I was in at Save-A-Lot a couple of weeks ago and while I was in line to check out, I overheard a lady talk about a man that was following her on the walking path behind my house. She was talking about how this man would follow her for a couple hundred feet then stop, completely strip down, and would start performing sexual acts on himself. She said that she doesn’t feel comfortable walking on the walking path anymore. We need to take action to stop these things from happening and make the walking path safer.
The walking path is about half a mile behind my house. At some parts of the walking path, I am able to see my house, that’s how close it is. The walking path goes through Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties. The area that my problem is happening in is in Stark County in Massillon. There are twenty-five miles that go through Stark County. Most of the walking path in my area is pavement, but some parts of it is gravel. The walking path is surrounded in big old trees with the sun shining through the leaves. When looking at pictures at it online, it looks like a safe place to just enjoy the fresh air and not have to worry about anything.
The community that I live in isn’t the fanciest of places. It isn’t completely run down, but it also isn’t kept up on its roads and buildings. I would consider most people in Massillon to be middle class and some lower middle class. The middle class and lower middle class are mixed together and not on different sides of town. There are also parts of Massillon that are really run down and would be considered the ghetto. This problem that has occurred on the walking path is a type of problem that I would expect to see in Massillon. I believe that the guy is from Massillon, because some people around here are the type to cause problems like this.
I have overheard a couple of conversations in grocery stores about this situation. One conversation that has really stuck with me was with a lady in the check-out line at Save-A-Lot. The conversation had been with another customer and the cashier, but I was right behind the other customer. This other customer appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties and she had stated she had a couple of younger kids. She was talking to the cashier about how she was walking on the walking path over the weekend and had turned around and noticed a guy behind her.
She said that she thought nothing of it, because the walking path is a place to walk for everybody. She continued walking and after about half a mile she noticed this guy was following her. When she turned around to ask if she could help him, he had proceeded to pull his pants down and play with his manhood in front of this lady. She said that she had started to walk even faster now and when she got the chance, she tried to snap a picture of him to show to the police. She said she wasn’t able to get a picture, but was able to put a brief description of the guy online and told the police.
When I talked to other women at different stores regarding this situation, they had all told me that they are not comfortable walking alone on the walking path anymore. I haven’t personally experienced any problem with the guy, but I have heard too many stories regarding this and that makes me really uncomfortable to walk on the walking path anymore. A few years ago, every Friday morning my sister, grandma, and I would all take our bikes down to the walking path and would ride them for a few miles then come back home. We wouldn’t ever experience anything odd and felt very comfortable riding our bikes down there all the time. We eventually stopped doing that because we had all gotten busier and there just wasn’t any time to do it. I’m glad that we did stop, because shortly after we did is when this problem had started.
Since this problem has gotten to be so big and popular, I refuse to walk on the walking path alone anymore. I don’t feel comfortable doing so and if I want to get some walking time in, I will go to my local recreation center to do that. If other women still want to go on the walking path, I would highly suggest to them to bring somebody with them while walking, or to carry a gun or knife. I personally carry pepper spray with me everywhere, but this doesn’t mean I feel comfortable walking on it alone. If I were to walk on it again, I would ask an older male figure to come with me so that I feel safer.
This problem is quite big one in my area, but it is also a problem everywhere else too. A very similar experience happened to a lady in Jacksonville, North Carolina. A news article from Jacksonville news was put out two years ago about this. Jacksonville news states, “Christopher Blaine Edward Williams, 28, of Court Street, was charged Friday by the Jacksonville Police Department with indecent exposure. Williams is accused of exposing his penis while masturbating along the wooded part of the bicycle trail approaching the Hargett Street intersection of the Rails to Trails path in the presence of a female, according to warrants.” (jdnews 2013). The situation that was described in the rest of the article is very similar to what I had overheard in the grocery store.
There have been multiple news articles about men following women around and doing this. While doing my research, I have found many articles regarding similar stories like the one that I overheard in the grocery store. There are many things that we are able to do to stop this. The first thing would be getting the guys who are doing this noticed by the public. We as a community, women in particular, need to take pictures of the guy, or if that can’t be done, then get a good visual picture of him and talk to the police about it.
Another way to get him noticed by the public, would be putting a picture or a description of the guy on social media. Other things that could be done to put a stop to it would be getting cameras put up on the walking path, or have a police officer on guard every half mile to help keep an eye on everything. By just getting the guy noticed can help a lot because we then know to report the guy to the police and get him caught.
I feel as if this problem is able to get worse, but we as a community need to take action and stop it from getting worse. The walking path is too close to so many homes and it’s becoming dangerous to do a simple activity. This problem isn’t just happening here in Massillon, it’s happening in multiple different areas around the United States. We need to all take action and make our walking paths safer to walk on.