Monday, February 26, 2007
Carmel on the Case: Sintral Parks
Problems with sex in public parks continue to be a concern for residents and law enforcement here in South Florida. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero first exposed problems in Broward. Now she's got more with what's happening in Miami-Dade. It's all in her special assignment report, Sintral Parks.
WSVN -- Samuel Nedwadoqitz: "Please don't do this to me. Please, I'm begging you."
Fifty-two-year-old Samuel Nedwadoqitz was a wreck after his arrest.
The Miami Beach resident was charged with exposure of sexual organs after a police officer in Greynolds Park East reported Nedwadoqitz exposed himself.
Carmel Cafiero: "Samuel, why did you do this today?"
Samuel Nedwadoqitz: "I really don't know. I don't know."
Carmel Cafiero: "Have you been here in the park before for public sex?"
Samuel Nedwadoqitz: "No, not really -- my Mother's going to die."
This North Miami Beach park is one of several in South Florida with a reputation as a place men can meet for sex.
Miami-Dade Officer: "Where you live, man?"
Stewart Shapiro: "Hollywood."
Miami-Dade Officer: "Yeah, you got a wedding ring on. Are you married?"
Stewart Shapiro: "Yes, I am."
Forty-three-year-old Stewart Shapiro claimed he was in the park to enjoy the hardwood hammock.
But his arrest form indicates he was arrested after he "masturbated" in front of an undercover Miami-Dade detective.
Stewart Shapiro: "I'm not sure what it's all about, but I'd never come back here, no matter what."
Lee Keith is a tourist from Massachusetts.
Once inside the woods the 65-year-old grabbed an undercover detective's "genital area and squeezed with force," according to his arrest affidavit.
Carmel Cafiero: "You're a retired teacher, is that correct? And you're out here? Is this appropriate behavior?"
Lee Keith: "Enough said."
So why would a person chance arrest, not to mention the public embarrassment of such charges?
Experts say risk is a part of the attraction.
Dr. William Samek: "It adds to the thrill and the sexual excitement and the general tension."
Dr. William Semek is a psychologist.
He says parks and public restrooms attract men looking for quick, anonymous sex -- but these places offer something else too.
Dr. William Samek: "A park is generally seen as a non-sexual place, so a man can walk around in a park, find another man to hook up with and yet kind of deny that he is really there for that reason."
But, no matter what the reason, when word spreads about a "hot spot" there can be so much cruising going on that families and even adults stay away.
Complaints about what was going on in Greynolds Park prompted this sting by Miami-Dade's Intracoastal District.
Lt. Paul Angelo: "Citizens call up and tell us they've seen exactly what we've seen today, and they'll say, 'Hey, look, we don't want our children to see this.'"
Forty-six-year-old Oscar Diaz is from Miami Beach.
Carmel Cafiero: "What's the attraction?"
Oscar Diaz: "I don't know."
Carmel Cafiero: "Pretty risky behavior isn't it?"
Sixty-one-year-old Paul Bergamasco is from Aventura.
He told me he came to the park after dropping his mom off to have her hair done.
Miami-Dade Officer: "Have you ever been arrested before, sir?"
Paul Bergamasco: "No."
Once arrested, he was worried about how she would get home.
Paul Bergamasco: "I've got to, I've got to pick her up."
The arresting officer reports Bergamasco masturbated.
Richard Krebs: "I was just hanging out in the park."
Carmel Cafiero: "And then what?"
Richard Krebs: "I got arrested."
Colohatchee Park in Broward County has had the same problem.
Late last year, a Seven News investigation documented an astonishing number of men cruising the park.
Nick Boyko: "And it's unfortunate that people are avoiding the park now because of it."
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."
Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard Perez promised a crack down.
And an undercover sting resulted in several arrests.
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you come to this park for sexual encounters?"
Richard Krebs: "Oh, no, of course not. I come here just to hang out."
Yet, he later plead no contest to a charge of exposing himself.
While the charges are misdemeanors, they can have serious consequences.
Take the case of 49-year-old Alan Breck, who was charged with battery after an undercover officer reported, "Breck grabbed my penis through my shorts."
Alan Breck: "I am very concerned. I would never do this again, and I didn't mean to do this in the first place. I never had this happen to me in my whole life."
Judge Louis Schiff: "Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you will give is true?"
Alan Breck: "Yes."
Breck entered a plea of no contest before Judge Louis Schiff who ordered him to pay court costs and do community service.
Judge Louis Schiff: "It's going to go down as a conviction -- you understand that -- a criminal conviction."
Alan Breck: "Yes."
Breck was also forbidden from ever going back to Colohatchee Park.
Carmel Cafiero: There is some good news in all of this. A follow-up sting here at Colohatchee resulted in zero arrests. But, cruisers beware -- authorities in both Broward and Miami-Dade say they intend to take the sin out of 'Sintral Parks.'"