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'Tough times' made him do it, says NYPD detective caught masturbating in front of minors

The 17-year veteran was released on a desk appearance ticket.

An NYPD detective was charged with breaking into Long Island backyards and masturbating in front of children, according to reports. He was busted around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday and released with a desk ticket on Monday morning.

Detective Robert Francis, 46, who lives in Queens with his wife and children,is accused ofcreeping into Rockville Centre backyards or driveways, getting the girls' attention with a flashlight and then exposing himself, shining the light on his penisand masturbating, according to reports.

Francis, who is a detective at the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn, faces four counts of public lewdness, four counts of trespassing and three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor — all misdemeanors.

He was not given "special treatment," the Rockville Centre police commissioner said.

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“We only charged him with misdemeanors,” Police Commissioner CharlesGennariosaid, the New York Post reported. “That’s all we could charge him with. He was not a danger in that sense that he was now known to us.”

“He kept telling the investigating detective that he was going through tough times,” Gennario added. “I spoke to my detective just before we came in here, and he was concerned that he might harm himself.”

"It's technically a sex crime given the type of charge that it is," criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor Lance Fletcher told Metro, but added that neither exposure nor lewdness are considered offenses that would land a person on the sex crimes registry.

"It's terrible," Fletcher said when he heard that three of the alleged victims of the17-year veteran of the force are under the age of 16.

Gennario told NBC4 that all four victims went to the same high school and that he was targeting women. The Post reported that Gennario saidFrancis’ victims “were chosen at random. It was a coincidence that they were young girls.”

The lewd acts began in February, according to reports, and Francis is accused of at least four obscene acts in Rockville Centre; he reportedly admitted to additional fondling acts in other jurisdictions, CBS2 reported.

Contact is an element that would make Francis' alleged crimes ripe for the sex offenders' registry, Fletcher said.

“It’s disturbing,” Rockville Centre parent Michael Shenkertold CBS2. “I have young children who live in the community; raised my family here. You hate to see something like this in your own backyard.”

Francis is due back in court in three weeks.

 
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