11 men are arrested in investigation at St. Charles park

4 face charges of sexual misconduct

Post-Dispatch/January 9, 2003
By Susan Weich

Complaints from residents about men engaged in sex acts with other men in a St. Charles park started a two-month undercover police investigation that resulted in 11 arrests, authorities say.

One of the men charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct, the Rev. Ronald Oree Nation, 69, of St. Peters, is the Sunday school director for United Pentecostal Church International, in north St. Louis County.

Others charged were: Michael David Benskin, 58, [...], and Jessie Lee Clingingsmith, 58, all of St. Charles.

St. Charles County Assistant Prosecutor Ross Buehler announced the arrests Wednesday. He said the names of the seven other men would be released when formal charges are filed. The maximum penalty for sexual misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor, is one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.

Beginning Oct. 31, undercover police officers and park rangers targeted a parking lot in the north end of DuSable Park. The park is near the Missouri riverfront and the Katy Trail.

Police say the men propositioned the officers and, in at least one case, the undercover officer was groped as he sat in his car.

The men charged either declined to comment or could not be reached.

The Rev. Jerry Jones, general secretary of the United Pentecostal Church International, said church officials were "shocked and saddened by the allegation." He said church officials would investigate and take appropriate action.

Jones said Nation already was planning to retire from the church within the next month.

He added that the church's bylaws state that if a minister is guilty of sexual impropriety, his license would be forfeited.

Police said that all of the people arrested were adults. The solicitations had taken place at varying times, including during the lunch hour.

DuSable Park is listed on a Web site for men who are looking for sex with other men. The Web site, which lists such places all over the world, gives directions to the park and says to "go to the last parking lot by the bathrooms and wait. The best times to solicit for sex are the weekends, in the mornings or afternoons."

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