Manatee Sheriff's Office investigates exposure cases at Robinson Nature Preserve

BRADENTON, Fla. - The peaceful surroundings and natural Florida beauty is what attracts people to the Robinson Nature Preserve in northwest Manatee County.

Heather Hynton takes advantage of all the preserve has to offer.

"This is a wonderful family place to be.  You can come and be one with nature and just hang out and exercise," remarked Hynton.

But according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, a man has exposed himself to people on four separate occasions over the past month. One victim said the man was seated on bench when he exposed himself.  Another spotted the suspect riding a bike.

"I'm really creeped out," said Ruth Kelly, who lives near the preserve and was biking nearby.

The nearly 500-acre preserve has paths that often leave visitors isolated.  That's why people like Ruth Kelly and Mary Lansberg have, for the time being, opted to ride outside of the preserve.

"I'm not walking or riding in the preserve, at least by myself," offered Kelly.

"I walk in there every week, at least one time a week.  And a lot of times by myself, and it's concerning," explained Lansberg.

One of the aspects of this case that really has police concerned, is if the suspect's behavior escalates.

"Anyone that does something as peculiar, strange as this, any type of behavior that is deviant like this, you always worry about what's the next step," said Dave Bristow of the Manatee County Sherrif's Office.

Although Hynton feels strongly about not giving up her walks in the preserve, she does acknowledge the potential risk.

"Until he's caught, I think if he's not getting the attention obviously he's looking for, I'm sure he will be a little more aggressive with his behavior," she said.

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