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Official charged in restroom sting quits

A Pinellas-Pasco assistant state attorney was one of nine men charged with exposing themselves in a Largo undercover police investigation of public park restrooms last month, officials said Friday.

Fred Andrew Taylor, 36, resigned from the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office on Nov. 15, a day after he was charged, said Kendall Davidson, county court division director. He had been with the office for about a year.

"Prior to the incident he had been a very professional and skilled attorney with our office," Davidson said.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said Taylor came in to the office the day after his arrest and resigned.

"He said he was sorry for the embarrassment that he caused the office," Bartlett said.

Bartlett said he would have fired Taylor for the offense had he not resigned.

Although all parks in the city were monitored, Officer Rick Owens said all of the arrests were made at Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave. SW.

"Most of the time they don't even know the person," Owens said. "They just show up in the restroom exposing themselves."

The sting happened on three different days during the second week of November. Since then, Largo police have performed spot checks but have made no arrests.

"I think the message is out, which is what we want," said police Chief Lester Aradi.

The investigation was prompted by several complaints by residents who saw the activity in the park's bathrooms, Aradi said.

During the investigation, an undercover officer would enter a men's bathroom in the park. He would sometimes be followed in. Sometimes a conversation would take place, Aradi said, and the men were arrested when they exposed themselves to the officer or began masturbating in front of him.

"I think the real message we're trying to send here is this isn't about lifestyle," Aradi said. "This is about behavior. That certain behavior belongs in private and not public areas."

Aradi promised the city's parks will be checked sporadically.

"It will be more than once and it will be again," he said.

Staff Writer Chris Tisch contributed to this report. Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727) 445-4181 or tel-khoury@sptimes.com.

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