Man Arrested for Lewd Acts in Park

A man was arrested Sunday for allegedly touching himself while watching sunbathers at Idlewild Park

Ernest Bennett

RENO, Nev.-- Police say it was around three in the afternoon Sunday when 72-year-old Ernest Bennett started to watch sunbathers in Idlewild Park.

"He exposed himself and then started touching himself," said Detective Sergeant Marcia Lopez of the Reno Police Departments Sex Crimes Unit.

He was doing it blatantly and the sunbathers noticed.

"He jumped in his vehicle, they called the police and they were able to hold the subject until police arrived," said Lopez.

Bennett was previously arrested for indecent exposure, but since that was a misdemeanor he didn't need to register as a sex offender.

"I guess it is a little concerning but not totally surprising, we are in a city it is going to happen," said park goer Barrett Walker, who believes people like Bennett are all over and you just have to watch your back.

"If I feel like I am being watched or anything like that, I try to be aware of it, but I also try and keep moving. I would not come out here at night," said Walker.

"It would not pose an immediate threat, but maybe a little bit further down the line that person would get a little bit more aggressive with how they are interacting with people," said Caitlin Evans, who was at the park with Walker.

More aggressive behavior from people like Bennett is what authorities are worried about, and for that reason they issue this warning.

"People should not go in isolated areas without letting people know where you are at, you are always safer in group. As the weather gets warm, just kinda be aware of your surroundings," said Sgt. Lopez.

If Bennett is convicted of open and gross lewdness, its likely he'll have to register as a sex offender in the future. But that will ultimately be up to the courts.

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