DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A former priest and a worker at a church were among several men arrested in connection to sex acts being performed on trails in two public parks, the Volusia County sheriff said Friday.
- Volusia Sheriff: Men were meeting for sex in 2 public parks
- Deputies installed still cameras; pictures caught about 75 people
- Deputies: Those arrested included ex-priest, local church worker
Deputies investigated Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve in Port Orange and Sleepy Hollow Park in New Smyrna Beach in southeast Volusia County after getting numerous complaints from families.
Undercover investigators said they couldn't even walk the trail at Spruce Creek Preserve without being solicited for sex.
In May, the Sheriff's Office placed still cameras at the parks, and deputies said they captured 50 to 75 or so people committing sexual acts.
On Friday, Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood showed off hundreds of pictures of men who they say were involved in sexual activity on the trails. The graphic pictures depict men meeting up to have sex and actually performing the sexual acts that investigators say was just 20 feet away from the parking lot in the parks.
In a statement, the Diocese of Orlando said the former priest's faculties to serve were removed by Bishop John Noonan in November 2011.
"You just do not have sex in an open area in an open space and group sex in a park that belongs to our community, and if you're going to engage in this activity, you can rest assured we're going to lock you up and plaster your picture all over the place," Chitwood said.
Those who were arrested have all been charged with indecent exposure.
Park visitor Ronnie Walton comes to Spruce Creek Preserve about five times a week to fish or kayak.
"I was told to always stay away from that (pointing to spot on map), because I heard bad things were happening there," Walton said. "... I think it's horrible. I didn't realize that was going on, but I hate the fact that poeple can't keep stuff at home if they want to do these things."
Chitwood said deputies will continue to go after people who commit these crimes.
Investigators said the cameras cost $90 a piece, and Chitwood would love to have cameras up inside every county park.