Subscribe for 33¢ / day

ROSS TOWNSHIP — Lake County parks officials don't want to judge, but they do want men who enjoy going pantsless to stay away from Deep River County Park.

Officials closed a road leading to a remote area of Deep River County Park this week after a man wearing women's underwear and no pants was arrested and police received two other reports about suspicious men.

The decision to close the road to the Sulky Track area of the park comes nearly 20 years after nine men were arrested in a sex sting operation at the park.

Lake County Parks and Recreation also requested extra police and staff patrols because of recent incidents, spokeswoman Emily Trisler said.

"We aren't here to pass judgment on anyone's lifestyle, but a public park absolutely isn't the place for the types of behavior that have been reported," she said. "We do allow alcohol in a public setting, but even that comes with the expectation to do so responsibly."

The parks department has been working closely with the Sheriff's Department, she said. Officers who help patrol Deep River Waterpark will head over to the county park regularly or whenever an incident is reported.

The park's main address is 9410 Old Lincoln Highway, but the Sulky Track area is off Ainsworth Road.

"Unfortunately, we're not the only park that deals with situations like this, but we will continue to do everything we can to stop ahead of it to ensure that visitors can enjoy our parks without worrying about seeing something unsavory," Trisler said.

Lake County sheriff's police on Monday arrested 62-year-old Alvin Dover after they found him sitting in a vehicle wearing women's underwear and not pants, watching pornography while intoxicated.

Police found several empty beer cans in the front seat of Dover's vehicle and several full cans in the back seat, a report said. Dover, who allegedly told police he was "relaxing," was arrested on public intoxication and public indecency charges. 

Police initially responded to the park for a report of two naked men walking around, but they found only Dover in his vehicle.

About 2:50 p.m. Tuesday, police were dispatched to the Sulky Track area for a report of a man in a silver Chevrolet Silverado with Michigan license plates approaching other vehicles and behaving suspiciously. Police arrived, but were unable to locate the vehicle.

About an hour later, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to the park for a report of a man in a black Jeep with a Virginia license plate exposing himself in his car, according to a report. Officers again were unable to locate the vehicle.

This isn't the first time public nudity has been reported at the park.

In 1998, the Lake County Sheriff's Department ran a sting operation at the same location and arrested nine men, including a then 51-year-old who worked as an instructor at Indiana University Northwest and a then-52-year-old Chesterton man who served as pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Lake Station.

Sheriff's police conducted the sting operation after receiving an anonymous report of men seen performing illicit sexual acts and walking naked on hiking trails in the park, which borders Porter County. Lake County police said the men were arrested after they approached undercover detectives, asked for sexual favors and exposed themselves.

The Deep River R/C Flying Club uses the Sulky Track area, which is off Ainsworth Road. Members of the club can call the parks department to make arrangements to use the area.

The trail system in that area is still open to equestrians and hikes, Trisler said.

Parents should use their discretion, but the parks department does not believe there is any need to worry about taking kids to the park.

"The issues reported to police have been isolated to the Sulky Track area of the park, which is very isolated and quite a hike from both the playground and the Visitor Center," Trisler said.


Public safety reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.