Pierce College community services staff have taken additional precautions to ensure safety on campus after a homeless man was arrested for annoying children in the locker room showers.
Michael Anthony Lagatta, 57, was arrested June 19 at Pierce for allegedly entering a stall where children were showering.
However, Cindy Chang, director of community services at Pierce said she wanted to clarify that part of the allegation was not true.
“The bulletin that was sent out states that the children were showering, which they were not,” Chang said. “The children had just finished swimming and they were going back to change and the man just talked to them.”
According to Chang, the children were accompanied by a counselor the entire time and were unaffected by the man’s approach.
“They were playing ball right after everything happened,”Chang said.
Arsineh Movsisian, a 19-year-old veterinary major at Pierce said she didn’t judge Lagatta or other homeless individuals for using the campus showers.
“I respect him for wanting to keep clean but he pushed it too far. If he just wanted to come in and shower than that’s fine but don’t bother the kids. That’s not fair for the children that come here,” Movsisian said. “Poor guy, he killed it for himself because he had a good thing going, the privilege of being able to use the showers and now he can’t.”
Chang also said this is the first time an incident like this has happened at the summer camp which is comprised of about 250 children ranging from the ages of four to 13.
After Lagatta’s arrest Chang said the children’s parents, whose identity Chang denied to disclose, were notified by the staff and Chang together with the head of plant facilities and a deputy went out and inspected the locks from both the locker rooms and the restrooms.
“We want to protect the children and made sure that the access from outside is cut off so people can’t get in,” Chang said.
Angie Moore, secretary for the Pierce College Sheriff’s Department said there have been no prior arrests for the same misdemeanor this year at Pierce.
“The incident that happened Thursday was an isolated case and hopefully the last,” Moore said. “A lot of trespassers come in to campus and want to shower, specially because of the summer but they are always advised to leave and the few that have come back have been sent to jail.”
Some of the parents like Jenny Simon were not aware of the recent arrest but said it didn’t affect their decision to bring their children to the summer camp.
“I don’t mind, I’ll still bring my kids here,” Simon said. “The [homeless] just need to be better taken care of at a shelter,” Simon said.
Counselors and lifeguards are now doing walkthroughs of the showers and locker areas before any of the children step in to make sure the area is empty, according to Chang. The staff which ratios 1-8 have also been part of safety trainings and drills on emergency lockdowns.
“Our staff is ready to respond and keep our children safe,” Chang said.