On January 25, 2012, PCSO Vice detectives conducted an undercover operation at the Peace River Park located on SR 640 in the Homeland (just south of Bartow) area. During the operation, male detectives made contact with various men in the park, four of whom exposed themselves to the detectives and/or asked the detectives to perform sex acts on them. One of the suspects (Matthew Clark) told the detectives that he is the senior pastor at the Blessed Assurance Temple located at 1245 South McAdoo Avenue in Bartow. Another suspect (Carl Kitchen) told detectives he is a retired Ontario (Canada) State Police Officer.
Arrested during this operation were:
Matthew Preston Clark, DOB 6/28/78, of 1230 South McAdoo Avenue in Bartow. During his conversation with the undercover detective, Clark told the detective “what kind of activity” goes on at the park and described in graphic detail the sexual characteristics of another man he had met at the park. Clark asked the detective to perform a sex act on him (Clark). Clark was arrested and charged with Soliciting a Lewd Act. Clark told the detectives he is a pastor (see above) and is married.
Carl Robert Kitchen, DOB 12/9/39, of Lions Head, Ontario, Canada, whose part-time Polk County residence is in Fort Meade (current and former law enforcement officer's addresses are exempt per FSS 119). Kitchen exposed himself to an undercover detective and asked the detective to perform a sex act on him (Kitchen). After his arrest, he told detectives he is a retired State Police Officer from Canada, where he served for 31 years. He told the detectives he is married, and vacations in Florida during the winter months. Kitchen was arrested and charged with Exposure of Sexual Organ, and Soliciting a Lewd Act.
Paul L. Wright, DOB 10/9/70, of 21055 Franklin Street in Dade City. Wright asked an undercover detective to perform a sex act on him (Wright). After his arrest he told detectives that he works for Allied, Inc., and comes to the park on his lunch breaks to engage in sex acts with other men. He was arrested and charged with Soliciting a Lewd Act.
Roger Griffin, DOB 5/10/48, of 4600 Del Mar Drive in Lakeland. Griffin exposed himself to an undercover detective and then asked the detective to perform a sex act on him (Griffin). He told detectives he is married, disabled, and currently unemployed. He was arrested and charged with Exposure of Sexual Organ and Committing a Lewd Act.
“It never ceases to amaze me when professionals such as preachers and law enforcement officers are engaged in such outrageous behavior. That type of behavior is not going to be tolerated in our parks. We want to ensure that all of our parks are safe for children and their families to enjoy. As always, we appreciate those in the community who alert us to this type of behavior, so that we can do what’s right and put people who commit crimes like these in jail.” – Sheriff Grady Judd