On February 12, a male suspect exposed himself indecently to two teenage girls in the Woodbridge locality. Irvine Police Department (IPD) suspects that the man is connected to similar crimes and has issued a citywide notice on its website with a sketch and additional details.
When asked about safety measures schools citywide intend to take in response, University High School (UHS) Student Resource Officer (SRO) Ms. Melissa Porter said, “The security will be increased around Woodbridge. There are detectives that are currently investigating the case.”
Security measures are expected to increase citywide, especially proximate to schools and public facilities. The UHS administration does not currently plan to increase current security staffing or other security measures. Mr. Michael Georgino (Admin.) said, “Student safety is our top priority. There will not be a new security measure due to our three security guards and SRO. Students, don’t walk home alone at night. Be aware and alert of your surroundings all the time.”
The suspect is accused for exposing himself indecently to a girl, who he stopped as she was crossing the street proximate to Woodbridge residential neighborhoods. Soon after, he allegedly harassed another girl, also walking home from school in the same area. According to the IPD, the suspect is a male with light skin, is 20 to 30 years old with short, dark brown hair and drives a 4-door sedan with tinted windows.
On December 20, 1996, a similar case occurred in which IPD arrested a man on the UHS campus for flashing two UHS students as they waited outside the Student Activities Center (SAC). After one of the students recognized the flasher, she immediately notified Mr. Michael Gerakos (Activities Director).
He said, “The student came running to my office and said, ‘The flasher is here!’ I could read into her panic. I immediately took off running. I saw the man and asked him to stop and explain why he was on campus. He said he had come to run on the track but his clothing didn’t show that. I chased him towards the 400s and held him down until the supervisors arrived. There were about five hundred students watching and this incident registered with the UHS community. The administration increased campus security, especially after school.”
Mr. Gerakos and the student who alerted him about the flasher testified together in court during the suspect’s trial. The man was not proven guilty for flashing students and instead was charged with of “trespassing and disruptive behavior.” He received a fee of $1000 and served a six-month imprisonment.
Mr. Gerakos said, “I am surprised the man got away. In court, he did not appear the way he did the day I confronted him. He was clean shaven and wore a suit. As an educator, I believe our job is to provide a safe environment for students and increase awareness of such situations. Irvine has outstanding schools, but things do happen. The administration’s role is to let parents know and open the dialogue between parents and students about the recent case. Teachers are proactive in asking visitors on campus for identification, and all district members wear badges for identification. We are taking measures to ensure student safety.”
Flashing is a crime punishable by law; If a person is found guilty of indecent exposure, he or she will have to do community service and pay a fine. If the person is found guilty of indecent exposure a second time, he or she will be registered as a sexual offender.
Written by AAKASH KAPOOR