AUBURN – A dozen men have been arrested in recent weeks as a result of a police sting targeting men who frequent the Whitman Spring Road area for sex.
Starting in late August, undercover police officers began going to the wooded end of Whitman Spring and surrounding areas known for sexual activity. They had been advised that men were approaching strangers there and making offers of a sexual nature.
According to Deputy Chief Jason Moen, it didn’t take long for his officers to witness the activity.
“They were approached by men and conversations ensued,” Moen said. “The next thing you know, some type of indecent activity was being proposed."
Most of the 12 were arrested on Whitman Spring, a discontinued dirt road used mainly by people who walk, jog, fish or bike. Others were nabbed at the causeway rest area, next to Lake Auburn along Route 4.
Most arrests occurred in the middle of the afternoon.
For those who live nearby, the police sting was welcomed. Some said that spots meant to be used for recreation were being used by men for sexual purposes.
It’s been a particular problem for residents who bring their kids out to ride bikes or fish.
“It just turned into a real nasty area,” said Roger Cyr of Auburn. “You go down to the water and try to fish and you don’t know what you’re going to find there.”
Cyr said he has stumbled across men having sex in the woods. He has found condoms strewn across the ground. And like others, he frequently sees men parked along Whitman Spring Road, their intentions unclear.
“People walk their dogs and you see a lot of runners down there,” Cyr said.
Eleven of the men arrested are from Auburn or nearby towns. One is from Vermont. Most were charged with indecent conduct while others were arrested for unlawful sexual touching or assault.
Those charges typically result, in a police sting, from a suspect touching an officer in an unwelcome manner.
According to Moen, the undercover operation was put into motion after the department received complaints from people who witnessed sexual activity in the area or who were menaced by strangers seeking it.
“There were numerous complaints,” Moen said. “It’s been an issue for years and it continues to be a problem.”
The undercover operations will continue, he said. That, too, was given a thumbs-up by people who hope it will one day be safe to return to the area.
“It’s about time,” Cyr said. “This should be the kind of place where it feels safe to take your kid fishing or go for a walk.”
Arrested in the operation:
Brett Johnson, 46, of Sabattus, on a charge of indecent conduct, Aug. 27 on Whitman Spring Road.
Glenn King, 59, of Auburn, on a charge of assault, Aug. 27 on Whitman Spring Road.
Daryl Simard, 61, of Rumford, on a charge of indecent conduct, Aug. 27 on Whitman Spring Road.
Gerard Bilodeau, 51, of Wales, on a charge of indecent conduct, Aug. 27 on Whitman Spring Road.
Douglas Knight, 67, of Lewiston, on a charge of indecent conduct, Sept. 1 on Whitman Spring Road.
Lewis Young, 69, of West Charleston, Vt., on a charge of unlawful sexual touching, Aug 30, at the causeway rest area.
Richard Doucette, 74, of Auburn, on a charge of unlawful sexual touching, Sept. 1 on Whitman Spring Road.
John Tracy, 66, of Pittsfield, on a charge of indecent conduct, Aug. 11 at the Route 4 causeway rest area.
Joshua Gaudette, 31, of Carthage, on a charge of indecent conduct, Aug. 11 at the Route 4 causeway rest area.
Kerry Eldridge, 52, of Auburn, on a charge of unlawful sexual touching, Sept. 1 on Whitman Spring Road.
Leland Bachelder, 51, of Turner, on a charge of unlawful sexual touching, Sept. 9 on Whitman Spring Road.
John Tetreault, 43, of Auburn, on a charge of unlawful sexual touching, Sept. 9 on Whitman Spring Road.