Saturday, May 24, 2014
Lt. Benito Gonzalez Jr Accused of Masturbating in Starbucks
Lt. Benito Gonzalez Jr., who supervises the department's narcotics unit, has been removed from duty over allegations that he masturbated in public at a Route 70 Starbucks, a county spokesman said Monday.
The Deptford man was arrested Friday in connection with the May 7 incident, according to Cherry Hill police records.
"We are deeply troubled by the allegations of this off-duty conduct," said county spokesman Dan Keashen. "A swift and thorough investigation is being conducted."
According to the police report, Gonzalez allegedly pulled down his shorts and exposed himself at the coffee shop, "knowing or reasonably expecting that the act was likely to be observed by a non-consenting person who likely would be affronted or alarmed."
Gonzalez left the shop, but a Starbucks employee reported the incident to police immediately, said company spokeswoman Laurel Harper.
"Our top priority is to provide a safe environment for our customers and employees, and we take all reports of inappropriate activity in our stores very seriously," she said.
Gonzalez was charged with a disorderly persons lewdness offense, according to a Cherry Hill police spokeswoman, Lt. Amy Winters. "The investigation is still ongoing," she said.
Keashen offered a similar outlook.
"We are working to ascertain all of the facts in this matter with Cherry Hill Police Department and the Camden County Prosecutor's Office," Keashen said.
Police posted surveillance photos of a suspect after the incident at the department's Facebook page, but they were no longer online Monday.
The incident occurred at a Starbucks in the 1100 block of Route 70, at the Kinko's Plaza.
Gonzalez is a 17-year veteran and a former member of the city-run police department that was disbanded to make way for the county force.
Gonzalez was honored by the county police department in July 2013, after he and two other officers helped an elderly woman return home to Kentucky after she got lost and ended up in Camden. Gonzalez found the woman asleep in a car at 2nd and Clinton streets; with two detectives, he got the woman to a Brooklawn motel and contacted a relative.
The officers then accompanied the woman to a Philadelphia bus station to ensure her return home.