WADSWORTH — A local man convicted of public indecency numerous times is in jail on a gross sexual imposition charge for allegedly touching an 11-year-old girl at Memorial Park.
A county grand jury indicted Kenneth Parker, 39, of 480 Bird St., on the third-degree felony count, which stems from an incident in the park off College Street about 8 p.m. July 9.
“Two female juveniles were approached by a male subject who was talking to them and soliciting information from them, and at one point the male touched her in a private area,” Police Chief Randy Reinke said Tuesday.
Parker reportedly did not attempt to restrain the girl or her friend, Reinke said.
The girls walked away and told an adult at the park about the incident, and police were called.
The victim “was shaken up, she was upset,” Reinke said.
The chief said Parker allegedly attempted to get information such as whether the girls had Facebook pages when he approached them.
Reinke said Wadsworth police have arrested Parker three times since 1998 on public indecency charges and once on a gross sexual imposition charge.
“We’ve arrested him before … and that’s just our department,” Reinke said. “Those were all misdemeanor cases.”
In 2004, Parker was convicted of first-degree misdemeanor public indecency and also of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor, in Wadsworth Municipal Court. He also was convicted of first-degree misdemeanor public indecency in 2001, according to court records.
Parker was convicted of public indecency, a second-degree misdemeanor, in Wadsworth in 1998. At the time, he was listed as living in Monroe Falls, records show.
Parker has been convicted of public indecency in several municipal courts since 1995, including Akron, Stow and Barberton in Summit County. In at least two of his sentences, he was prohibited from returning to local metro parks, where the incidents occurred, according to court records.
Reinke said the most recent charge is a felony because of the age of the victim. He encouraged parents to teach their children to be aware of their surroundings, and for residents to report any suspicious behavior at city parks.
“I think this incident in itself is not cause to be overly concerned with the safety of our parks,” he said. “Parents need to talk to their children and let them know when they are in the parks — or anywhere — they need to be aware of their surroundings and not talk to strangers.”
Parker is being held on $100,000 bond, a jail spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.