Two arrested in park sting

October 3, 2018

KANKAKEE — The state charged two people with exposing themselves last month at Kankakee River State Park, one of a number of stings there throughout the years.

In response to Daily Journal questions, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said it has received a number of complaints from visitors at the park about people exposing themselves.

On Sept. 20, the department’s conservation police and the state police set up a “joint detail” to catch violators, spokesman Tim Schweizer said in an email. Both people were charged with public indecency; one of them also faces a battery charge.

The agencies “will continue to respond, conduct patrols and take action where warranted to protect families and other visitors to the park from violators involved in inappropriate conduct,” Schweizer said.

Schweizer didn’t answer further requests about the operation.

In April 2012, state police said they arrested seven men, ranging in age from 46 to 82, for public indecency and battery “of an insulting nature” at the state park. At the time, state police said the arrests were in response to complaints from the public.

The men were from Kankakee, Bourbonnais and Braidwood, police said.

The battery charge indicated the men made “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.”

In October 2002, the Daily Journal ran a story about a sting at the park, headlined, “Homosexual bust at state park.”

According to the state police then, three area men, ranging in age from 58 to 73, were arrested for trying to solicit “homosexual favors” from undercover agents at the park.

“State police and conservation police are committed to maintaining a family environment in the park,” an official said at the time. “We plan to conduct additional details in the future and increase patrols as necessary.”

The north parking area, state police said then, had been the source of many complaints ranging from lewd remarks to indecent exposure and sex acts. The police sting was labeled “Operation Safe Park.”

In 2002, a person wrote about the Daily Journal story on a comment board, calling the police sting and the story “bigoted.”

“I myself have cruised the area with gay friends before, while they were looking to meet people,” the person said. “It’s one of the few places around town where gays are known to congregate ... and, yeah, sometimes people have sex out there.”

The commenter suggested some gays are getting arrested for simply “hitting on” people, adding that straight people also have sex at the park.

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