New law allows commercial sponsorships at state parks, other public properties

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Metro Police Department is putting out extra patrols at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, after several young runners had encounters with a frightening man.

Three cross country teams in the area often practice at the park: South Oldham, duPont Manual and Assumption High Schools.

The coach at Manual sent a message to parents saying a man at the park chased some of the team's runners on Tuesday, July 31. The coach says no one was harmed, but police were alerted.

Barry Haworth, head coach of the girls cross country team for Assumption High School, sent out the following e-mail to parents of the girls on his team:

CC Girls and Parents:

Normally, we have no issues at the parks, but if something ever happens, then it's important to let everyone know. It's also a good time to reinforce our team guidelines with practice. 

Two area coaches mentioned that there was a creeper at EP Tom Sawyer this week. He's chased girls (he's not too fast, so they got away with ease - but still, he did chase them) and he's apparently done some lewd stuff. One coach also thinks that this person may have mental issues.

Here's a description from 2 different days where he was spotted:

• Hispanic male (short, stocky, purple shirt, red shorts, wearing an ace bandage around his knee

• Latino, around 5'5, wearing work boots, cargo pants, and a tan/green shirt

There's no guarantee that this person will reappear at Sawyer or even be confined to Sawyer. When we run, we want girls in groups, never alone. The coaches will make it a point to be particularly watchful this week. I'm typically out before practice in the areas where everyone runs, so I'll be looking for this person. If parents are out walking or running during practice, then please let us know if you notice anything unusual. The bottom line is that we will be watchful and careful, but we will not hide. Our job as coaches will be to ensure that the practice environment is as safe as possible, and we will do exactly that.

Barry

Cross country teams from several schools are warning their runners about the incident and are telling kids to run in groups, be vigilant and to tell adults when incidents happen.

Park-goers said they will now be extra cautious about their surroundings. 

"That weirds me out a little bit ... just knowing there are creeps out there like that. It’s kind of worrisome," said Sarah Mannix who walks her dogs through the park twice a week. "It’s a beautiful park. I would hate for something like this to ruin people’s enjoyment of this."

Manual is also planning a brief self defense day to be help students stay prepared.

Police say this is not connected to the Norton Commons attempted abductions, and that there are no new details in that case.

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