Cruisin' for a Bustin'

For Adams County deputies, making sex arrests was a walk in the park.

Last July 3 was a gorgeous day, about 85 degrees by early afternoon, and the 37-year-old park visitor was dressed for a spirited summer outing. He wore a hot-pink tank top over a woman's black, one-piece bathing suit filled out nicely by the pair of latex breasts strapped to his chest. Strutting his stuff beneath a blue sky on Independence Day weekend, the Boulder resident walked from car to car in the parking lot of Commerce City's Lafayette Park, greeting his fellow outdoor-recreation enthusiasts with a smile -- and with his penis and testicles, which squeezed out the side of his bathing suit, according to police reports.

One of those he approached was Commerce City resident Jesus Santovena, 34, who'd brought his family to the park for a picnic. Leaving his wife and kids at a nearby table, Santovena was getting a cooler from his car when the man walked up with Mister Happy saying howdy. Santovena got a good look, freaked and flagged down a uniformed Adams County sheriff's deputy in a marked car who just then happened to be passing by on a routine patrol.

The deputy pulled into the parking lot at the intersection of Highway 224 and Lafayette Street, and "Jesus stated he had just witnessed a man walk up to his car with his penis hanging out of his shorts," he later reported. Santovena pointed out the culprit, who was still walking car to car, "never staying for more than a few seconds." When the man spotted the deputy, he hopped into a black Ford Mustang. The deputy blocked the car in, then questioned him through the car's window just long enough to establish that he "showed signs of minor intoxication" and was, in fact, still hanging brain out the side of his suit.

The deputy placed him under arrest for indecent exposure and then took Santovena's statement. Santovena said he was "shocked" by the incident.

Adams County law-enforcement officials, by contrast, were less than stunned. They say that the Boulder visitor, with his latex breasts and hot-pink tank top, is just a particularly colorful representative of the droves of men from all over the Denver area, married and unmarried, who come to Adams County seeking illegal, anonymous sex in public parks, particularly Lafayette Park.

"We've been aware of this growing problem for about five years, and it just seemed like it got worse and worse every year," says Sergeant Louis Dixon, spokesman for the Adams County Sheriff's Office. "The cruising for sex got so heavy that we were receiving an increasing number of complaints from citizens who were in the park just to go for a walk and get some exercise, and they were approached and bothered by men who were there to obtain sexual favors, because these men assumed anyone who was in the parks was there for sex."

Deputies investigating citizen complaints last summer found side paths and small groves behind the main trail that were littered with used condoms, pornography, sex toys, soiled catheters and enema kits. They also observed men engaged in oral sex, mutual masturbation and what Dixon loosely terms "medical fetishes."

"Let's just say it was an unacceptable use of the park," he says. "We want our citizens to be able to use the parks freely and comfortably and safely, and not be worried about being approached by people looking for illegal sexual favors or having their kids be exposed to any of this illegal activity. We have a lot of kids using our trail systems, and we didn't want any children in danger of being taken advantage of, so we decided to confront the problem head-on."

Making busts was a walk in the park.

While working in an undercover capacity in Lafayette Park in plainclothes I was walking east on the trails west of the park. I observed two males walking west on the trail. The first person was a white male. The second was a Hispanic male. The two males were not walking together. The Hispanic male was about 25 feet behind the white male.

As I watched them walk west I noticed that the white male went down an embankment and when the Hispanic male reached the same location he also did the same. [My undercover partner] called me on my cell phone to check in and I asked him to come over to where I was. I waited a few seconds then went to see what the two men were doing.

When I reached the area where I thought they had gone down the embankment I looked down and noticed that the white male was facing southeast and was leaning against a tree. The Hispanic male was on his knees in front of the other, his face by his crotch. The white male looked up at me and motioned for me to come down and join them.

I walked down a dirt trail and walked up to them. I could see the Hispanic male had the white male's penis in his mouth. The white male again motioned for me to come closer. The Hispanic male took the white male's penis out of his mouth, looked at me, and then continued giving oral sex. I told the two males "The gig is up. That's enough."

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