Police arrested a man accused of masturbating in Tom Petty Park Friday afternoon.

William Stewart, 51, of 1909 NE Eighth St., was charged with indecent exposure and sent to Alachua County Jail, according to a GPD arrest report. 

Gainesville residents Chemerea Godbolt and Patricia Green saw Stewart masturbating with his pants halfway down his legs at 1 p.m., according to the police report. Godbolt took photos of the incident. 

According to the police report, Officer Michael Merhar responded and saw Stewart masturbating in a pavilion while several people were exercising. Stewart was fully exposed and facing NE 13th Avenue, where the parking area is located. 

As the officer approached him, Stewart pulled up his pants, tucked in his shirt, sat down and lit a cigarette. When asked why he was masturbating in the park, he said he didn’t know, and “it was just something [he] did.”

Stewart remained in the Alachua County Jail Friday with a $2,500 bond. 

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