Pensacola, Florida - Avalon Middle School Principal Steven McHenry's arrest on Thursday came after he allegedly exposed himself and masturbated to an undercover police officer at a Pensacola park.
According to an arrest report obtained by the News Journal on Sunday, detectives with the Pensacola Police Department Vice and Narcotics Unit arrested McHenry about 8 p.m. Thursday on a nature trail at Chimney Park, located on Scenic Highway near Langley Avenue.
McHenry, 39, was wearing a pair of "extremely tight spandex pants" and was observed rubbing himself through the pants "in a motion that simulated masturbation," according to the report.
An undercover detective patrolling the wooded nature trail walked past McHenry multiple times. McHenry exchanged greetings with the plainclothes detective, then began following him down the trail, the arrest report said.
The detective turned around and walked past McHenry again. At that time, McHenry stopped under some trees and began rubbing himself again, the report says, in clear view of the detective.
The detective said McHenry turned away from him, as if to look around. When McHenry turned back around, he exposed himself to the detective and began masturbating, according to the report.
The officer then grabbed McHenry by the arm, identified himself as a police officer and escorted McHenry to a waiting squad car, according to the arrest report.
Detectives said McHenry was observed in the park two days earlier behaving in a similar manner, but he did not expose himself to detectives at that time.
McHenry was booked into Escambia County Jail on misdemeanor charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and indecent exposure. He was released after posting $1,000 bond.
Nature trails at Chimney Park and nearby Bay Bluffs Park long have drawn public concern as popular meeting places for people seeking sexual activity.
In 1994, police arrested 66 people on sex-related charges in those areas. Charges included exposure of sexual organs, prostitution and lewd or lascivious behavior.
In 1996, the number of sex arrests in the area dropped to five, following a two-year police crackdown on sexual activity in the area.
Current statistics on sex arrests in the area were not immediately available Sunday evening.
Removed as principal
After the arrest, McHenry was removed as principal of Avalon Middle School and assigned to an administrative job with no contact with students or teachers.
Santa Rosa Schools Superintendent Tim Wryosdick said the incident will be reported to the Florida Department of Education, which will investigate to determine whether McHenry can keep his teaching certificate.
McHenry was appointed principal of Avalon Middle School in 2010 after serving as the school's assistant principal since 2007.
He previously was a social studies teacher at Gulf Breeze High School, where he coached girls basketball and volleyball.
Santa Rosa County School Board member JoAnn Simpson, whose district includes Avalon Middle School, said she has no reason to believe McHenry was involved in inappropriate behavior with students.
"I have never had one parent call me complaining about Mr. McHenry. You can rest assured they would call if anything happened," Simpson said.
Wryosdick is meeting with school district officials today to discuss who will take over as principal of the middle school.
Simpson said the change of school leadership will not interfere with the start of classes on Aug. 22.
"There will be no delays or anything," Simpson said.
You May Also Like...
More mug shot galleries...
Crazy Tampa: Most interesting mugs from the Tampa area
Teachers: Teacher arrest mugshots
Jaw droppers: Open mouth mug shots
Smilers: Happy mug shots
Laughers: What's so funny mug shots
Prostitutes: Prostitute mug shots
Athletes: Professional athlete mug shots
Porn arrests: Child porn arrest mug shots
More unusual mug shots and galleries: 10 News slideshows and galleries
(Copyright 2011 Gannett Co. Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)