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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Police: Man exposes himself to to child at city rec center, mother concerned about sharing space with cooling centers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A mother is speaking out after she says a man exposed himself to her 6-year-old daughter at an Austin Recreation Center.

“My daughter was like ‘Dad I saw his thing,'” said the mother who wished to keep her identity anonymous.

KXAN reached out to the City of Austin’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, as well as Parks and Recreation Department and APD for more information.

The incident took place on September 5 at 5:20 p.m., according to the Austin Police Department.

“Parks and Recreation Department staff observed a man enter Hancock Recreation Center. Staff noticed the man’s shorts were lowered and his genitalia was exposed. Staff immediately escorted all program participants from the facility and called 9-1-1. Law enforcement arrived and removed the individual from the facility,” said a city of Austin spokesperson.

Austin Police Department officers arrested Drew Rhodes and booked him into the Travis County Jail. He is charged with Disorderly Conduct, Exposure and Failure to Identify.

Hancock Rec Center is also a cooling center which allows people to come in and seek shelter during hot summer days, but the mother says she worries about the kids and security at these facilities when these cooling centers are activated.

“I just feel like maybe the City and Homeland Security, who I think came up with this plan, didn’t really think this through,” said the mother. “I do trust the staff there, they have been there for years, I feel like this is on the city.”

The mother says she loves the staff, but feels like they should not have to deal with an added duty at their facilities, especially with children being on site.

The city tells KXAN that all scheduled youth programs are supervised by staff and scheduled in classrooms. They went on to say that the public does not have access to classroom areas with active youth programming.

KXAN wanted to know if parents were informed about the incident and if the man who was arrested is now banned from these facilities. We are still waiting for a response.

The mother we spoke to said if her daughter did not tell her about the incident she might not have known because she did not receive any information about the incident.

“If this was a school or any other childcare facility an email would have been immediately sent out to parents and said this happened, this is what we did about it, this is how we are going to prevent it, if you have any questions or need counseling here is where you go,” said the mother.

According to the City’s website, during the summer months, city facilities like Austin Public Library and Austin Parks and Recreation facilities are available as Cooling Centers. Community members and visitors can utilize these facilities during regular business hours as a temporary reprieve from the heat and take advantage of the air conditioning.

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