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Man exposed, fondled self at Books-A-Million, police say

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

A 74-year-old who allegedly flashed and fondled himself in the Decatur Books-A-Million's restroom may have done so at several of the chain's locations in the Birmingham area, Decatur police said Monday.

Police said Gordon Sylvester Sorrell Jr., of Birmingham faces misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and harassment stemming from an alleged exchange Oct. 15 at the store at 1682 Beltline Road S.W.

A male employee of the store told police he went into the bathroom and accidentally struck an older man with the door as he entered, said Lt. Frank DeButy.

The employee said he apologized and then went to the urinal, DeButy said. Believing the older man had left the restroom, the employee was surprised when he felt a hand on his side and turned to see the man masturbating.

The man allegedly made some lascivious statements as well, DeButy said.

The employee told the man to get away from him and that he was calling police.

DeButy said police in Bessemer caught Sorrell on Friday after Books-A-Million loss prevention officers came forward with evidence that helped identify him.

A regional loss prevention officer for the chain told Decatur police that an older man had fondled himself in front of customers at several Birmingham area stores.

On Wednesday, loss prevention officers at one of the Birmingham stores watched the man, obtained his vehicle tag number and followed him to his 2511 Crowne Ridge Court residence in Birmingham, DeButy said.

They believed he was the same man involved in the Decatur incident, DeButy said.

A background check on Sorrell revealed that he had been convicted in 1992 in Florida of lewd and lascivious behavior on or in the presence of a child, DeButy said.

Police were unaware of any other incidents in Decatur, however, DeButy asked the public to examine Sorrell's photo closely.

"It is not unusual for this type of crime to be repeatedly committed in the same area until an event such as a brush with the law causes the perpetrator to move to another geographic location to continue to commit these offenses," DeButy said.

DeButy asked anyone whom Sorrell might have victimized in any way to call Investigator Joe Renshaw at 341-4842.

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