Monday, November 20, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Sin-tral Park
It's about as far as you can get from play days and picnics -- a South Florida park that has become "Sin-tral Park." In tonight's special assignment report, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero shows us how behavior there clearly violates the law. It's a story, we warn you, that contains graphic images and adult subject matter.
WSVN -- This is the kind of scene families and children visiting Colhatchee Park in Wilton Manors could come across every day the park is open.
Two men -- rubbing and hugging and much more that we can't show you -- all out in the open.
Nick Boyko: "The activities that have been going on there is an inappropriate use and has no place in it."
Nick Boyko has lived in Wilton Manors for nearly 12 years.
Like many others, he is reluctant to bring his nephews to the park because of the public sex going on along the boardwalk.
Nick Boyko: "And it's unfortunate that people are avoiding the park now because of it."
And this isn't something that's going on every once in a while.
7 News documented the activity here over a period of several days.
In that time, we saw an astonishing number of men cruising the park, displaying some very bizarre behavior that again, we simply can't show you.
Experts say this kind of activity is all about thrills.
Dr. Lori Butts: "The more risky the behavior, the more thrill seeking it is and the more exciting the experience is for the person."
The cruisers might call it exciting, but law enforcement calls it illegal -- and arrests have been made here for lewd and lascivious behavior.
There's even a sign at the entrance warning the area may be under video surveillance, but it hasn't stopped the activity.
Chief Richard Perez: "We've found excrement all over the park. On the boardwalk, we've found semen on the park. We've found condoms laying around."
Police Chief Richard Perez says the sexual activity here has also become a health issue.
For example, this man repeatedly wiped his hand on the railing after inserting something in his rectum.
Chief Richard Perez: "Kids walking around are going to do the natural thing: is to walk with your hands on the boardwalk. You want to look into the wildlife -- you put your hands on things, and this can become a health hazard as well."
From what we saw, this does appear to be a mostly male-only activity.
Of the men we observed, several visited the park day after day -- others cruised here several times in the same day.
But the police chief is clear -- this issue isn't about sexual orientation.
Chief Richard Perez: "I don't think it's a gay issue or a heterosexual issue -- it's a quality of life issue."
And the postal service is taking issue with this.
Two postal workers who took a break at the park at about 3:30 one afternoon -- they didn't have sex, but, after about a half-hour inside, they continued to "visit" in the back of one of their vans.
In all, the couple spent about 45 minutes here and could be in a heap of trouble with their superiors.
After we asked questions, the postal service began an investigation, and, while we have no official comment, a source tells me the pair could be in trouble for deviating from their routes or delaying mail delivery.
Carmel Cafiero: "And cruisers at the park could also be in a heap of trouble. The police department has an action plan aimed at making Colohatchee family-friendly. The chief says he doesn't want to give details -- but says information on who is doing what here is being compiled."
Chief Richard Perez: "It's wrong and it's not going to be tolerated. It's not something that our citizens expect or want."
Clearly, the message hasn't had much impact -- yet.
But sexual encounters at this "Sin-tral Park" could soon result in more arrests in an effort police call "operation get a room."