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 Austin Police Department for more information.
The incident took place on Sept. 5 at 5:20 p.m., according to APD.
“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 tells KXAN that 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, we have been there for years, I feel like this is on the city.”
The mother says she loves the staff and 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.
When asked by KXAN if parents were informed about the incident, the city provided this statement:
The parents of the 3 remaining after-school program participants were notified when they picked up that an incident had occurred at the facility.
At the time of the incident, there were only 5 participants still awaiting pickup when staff decided to take the kids outside because the man, who was playing ping pong at the time, seemed questionable. There was no exposure to the participants at that time. When staff noticed the man had ripped pants, he was asked to pull them up but didn’t. Staff called 9-1-1 and other staff continued to move participants outside. At this time, a father arrived to pick up his two children. The dad and kids were inside getting their backpacks when the exposure occurred.City of Austin spokesperson
KXAN also asked if Rhodes was now banned from these facilities, and a city spokesperson said PARD is determining the status of a potential Criminal Trespass Notice. If one has not been issued, the department will file one if Rhodes returns to the property.
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.