CRIME

LBJ Grove investigation: Hookup location for sex

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Internet sites say hookups for sex occur at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove in Washington all the time, both in the parking lot and in a public bathroom. They happen even though families and children are often nearby.

Dawud Moor works nearby and constantly sees people hanging around the bathroom. He purposely directs families out of their way so they don't take kids inside.

"I make sure they go to the bathroom over here,” motioned Moor. “It has a lock and a key with it. Anybody can't just get in that one."

The grove sits on Columbia Island, a stone's throw away from the Pentagon and just across the Potomac River from the National Mall.

The LBJ Grove bathroom has long had a reputation. We found online mentions of it as a hookup spot dating to 1996.

ABC7 hidden cameras captured some people spending hours cruising the parking lot, while others hung around inside the bathroom for hours.

Since this is federal park land, it's the U.S. Park Police who patrol the area. Records ABC7 requested show just three arrests for lewd acts all last year, and one arrest for a sex offense in the first month and a half of this year.

U.S. Park Police Sgt. Paul Brooks with the Park Police said by phone it could be argued this is an issue of lifestyle.

"It goes on everywhere,” said Sgt. Brooks. “It's a problem everywhere."

Brooks insisted officers do active patrolling, but ABC7 saw only one police vehicle during the multiple times we visited over several months.

A cruising site does list two other local federal parks, but the hookup areas are less public.

Sgt. Brooks also says the federal sequester will make it tough to devote more patrols to this bathroom and parking lot. But during the year for which ABC7 requested records, there was no sequester in effect.

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