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Man arrested for public indecency accused of masturbating near elementary playground in Whiteland

James Snodgrass

WHITELAND, Ind.– A Columbus man was arrested in Whiteland after allegedly touching himself while watching children on a playground.

Whiteland police were called to the Clark Pleasant School Corporation administrative offices around 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 on a report of a suspicious vehicle.

A witness showed police photos she had taken on her phone of the car parked at the rear of the building, near the elementary playground. She said the man was in the car holding up a phone, appearing to be taking photos of children on the playground. She told police she believed the man was touching himself.

Police found the vehicle in question belonged to James Snodgrass, 62, of Columbus. They tried to call him, but he didn’t answer. Officers then went to his home and left a note on the door after finding nobody was home.

On Aug. 9 around 10:20 a.m., officers were able to contact Snodgrass via phone. When told he was reported as suspicious, Snodgrass told police he “was not going to lie or beat around the bush,” according to court documents. He said he has had a problem for 40 years and admitted to masturbating while watching the children. He denied taking any photos.

Court documents show he told police he had no excuses for his actions and knew it was wrong. He told police he had been traveling through the area when the urge started.  He said he’s been fighting the urge for two weeks.

Snodgrass said he’d never hurt anyone and vowed to never return to the area. He agreed to meet with police in person the next day.

On Aug. 10 at 9:30 a.m., Snodgrass came to the Whiteland Police Department to be interviewed. He told them watching kids play relaxes him, and he started “stroking himself” when he saw a woman in a car a few cars up from his.

Police asked if someone came up to his car and saw him, would they know what he was doing?

“Yeah,” he replied. “I can’t make any excuses to you. It’s something that has been in me.”

Officers read him the public indecency law and asked him if that described what he had done. He agreed and was arrested for indecent exposure.