Undercover cops arrest 6 men for indecent exposure, solicitation at Sarasota beach

Joseph Fecik (top left), Stephen Gergatz (top center), Thomas Learmont (top left), William Campbell (bottom left), Richard Higgins (bottom center), and Randy Rivette (bottom left) were arrested for indecent exposure after a sting operation. (Photos courtesy of Sarasota Sheriff's Department)

CASPERSEN BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – A special two-day investigation into reports of “lewd behavior” has resulted in the arrests of six men, ranging in age from 52 to 80.

The sting took place last week at Casperson Beach after local residents complained of lewd behavior occurring around Venice Beach.  The beach is a favorite for people who enjoy hunting for shark’s teeth and watching the sunset.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office detectives told News Channel 8, the six men they arrested didn’t come to enjoy those surroundings.

Along the trails, picnic areas and beach, each are accused of exposing themselves, or asking for sex.

The detectives said the men exposed themselves or “solicited lewd behavior,” while interacting with an undercover detective.

“We need to be protected. We need to have some type of control and take it where its acceptable, not where its unacceptable,” said Michelle Piccione.

William Campbell, 62 of Venice, Joseph Fecik, 74 of North Port, Stephen Gergatz, 71 of Sarasota, Richard Higgins, 70 of Englewood, and Thomas Learmont, 80 of Michigan have all been charged with indecent exposure.

Campbell is accused of driving his Kia to the beach and chatting up an undercover deputy about sexual activity.

News Channel 8 found him at his apartment. Campbell would not come out.

“Mr. Campbell, we’re doing a story about your arrest. Can we talk to you?”

“I have nothing to say right now,” he answered.

Cops said Campbell tried to grab the undercover deputy’s private parts.

“Is that normal behavior on a public beach?”  Campbell did not reply.

He did say he’s meeting with an attorney.

Gergatz is accused of sitting in a hammock, nude.

Randy Rivette, 51 of New York, was charged with soliciting a prostitute.

Richard Higgins is accused of using only a beer can to cover himself, then letting the can come off.

Beach goers aren’t pleased.

“I think its awful. I think its awful. Wouldn’t stand for it,” said Bruce Hausther.

This law enforcement operation lasted two days, Tuesday and Friday of last week.

There’s a strong possibility cops will be back to do it again.

All six men were released on a $500 bond.

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