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Two charged with sexual acts at park

Sheriff's deputies arrested three men Tuesday at Hernando Beach Park during an undercover investigation into lewd and lascivious acts reported by park patrons.

Two of the men were arrested after a plain-clothes sheriff's deputy was solicited for sex acts in the park's restroom. The third suspect was arrested after one of the investigators recognized the man as someone who was wanted for violating probation.

Richard B. Vaden, 54, of 8816 E Skye Drive, Inverness, was charged with committing a lewd and lascivious act. Miles L. Blodgett, 68, of 2737 N Caterbury Lake Drive, Hernando, was arrested for exposure.

Benjamin Johnson, 22, of 938 NE 6th St., Crystal River, was charged with violation of probation and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and manufacture after officers found crack and powder cocaine in his possession.

Citrus County sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said investigators have been working the park for the past two months, prompted by citizens' complaints and concerns expressed by Parks and Recreation Department workers.

"There has been some very suggestive graffiti written on the walls of the bathroom advertising services with phone numbers to call," Tierney said.

Vaden, an inspector with Citrus County Mosquito Control, allegedly asked Sgt. Mike Joyner to perform oral sex on him in the men's restroom.

Blodgett, a retired utilities worker, allegedly walked into the men's restroom and fondled himself in front of Joyner.

Tierney said public sex activity has been a problem at several county parks. Investigators will continue to respond to those complaints when they are received, she said.

"It's something I know the sheriff feels strongly about," Tierney said. "The parks are public and they are meant for families and public enjoyment. People should feel comfortable there and not be threatened or exposed to activity that they may see as inappropriate or unwelcomed."

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