Editor's Note [Updated 12:18 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3]: This article is now complete. Thanks for reading breaking news on Patch.
One Manhattan Beach, one Hermosa Beach and one Redondo Beach resident are among 18 men arrested for their alleged conduct in or near a public restroom on the beach at Marine Avenue, according to Stephanie Martin, public information officer for the MB Police Department.
The men have been arrested on suspicion of any of the following charges: solicit/engage in lewd conduct in public place (647(a)PC); loiter in/around public toilet for the purpose of engaging/soliciting lewd/unlawful act (647(d)PC); utilize a peephole in a restroom – invasion of privacy (647(j)PC); resisting arrest (148(a)(1)PC) and indecent exposure (314.1PC).
"We don't want that in our public restrooms," said Martin, adding that children use the public beach restrooms "and we certainly don't want them to see that [sexually graphic grafitti and lewd conduct]."
Lifeguards told MBPD they'd noticed increased pedestrian traffic near the bathrooms, the same people returning, some bathroom visits taking more than an hour and two and three sets of feet in bathroom stalls, she said.
County bathroom maintenance staff sealed peep holes that had been drilled into the bathroom stall partitions only to find the holes had returned the next day. Martin speculated that part of the draw to the Marine Avenue restrooms was the stall doors and partitions. No other beach bathroom in MB had doors; the county has now removed those doors.
MBPD began their undercover operation in early March after lifeguards notified them of their suspicions.
They made their first arrest on March 7, with arrests following on March 8, 9, 14, 21 and 23. Each arrested individual was released pending a court date or further investigation, according to a press release.
Jacob A. Dotson, 33, of Manhattan Beach was one of the men arrested, as was Claudio X. Pinto, 48, of Hermosa Beach and Tod R. Rathbun, 46, of Redondo Beach.
The other arrested males live in El Segundo, Santa Monica, Torrance, Gardena, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Lomita, Los Angeles and East Sussex, England, according to police.
The youngest man is 20, the oldest 59.
Said MB Police Chief Eve R. Irvine, "Undercover operations in public restrooms will be periodically conducted; and those who participate in illegal activity will be arrested."