NEWSCHANNEL 5 Investigation: Sex in the Park

MCALLEN – NEWSCHANNEL 5 continues a year-long investigation into men cruising for sex at city parks.

MCALLEN – One McAllen park is getting attention for being a sexual playground, authorities say.

Ongoing suspicious activity sparked a NEWSCHANNEL 5 investigation that found some unusual behavior.

NEWSCHANNEL 5’s own undercover cameraman was propositioned by a stranger. The cameraman’s identity was concealed.

“You know, the conversation started as any other one,” he said, “and then it just went to ‘can I go over to your house.’ And I just met this guy and I told him, ‘I just met you and you want to come to my house? What is that?”

Frequently, our cameras caught men walking in and out of the restrooms while families and children played nearby.

“I think they need to have respect for other people. I don’t have children but I don’t like the idea of any children walking in on those activities,” said park visitor Juan Carlos Lopez in Spanish.

McAllen Parks Director Larry Pressler was also concerned with inappropriate activity going on at the park.

After viewing NEWSCHANNEL 5’s video surveillance of the park, he admitted the behavior was strange.

“Is that guy coming out of there getting dressed?” Pressler asked as he watched the stakeout.

“They’re looking for other men to pick up,” Pressler said, “or to talk with to have social interaction or some sort of interaction.”

As long ago as a year and a half, men were discovered hanging out at both McAllen’s nature center as well as the West Side Park right next to it.

After reports surfaced about the park’s activities, police began a series of sting operations, ending in a number of arrests.

At one point, the nature center was shut down so workers could clean out some of the brush they said men sometimes used as cover for having sex.

Park supervisor Clark Curry was among those arrested for public lewdness at the park. He was fired and eventually struck a deal with the court in exchange for a guilty plea.

But activity continues at the park, and authorities are unsure how to handle it.

“It’s not something the public or a public entity like the city of McAllen can take care of with one broad stroke,” Pressler said.

In the past year, police arrested 11 people at the parks for drug-related crimes and offenses like public intoxication.

Right now, officials are trying to come up with a plan to combat the sexual activity going on at the park.

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