Man flashes female police officer
April 19, 2010 8:11 AM
A man who may have flashed a number of women near campus got a surprise of his own April 12, when a woman he exposed himself to turned out to be a San Francisco Police Department officer.
Sergeant Russell Gordon said a plainclothes officer was investigating auto burglaries near campus around 9:08 p.m. when she noticed a man walking behind a group of women.
"It seemed very suspicious because when the women would turn around the man would just scuttle away," Gordon said.
When the female officer neared the man at the corner of Fuente Avenue and Serrano Drive, he allegedly pulled out his penis and started masturbating, much like what has been described in a handful of incidents reported in the area last month.
The suspect, whose name and age Gordon would not release, "was dutifully and quickly placed under arrest" and taken to San Francisco County Jail where he was charged with indecent exposure and possession of a felonious weapon. Gordon declined to give details on the weapon, but said police are investigating whether the man is responsible for other indecent exposures.
Since March 2, six people -four of whom were confirmed to be female and two with female-sounding names on which officials did not specify- have reported being flashed by an unidentified male in the neighborhood just south of campus. Concentrated between Lake Merced Boulevard and 19th Avenue, the area comprises townhouses and apartments, including University Park South, which houses faculty, staff and students.
In each of the reported cases, a suspect pulled out his penis in front of an individual and, in all but one instance, started masturbating. Three victims gave matching descriptions of their flasher: a white man in his twenties wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. A fourth victim provided a similar description but said the perpetrator may have had olive-colored skin.
Because police did not immediately identify the man arrested April 12, it is not clear if he matches earlier descriptions.
A 2007 report titled "Exhibitionism: Findings From a Midwestern Police Contact Sample," cited research that suggests most exhibitionists, individuals who expose themselves in public, are likely to be repeat offenders. Of the 106 exhibitionists studied for the report, 101 were men averaging 35.5 years old. The report also quoted estimates suggesting that, due to underreporting, indecent exposure may occur 150 times more than police reports reveal.
Communication studies major Ami Dhaliwal, 19, said she was flashed March 22 at the corner of Varela Avenue and Crespi Drive. Dhaliwal, who lives in Park Merced, said she was walking with friends around 10:30 p.m. when she slowed down to dig for a set of keys in her bag. Earlier, she had noticed a man walking nearby, and when she looked up she found she had fallen behind the group and the same man was standing about 4 feet away with his penis exposed.
"I was like 'Oh my God' and I just kept on walking," she said. "I didn't want to make a big commotion because I was walking with my guy friends and I knew if I said something they would just beat his ass or something. It all happened within a minute."
In shock, Dhaliwal hurried away from the man and quickly caught up with her friends.
"I think if I wasn't so shocked I probably would have called that person out," she said. "I'm 6 feet tall -I'm definitely bigger than the guy who flashed me. But I was tired and wanted to go home."
It wasn't until April 7, during a student protest at the Administration building, that she decided to file a report with the Department of Public Safety. During the protest, a female officer got wind of Dhaliwal's situation and encouraged her to come forward. It was the officer's genuine concern, Dhaliwal said, that compelled her to report the incident.
"The only reason why I didn't file a police report (sooner) is because I really didn't expect the police to do anything about it," she said. "Yeah, they might be able to catch him and put the charges against him, but they can't keep someone else from flashing."
Dhaliwal expressed concern about the level of police presence near campus in the evenings. She said she sees plenty of cars patrolling Park Merced and surrounding areas in the day but significantly fewer officers as the sun goes down.
"I think it should be the other way around," she said. "I think we're pretty capable of taking care of ourselves during the day, but I think they should increase their efforts during the night."
Deputy Chief of police Reggie Parson of the University police department said patrol is not decreased at night and that as of the time Dhaliwal's report was filed, police presence had actually been increased in the area in response to recent events.
Regardless of real or perceived dangers, Dhaliwal said the nighttime encounter has made her wary of traveling alone and on certain streets. When a visit to a friend's house runs late, she now opts to spend the night rather than take the bus home alone.
"I think that when stuff like this happens, women need to tell others and not just keep it to themselves. They need to tell their friends what's up," she said. "If it really bothered them they definitely need to report it, because yeah, the police might not be able to stop everyone from doing that -but they might be able to catch that one person."
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