BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Police are looking for the suspect or suspects in several recent indecent exposure reports.
Young girls riding their bicycles have been followed by the man who then made lewd comments and exposed himself while masturbating.
Most recently three girls were riding on their bikes near Bay Middle School when the man pulled up next to them.
The girls said he was scruffy looking with dark hair and driving a black four-door car.
“I was scared… very scared,” said one of the girls who asked to be identified only as “Isabella.”
She said, “We turned and saw him and he was showing some inappropriate body parts.”
Isabella’s mom, Krista Viola, called Bay Village Police.
The man’s description, according to the girls, seemed to match a similar report from August where a man followed another middle school student who was riding her bicycle.
She asked to be called “Nicole” and said, “This guy pulled up to the stop sign and was exposing himself and said disturbing stuff to me. I was kind of freaked out.”
Nicole said the man continued to follow her along several streets. At one point it seemed as if he had left but then he reappeared.
Nicole pedaled as fast as she could and made it home. Her mom called and reported the incident to police. Nicole also described the man as driving a black four-door car, with black hair and a scruffy, messy appearance.
Bay Village Police Detective Jay Elish said they do not know if the cases are connected but they have had other reports over the summer and a couple more over the past two weeks.
He said it’s very common this time of year when the weather is nice and children are outside walking and on the bikes.
He said, “These incidents are common all over the place. This is not specific to Bay Village. It happens in every community.”
Recently a man tried to lure two children in Lorain using candy but the cases do not appear to be related.
Det. Elish said both boys and girls can be targeted, ranging in age from middle school students to high school students, but the perpetrator is usually male.
He advises children to be aware of their surroundings at all times and if something feels wrong, trust their instincts and get away from the area immediately.
“First and foremost get out of the area, but if you can get a license plate number and description of the driver and the type of car, do that by all means,” said Det. Elish. “And if you have a cellphone, take a picture of the car as it’s driving away.”
Neither of the girls Fox 8 News reporter Suzanne Stratford spoke with were able to get a license plate number. Nicole says she was so scared she panicked.
“I was freaking out and crying,” said Nicole, “I was so scared.”
She encourages other children to try to stay calm.
Police say in these types of cases the suspect can be mentally unstable and definitely have a problem but they don’t usually attempt to grab the child, but they should still be considered extremely dangerous and capable of anything.
Krista Viola is grateful her daughter is okay but she is also saddened that she had to experience this at such a young age.
“Kind of makes you sick,” said Krista. “As a mom I’m disappointed that it happened at such a young age to my daughter and as a female I think you do have to be aware that this does happen all the time and it doesn’t matter what community you live in you just have to be on high alert and always prepared that this could happen.”
If anyone has information about the man driving the black car they are asked to call Bay Village police.