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Hernando man jailed for lewd act

The Inverness Police Department has arrested a 22-year-old man on charges that he exposed himself to undercover officers who were jogging in Whispering Pines Park, officials and records showed. It was the fifth arrest this year that stemmed from illegal sexual activity at the park.

In the past weeks, several women called police with complaints that a man exposed himself and masturbated in front of them as they ran through the park's forest paths, Police Chief Massey Cook said.

So Monday afternoon, two women associated with the department donned jogging clothes and ran through the forest as part of a sting operation, Cook said.

The women, one an auxiliary officer, the other a member of a recruit class walked and ran along the paths while investigator Jack Armstrong waited in a parking lot of the Inverness Regional Shopping Center, the chief said.

A man approached the officers, pulled down his jogging shorts and masturbated, according to an arrest affidavit that Armstrong filed. Police have identified the suspect as J. W. Jowers of Hernando.

One of the officers had a portable radio, but it did not work, Cook said, so the officer ran after Jowers.

The officer chased Jowers across U.S. 41 past Hardee's restaurant, where the officer asked a bystander to call for emergency help, Cook said.

Armstrong and other backup units chased Jowers through a residential neighborhood and finally caught him on Cherry Street, the affidavit said.

Jowers resisted arrest and was uncooperative, Cook said. He was booked into the Citrus County Jail on charges of committing a lewd and lascivious act, obstructing a law officer and two counts of resisting arrest, the affidavit said.

Jowers remained in jail Tuesday night with bail set at $20,000.